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Maui on Budget
If you are
thinking about a trip to Maui, or already booked, a little budget
planning can ensure you get the most for your vacation dollars.
We travel to Maui
every year with the goal of staying as long as possible!
Each year as we plan funding for the trip I take some time to
review trip costs and plan the vacation expenses in advance.
Although on several occasions we have attempted to adjust the
budget planning to reduce costs, we find each trip comes in near the
Trip expenses fall
into three major categories – flight, fixed daily, and per person
There are a wide
range of options for flights to Maui including direct flights from many
west coast cities, and connecting flights via Los Angeles or Honolulu. Costs
per ticket from San Francisco typically runs $350 – 650, depending on
specials and availability. Flights
from L.A. are about $50 less, and from other western cities $50 more.
As a web-savvy
traveler I watch the Maui flight costs regularly, and booked our first
few trips online. Surprisingly
though, I have gone back to booking through a travel agent as they offer
better flight availability, and lower rates!
The travel agent competes by buying blocks – groups of seats at
a discounted rate to resell with travel packages.
On our last trip we not only purchased flights for less, but also
got seats on the exact flight we desired… one that was sold out
online! Traveling with kids
can be challenging, so getting a daytime, direct flight is quite
Fixed Daily Costs
While staying in
Maui there are a number of expenses that are essentially independent of
number of travelers. These
expenses include the rental car and lodging as the biggest items.
The car will run
$30-35 per day standard. One
word of caution… Maui rental car agents put used car dealers to shame
when it comes to rental practices.
The process includes all the “… insurance with that? extra
driver? gas coverage? upgrade? …”.
To control your rental costs there are a few things you may
consider – First, read your insurance policy as you may be covered in
a rental car already. Choose
a primary driver and pass on the “extra driver expense”.
Finally, be ready for the pitch and know what you want before
Maui does have
“used” car rentals as well. They
will pick you up at the airport and have reasonable rates and cars.
If you are taking the flight-car package discount this will not
be an option.
Lodging is the
area you can have the most significant impact on travel budget
management. If you book a
vacation through a travel agent they will offer you standard hotel
packages. Hotels are easy,
and generally provide nice accommodations.
The downside of hotel vacations is the higher prices, single
room, and no kitchen.
table lists a small sampling of the published hotel rates for 2004 for
the more popular Maui vacation hotels.
(Suites to $10,000)
rates are based on web published rates on 12/29/03.
Our first family
trip to Maui (including wife and infant) was to a lower cost vacation
hotel in Kaanapali. We
found the accommodations …less than desirable… and ventured out to
find an alternative. We
ended up at a condo in Kihei the remainder of the trip, and have
returned to the same complex every vacation for the past six years!
When you stay in a
condominium you get a fully furnished “home” to use for your
vacations. Unlike hotels
this includes bedrooms, kitchens, dishes and dishwashers, TV and VCR,
many have washer-dryers, and a lanai.
Like hotels most condominium resorts have pools, some have
activity centers, and workout rooms.
The rooms typically are only cleaned once per guest when you
range as low as about $45 per night to about $400.
A sampling of some of the popular destinations in Kihei is
provided in the following table. These
numbers represent only one-bedroom units; two-bedroom units run
approximately 30% more.
rates are based on web published rates on 12/29/03 found on www.vrbo.com.
a vacation condominium online is easy.
Many are linked through the standard search engines.
For one of the most complete listings check www.vrbo.com
(Vacation Rentals By Owner – One of the
largest listing sites).
Per Person Expenses
Once the flight,
car, and lodging are covered, the remaining costs are for normal daily
activities and entertainment. For
simplicity we group our general and entertainment expenses.
For a family of
four we plan $100 per day to cover the general expenses.
It runs about $25 per person, although the first person runs more
and additional travelers less. If
you are staying in a hotel this number will be significantly higher as
you will have to eat out for all meals.
living could reduce the daily expense further, but keep in mind you are
on vacation! The last thing
you want is to travel to Maui only to sit in a room to save money.
We enjoy our
vacations by balancing a few touristy events with days on the beach, by
the pool, or snorkeling. We
planned one extended vacation based on a reduced $75 per day, but found
at the end of the trip we blew our budget and still came in at $100 per
day… money well spent.
Bottom line Expenses
If you are
traveling on budget, here is a summary of what to expect.
Legal disclaimer “…all travelers are different so results
may vary…enjoy your vacation!”
$400 per person (U.S. West coast)
Lodging & car
$135 / day (condo assumed)
$25 per person per day
Couple – Two Weeks
Family of 4 – Two Weeks
on Budget means getting the most vacation for your money.
By planning your vacation spending in advance you can be sure
to enjoy the most within your travel budget.
Knowing your options when booking flights, cars, and lodging,
can free significant amounts of money to enjoy on other vacation
activities. For us, Maui
on Budget means spending wisely and staying longer!
article is provided by Mr. Marc Elpel and SunsetMaui.com.
Mr Elpel has been an avid activity based traveler for years.
Motto – “Travel is for doing, not just seeing.”
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