More like … “let’s spend the money wisely”. Our way. Let’s dig a bit in here …
Low-Budget key #1:
flights and cars, know the deals
We got our tickets early enough to buy them at their cheapest price with Hawaiian Airlines #10. Digging online made me find that the prices start to be played with and go up three months before the departure date, with this airline. That is the thing to know. Take your ticket before the 3 months deadline, and you will get the rock-bottom fare.
Renting a car can be pricy too. You can use the bus or hitch-hike, but we were ready to spend some money to have some freedom. After a lot of time browsing websites, I found this rental company/engine which works with the major ones: Discount Hawaii Car Rental #11. Discounts. Free second driver. Booking through them ended up being cheaper than through the final rental company itself.
Low-Budget key #2:
staying with locals
In Hawaii, even the simplest hostels can be expensive. On Kaua’i, when I was looking for places to sleep, the cheapest I found started at $ 35 per person per night. Better spend these $ 70 / day on something else than “just a bed”. AirBnB was an option too, but hey, again, how can we spend better?? We went onto the Couchsurfing #12 side. New experience, I created my profile and browsed through the locals’ profiles, and sent, literally, a ton of messages. 157 different hosts. That is my “ton of messages”. Out of these, only 57 replied, most of the time to kindly decline (“out of town”, “already hosting Couchsurfers on these dates” …), but out of these 57, some accepted our requests, and most were also really helpful and gave us a lot of tips and advices. So, for a first time, it ended up working perfectly. And to be true, it could not have been better. Wait for the next episodes.
Low-Budget key #3:
traveling light and smart
No suitcase. That is the only strict and final condition I set with Tetyana. Adventure calls for mobility. Backpacks only. Smart is also about looking around and borrow things if you can, instead of buying. On that side, big mahalo to Jenny & Mason, Becky & Rob, Staci & Randall, Robert & Christian … who lend us some useful gear like a big hiking backpack, tent, extra camelbak, a GoPro, etc. We managed to pack it all in three bags. One big hiking guy, two small ones. Useful only. No extra clothes, no laptop (I just took a small external hard drive to transfer my pictures using our kind hosts’ laptops), a digital travel guide (just one, the Lonely Planet #13 as an eBook on my phone, no extra pounds of paper to carry) …
Low-Budget key #4:
there is no such thing as “small” savings
A saving is a saving! And for what is to be bought before getting on the journey, spending a bit of time can save a lot of money. We live in the East Bay, across the great San Francisco, and we have a lot of options to shop hiking gear around: REI, Any Mountain, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Sports Authority … just to name a few. Amazon can also have some really good deals. Just by making an exhaustive list of what we needed to buy and visiting every store (or more conveniently, their website ), I made sure to buy the cheapest—and best—products:
- 3 rain ponchos, bought at Any Mountain for $ 1.08. Otherwise, $ 1.99 at Dick’s or Sports Authority, or more expensive elsewhere ;
- backpacking stove #14 to cook good food out in the nature, on Amazon for $ 9.99. Similar at REI costs $ 39.95 ;
- cooking set #15 with pan, frying pan and other pieces, on Amazon for $ 19.99. Similar at REI costs $ 44.95 ;
- 2 great sleeping bags #16, lightweight (24 oz), 48°F / 59°F temperature rate (limit / comfort), on Amazon for $ 35. Count around $ 70–100 for a similar product elsewhere ;
- 5 assorted bags of Mountain House freeze-dried food. Each bag was $ 0.50 to a dollar cheaper at Any Mountain, compared to REI.
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When you need gear, food, chocolate (yes, need!) … spending a bit of time looking around before buying can save a lot. I saved us around $ 400–500, and that makes a lot more money to spend—or not—during the trip!
On top of that, we packed a lot of everyday food we would need, to spare some extra dollars there: organic dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s (super good and cheap), two dozens organic maple-cinnamon oatmeal bags (just boil water and you get an amazing breakfast, or snack-booster) and around 30 LÄRABAR nut bars (they were on 20% sale on Amazon ). These can be more pricy in Hawaii, so we packed our own survival kit, including also some cheese, salami, and wine, to cover the primary needs.
That’s it! The itinerary is ready, the bags are full. Tickets in hand …