I just arrived home from a trip to Maui, and I am going to show you how I spent 4 days and 3 nights in paradise for less than $1000. Here is how I did it:
First Things First
Vacations are luxury items. In my humble opinion, one should not go on vacation if they 1) do not already have an emergency fund and 2) have to pay for that vacation by going into debt.
Go Off Season
Most people take vacation during the summer when it is warm pretty much everywhere. How boring. Instead, I enjoyed 75-80 temperatures in Maui while it was 27 degrees at home here in Cincinnati. Plus, I wasn’t competing as much in the world of supply and demand.
In this case, I was going to Hawaii with the purpose of speaking at a conference. Because of this business reason, I am able to write the vacation off on my taxes. According to the Watson CPA Group, here is how you write a vacation off on your taxes:
- Establish a business purpose ahead of time: In my case, speaking at the conference was my original purpose for going.
- Travel far enough away for an overnight stay: Hawaii definitely counts.
- Expenses you can deduct: These include all transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles), lodging, laundry/dry cleaning, and meals.
- Family expenses: Your family and friends can go with you, but you can only deduct expenses that you would ordinarily spend for yourself
- Keep it reasonable: Don’t go crazy. That is kind of the point of this whole website anyway.
- Keep good records: You technically don’t need a receipt for anything under $75, but I pretty much kept everything because I like to keep my budgeting tidy.
Fly with Responsible Credit Card Miles
When I first realized I would be heading to Maui in November, back in the Spring, I took a look at what airlines fly into Maui. I then submitted an application for that airline’s credit card. Since I incur a good number of reimbursable expenses with my day job, I simply used the airline’s credit card for the next $2,000 in expenses, which was pretty much one business trip. Once I paid that bill, I was awarded enough miles for a trip to Maui and then some. I closed out the credit card, and I had a trip to Hawaii for $35. For a couple, both adults could use this tactic to get low cost airfare.
Skip the Resort and Get a Condo
I could have received a nice discount at the resort where the conference was located. I’m sure I would have been very happy at this resort, but I likely wouldn’t be writing a blog post on how to spend less than $1,000 on a trip to Hawaii if I did. I was able to instead find a one-bedroom condo on the beach. The picture attached to this post was taken at the condo. In the end I only spent $440.34 for 3 nights. I found the deal on Priceline, but you can also try airbnb. Even more important…
Make Your Own Food
By having a condo I also had my own kitchen. Because of this I could make my own food, which saved me a ton of money. I ended up spending $87 for four day’s worth of groceries, which was sticker shock for me. However, it was way cheaper than the alternative. In Hawaii it costs $9 for a lemonade, $30 for a buffet, and $50 per person for dinner at a resort restaurant. I made sure to use Hawaiian inspired recipes to take advantage of ingredients I could only find in the locale. I also used some recipes I enjoyed when I was living in Japan because I knew it would be easy to find the ingredients in Hawaii. For the flights there and back I made sure to bring peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, Bobo Oat Bars and protein supplements. I typically have to do that anyway since it is hard for a vegan to find food in an airport.
I have some disclaimers to admit to here. I am afraid of deep water. Really afraid. So afraid that I looked up the average depth of the Pacific Ocean (read: 3 miles deep) and then decided to drug myself for the 12 hours total I spent flying over the Pacific Ocean both to and fro. That being said, Hawaii didn’t have the best forms of recreation for scardy cats like me because most are water based. I spent most of my time at the pool or the beach. I only went as far as putting my feet in because that’s how I roll. I also enjoyed a lot of hiking care of this list of popular hiking locations on Maui.
Rent a Car
I did think about taking a shuttle to and from the airport and a taxi or walk otherwise. That is usually how I save money traveling elsewhere. However, I calculated the shuttle and taxi fees in advance, and I realized I would pay for the car rental within the first shuttle ride. That also made most of my recreation costs sunk as it didn’t cost anything additional to go drive around and look at the scenery. Gas is certainly more expensive there, so make sure to pick a fuel efficient car from the rental car lineup. I spent $158 for the rental car, and I only spent $9 for gas because the Nissan Maxima I rented had incredible gas mileage.
I’m not really a fan of “stuff”, which is evidenced by my post “This Christmas Collect Moments Instead of Things”. I wanted to bring a piece of Hawaii home for my friends and family to experience as opposed to buying stuff that would sit idle as waste. So, I brought home pineapples. Technically, you can’t bring produce home. However, once you are in the terminal gift shop you can buy 3 pineapples for $27. That seems like a lot, but my husband doesn’t fly and likes pineapple. Now he’ll be able to experience Hawaii if even just a little. I’ll also be making piña coladas at this year’s Mending Party with my friends.
So what was my final total? $930 and that does not include any “discount” I will receive from writing this trip off on my taxes. Aloha!