I thought I'd share a bit more about our trip, while it's fresh in my mind. I do not consider this trip to be frugal, by any stretch of the imagination, but we instead treated it as a major splurge. Even treating it as a splurge, we made sure to prioritize the most important aspects of the vacation, and not waste money on things that weren't important to us.
Here's how we planned:
Savings/budget. It goes without saying that we had cash to pay for the entire trip, and had the money tucked away in our savings. Because we didn't travel much (at all) in 2020, we had carryover travel money available in 2021.
Flights. We needed six flights to Hawaii (ours, and my parents). Because of COVID, Alaska Air allowed you to carryover your companion fare to 2021. We took advantage of this, and split our travel into two groups. I added Nick as my companion, and used the 2020 companion fare, and then booked M & Sam together. This allowed us to use both companion fares, driving the cost way down. I also used miles for both of my parents flights. I booked early, when flights to Hawaii were still pretty reasonable, from a mileage trade in perspective.
Lodging. This one was harder for me, and I went back & forth quite a bit. After a lot of research, it was clear we'd need to choose our highest priority: having a kitchen, access to the beach, number of included activities, or best available hotel rooms. After polling the group, we decided that we wanted to prioritize the number of included activities, for a few reasons.
- Booking water sports for six people was really, really expensive
- Access & availability to the activities were highly varied
- The activities were the things the kids/my parents were most excited about. In fact, when we planned this trip, the boys & my dad sat down & planned out all of their preferred activities. The hotel we stayed at had a resort fee that included: stand up paddle boarding, snorkel/boogie board gear, kayaking, canoeing, work out classes, ukulele lessons, bingo, etc. We took advantage of all of these, saving a lot of money.