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How to Vacation in Maui on the Cheap

Hawaii is known as an expensive vacation destination, and the island of Maui is no exception. However, my sister and I recently returned from eight nights on this tropical paradise, and we did it on a budget! If you’d like to see Maui, Hawaii without the typical price tag, take a few of our tips.

(Note: Although we did get good deals on our flights, airline tickets involve too many factors, such as season, origin, and personal resources. I’ve decided that, because all the variables that went into our flights probably can’t transfer to yours, to leave this expense out. If you want to save money on flights, there are plenty of articles out there dedicated to just that!)

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Gear

For the most part, I just used what I already owned to pack my bag. In Hawaii, you can wear shorts and swimsuits year-round, but I also packed a rain jacket for the unpredictable weather changes as well as leggings and a long-sleeve because I wanted to hike Haleakala with its cold summit. Since most of the clothes were compact, it was easy to fit everything into carry-on luggage and not have to pay for a checked bag.

One thing I did need to buy was razors. I ordered a starter pack from Dollar Shave Club, which included a handle, four blades, and some travel-sized toiletries, all for $5. Better yet, I took advantage of a Dollar Shave Club deal on Swagbucks, so I was paid back in rebates.

One item I knew I’d need, but didn’t have was a snorkel. I decided to just rent one in Hawaii. However, before going to the snorkel rental shop, we stopped at a grocery store. There I found snorkels for the same price as a one-day rental. Since my sister and I both knew we’d be snorkeling multiple days, we bought these and made our money back with our first swim. I snorkeled a total of three days and saw some incredible sea life, making it a worthwhile purchase.

Accommodation

We rented dorm beds at Maui’s Banana Bungalow Hostel. This was by far our biggest expense on the island, and one of the most expensive hostels I’ve ever stayed at. But the $51.40 per night was much more reasonable than any Maui resort or vacation home. I suppose the only cheaper option would be camping, but that is only available in remote areas, and I wanted to be close to the action. Plus, the hostel offered more than just a bed to sleep on. Banana Bungalow provided other money-saving measures that I’ll explain through the rest of this post.

Transportation

While most Maui vacationers rent a car, here’s our big money-saving secret: we didn’t drive at all! The main reason I chose to stay at Banana Bungalow was because they offer different tours to different parts of the island each day of the week. I ended up going with them to several famous beaches, Haleakala National Park, and even the Road to Hana. Of course, the drivers/guides work for tips, but these tours were worth more than pricey commercial tours.

Since Banana Bungalow is near downtown Wailuku, we simply walked to town to eat good food and see some incredible sites. Iao Valley is in the rainforest about three miles outside of the city, so we hiked there one day. For other excursions that we took on our own, we utilized Uber and Lyft. As it was our first time using these rideshare apps, we got registration bonuses, and I also used my Swagbucks to get a free $25 Uber gift card. We would just compare prices between Uber and Lyft and go with whatever was cheapest for our situation. (Use Uber promo code jessical42262ue to get a $15 Uber ride for free! For Lyft, use promo code LIPPE15551 for a special discount.)

Activities

Thankfully, most of Maui’s attractions don’t cost a dime. All beaches are open to the public. Swimming is free. Hammocking is free. Hiking is free. Most parks are free. With the Banana Bungalow tours, we didn’t even have to pay for gas or parking. The only activity expense I had with these tours besides tip money was the national park entry fee into Haleakala.

Since my sister’s birthday was in the middle of our trip, we decided to celebrate at Maui Tropical Plantation. We originally weren’t going to take the tour and instead enjoy the free botanical walking paths and my gift to her would be a meal at the restaurant. But then we changed our minds on the restaurant and decided to eat from the less costly coffee and ice cream shops, so then my birthday gift to her was paying for the tram tour. It was $20 per person and included lots of sights, information, and fruit!

Food

Admittedly, this was the most difficult category to keep on a budget, and I definitely made a few splurges. Most food in Hawaii is expensive, so I didn’t want to be paying exorbitant prices for the same food I eat at home. I also wanted opportunities to taste local cuisine. However, I did pack a variety of snacks so that I didn’t have to buy food in airports, and I used these snacks to supplement a couple of meals in Hawaii as well.

The hostel offered make-your-own pancakes every morning, so breakfast was covered. Often while cooking in the communal kitchen, others would make food and offer leftovers to everyone. There were even free shelves in the fridge and pantry, so that provided a few ingredients.

The tours stopped at grocery stores such as Safeway and Foodland so we could load up on reasonably-priced food. These stores have local, grown-in-Hawaii produce sections, so I focused my shopping there. We also bought fresh fruit at Maui Tropical Plantation’s market and packaged goods at an Asian market down the street from our hostel. We even got food at Costco. The restaurant menu had some different choices from our local Costco, but still had $1.99 pizza and $1.50 hot dogs!

We did go out to eat several times, but not to fancy sit-down restaurants. We happened to be in Wailuku during their First Friday street fair, so we loaded up on all kinds of local cuisine from the various food stands and trucks. We ate at food trucks and stands a couple other times, like on the Road to Hana where we split a roadside meal served on a banana leaf. (We passed on the banana bread when we realized it was from a bakery a block away from our hostel. We walked there the next morning and got the banana bread for a fraction of the price!) We also ate at a few walk-up restaurants. We even ate at McDonald’s, but I only ordered off their unique local menu. Spam and eggs, anyone?

Shopping

I got a few mementos from this trip, mostly free. I wrote in my journal every day. I pressed a flower in its pages. I brought my National Parks passport so I could add a Haleakala stamp. And of course I took lots of pictures!

Toward the end of our trip we went to Lahaina, which was a good place for shopping. There were fairly good prices at ABC Stores, where I got chocolate covered macadamia nuts and a bracelet. Out of respect for preserving the natural beauty on Maui, I did not smuggle out any coral, sand, or rocks.

Maui did end up costing more than my typical frugal trips, but we were able to have a good time without breaking the bank. I hope you’ll be able to enjoy Maui on a budget, too!

How to Vacation in Maui on the Cheap

How do you lower the price of an expensive destination? Let me know in the comments!

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3 Common Mistakes Millennials Make When Traveling To Hot Countries

When you go traveling, there are many things you take into consideration, one of which is the weather. Ideally, you want to go somewhere nice and hot, somewhere to relax and enjoy the great weather. I love going to hot countries, but they do require you to be a bit more prepared. Otherwise, you will end up with sun damaged skin for the rest of your life.

Throughout my travels I’ve come across a few common mistakes, we make when going to hot countries. Here are the three biggest, and why they need to be avoided:

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Falling Asleep In The Sun

I’ve been on holiday in a hot country and walked along the beach where I’ve seen dozens of people falling asleep in the sun. They’re just lying there, with no shade covering them at all, having a little snooze. I don’t want to generalize, but it tends to be young people that have been out the night before and are trying to catch any rest they can find. While there’s nothing wrong with sunbathing, falling asleep is completely different. It means you can be in the sun for absolutely ages, resulting in some severe burns. It’s not uncommon for people to have second-degree burns from falling asleep in the searing hot sun all day long. Believe me, that’s a surefire way to completely ruin your trip and land you a few nights in a foreign hospital bed.

Forgetting Cream For Their Skin

Now, if you go on holiday and forget your sunscreen, then it shouldn’t matter too much as you can buy some abroad. However, it’s important that you remember other creams for your skin too. I’m talking about burn creams, aloe vera gel, aftersun – the stuff you apply when you’ve come in from sunbathing to look after your skin. If you look at Med Consumers burn ointment list, you’ll struggle to find a lot of these creams and gels in shops. The same can go for some types of aloe vera gel and after sun cream too. So, if you can’t find them in shops, you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on them while traveling. As such, you need to remember to pack them before you go, or else your skin may go unprotected during your entire trip. Also, remembering to bring the cream is only half of your task. You’ve got to remember to use them too, whenever you’ve been in the sun and come inside. Hopefully, you won’t need to use any burn cream, but bring it just in case you get some sore red patches.

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Not Drinking Enough Water

Hot weather doesn’t just cause sunburn, it can also cause sunstroke and dehydration. Being in the sun for hours a day will literally dry you out like a prune. Your body needs so much water to counter this and keep you healthy. Normally, you should drink around 2 litres of water per day, but you should add to this when you’re in a hot country. Heck, double it just to be safe! The more water you drink, the better. Don’t make the mistake of not carrying a big refillable bottle with you wherever you go.

Avoid these mistakes when you’re in a hot country, and your experience of the place will be a thousand times better.

PS- As a millenial traveler myself, I’ve struggled with my fair share of struggling in hot destinations. Another accompanying problem is sweat. Click here for tips on combatting perspiration!