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Kauai on a Budget … But Still a Fabulous Trip

My recent week-long trip to Kauai was the first real vacation my husband and I had taken in just over two years. I know for some families or couples that is a relatively short time. It is tough to scrape together the money to get out of town, especially if you aren’t staying with relatives or friends. And face it, you just aren’t going to get a good romantic vacation if you are sleeping on grandma’s sleeper sofa. So here are some tips for finding a great vacation without breaking the bank.

These suggestions are specific to visiting Kauai, but can easily be adapted to many other vacations as well.

The earlier you start your planning the better chance you have at finding a great deal on airfare. Airlines sometimes have one or two day long sales on airfare. They don’t advertise them, so you have to check fares every day. Just make it part of your daily routine until you find a fare that fits your budget, then my advice is to stop looking. Once you have purchased just be happy with it, don’t torture yourself if it goes down another 20 dollars. Unless you can change it, let it go.

On Kauai you really have to rent a car. The sites are really too far apart to walk, and I didn’t see any public transportation — I’m sure there is something, but not much and probably time consuming (buses) or expensive (taxis). So start shopping around for rental cars when you start looking for airfare. Keep in mind you will have to transport your luggage as well! My dad was in charge of booking our rental car and when it came down to it, we couldn’t fit the four of us and the luggage in the first day or the last day when we had to go back to the airport. The upgrade was expensive, and I think we could have saved quite a bit if we had reserved the right car in the first place.

When it comes to food, you can save a lot of money if you prepare your own meals rather than eat out. This was particularly true on Kauai. Restaurants are expensive there, even the shrimp shack was 12 dollars a meal. It was tasty but an unnecessary expense. Grocery shopping on Kauai was expensive as well, significantly more than at home so plan for that as well. We saved a lot by having cereal, milk, bread and sandwich meat. If we had planned it out a little better we could have saved even more by bringing meals each day. There were a few days we thought we would be back to the condo in time for lunch and we weren’t so we spent money on eating out.

That brings me to my final tip for this blog, plan your days well. There are a lot of things to do on the island that don’t cost anything, such as visiting the beach or other sites or hiking. By making a plan for your days you may be less tempted to stray into activities that cost more than you planned for. Also, by planning out your activities ahead of time you can cut down on driving significantly and with gas prices close to five dollars a gallon it will pay off.

Enjoy your vacation, but don’t fall into the “we’re on vacation” indulgences that will leave you will more debt that you can handle at the end of your vacation. If you can save the money this time around it will be easier to make it to your next vacation.

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