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Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

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Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

I have been researching a family trip for 4 adults and 2 kids...3 &11yrs old and need some help. My son wants to see volcanoes, waterfalls, and rainforests on our 2014 vacation. Does Hawaii offer all this and if so what island would you suggest. Per the other forums Maui was recommended since we will have kids but it seems the big island has the volcanoes but it could be a long drive to see them. I am very overwhelmed with trying to plan this trip. Any guidance you could give me on the below would be great. Also per other forums I am thinking mid Sep will be when we will travel.

1. Where to stay this is the min amount of people we might have more adults if the price is right

2. Things to do other than beaches

3. Is sep a good time to go for weather and buget reasons

4.we will have the grandmother with us so we would like an island that could offer a place for night life for a parents night or two

5. What do you suggest for the time needed there? We are coming from the east coast (Pennsylvania)

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1. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

Stay for a minimum of a week...10 days or longer would be better. If you hit the 10 day mark you could do two islands.

Big island has the only active volcano, which is probably what a child has in mind. It might not be flowing while you are there but it could be. It doesn't spew out of a cone like volcanoes in the movies...more oozes out of the ground.

Maui has Haleakala, a dormant volcano, which is very cool and an amazing landscape, if that would suffice.

As for time of year how flexible are you? Weather is good year round, really, but it is cooler in spring and fall and winter (as in, not as hot and humid,,not cool) and less crowded when school is in.

There is plenty to do on any island, just depends on what interests you. I think in the top questions there might be an entry on the different islands or you could check out the book Hawaii for dummies.

What do you and your family enjoy? Outdoors? Indoors? Beach? Culture? History? Activities?

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2. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

Thanks. We are open to EVERYTHING. This will be our first trip with my mom, brothers family and ours so I don't know what to expect. We like outdoors, shopping, and culture. We are open with dates except beg to mid june and end of aug to mid sep since the is the end and start of school for us. We are open to cooking also so we are ok with the condos as well. If we would do 2 islands any suggestions on the # of days we should spend at each?

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3. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

To the upper right of this page there is a "summary of each Island"...start there. We also rec the book "Hawaii for Dummies"...it has info and quizzes to help you choose.

May and Sept. are cheaper months to travel with fewer crowds. Keep in mind that the active volcanic flow requires a hike or a heli ride to view if it's even flowing next year, no promises.

When you decide on an island come back with a nightly budget and we'll try to help with condos.

Remember that flying between islands will eat up most of a day of vacation and after a long flight your first day or so will be fogged by jet-lag so figure that into your "day" count as well,

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4. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

Hi, coming from the East Coast, I would suggest spending at the very least 10 nights in Hawaii to make the long trip worth it.

General rule of thumb is 5-7 nights for the smaller islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui (as a minimum).

For the Big Island (Island of Hawaii), you need 7-8 nights minimum because it is larger than all the other islands combined. It takes about 3 hours to get from one side of the Big island to the other (the West side is the dry side where the beaches and resorts are located; the East side is where the Volcanoes National Park and rainforest and waterfalls are located), and for that reason many people recommend splitting your stay, with 1-2 nights East and the rest West. I think the Big Island is better suited for older children (your 11 yr old may love it) and adults, might not be ideal for taking a 3 yr old because of the long drives among other reasons.

In addition to getting the book "Hawaii for Dummies" read about the different islands on www.gohawaii.com . Also, check out pictures of the islands on trip advisor.

Time of year you come will really affect recommendations on which island(s). In Spring (May) to early fall (September) all of the islands have nice weather, with late June, July and August being the busiest months while kids are out of school. In winter, the North Shores of Kauai and Oahu will get more rain and have higher surf (and Maui's farthest North areas as well). Christmas time/ early January is very busy and expensive on all the islands, I would avoid this time. Maui is very popular and busy for seeing whales in January- March and for snow birds escaping the winter.

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5. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

We can throw ideas at you until your head spins ... and it will only make you dizzy! Pick up a copy of "Hawaii for Dummies," a highly-recommended travel guide that covers all the Islands. And get a good map of Hawaii as well. Pull up www.gohawaii.com. Beware, it's terribly commercial - but it is helpful for first-timers.

Bottom line: You need a good overview of your options before moving ahead. Get a good sense of what Hawaii has to offer - and what may appeal to your family. There are 4 major Islands and a couple small ones. Visitors fly between them, but the process is time-consuming.

Start by pinning down when you will travel and how many nights you will have. Also - who is coming!

It sounds like you want a condo or a vacation rental home.

Feel free to get back to us with more specific questions ... and if they are about a particular Island, use that Island's Forum.

September is a fine month to travel.

Maui has a massive dormant volcano, Haleakala. The Big Island - aside from Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea - has Kilauea, the only active volcano in Hawaii.

Edited: 30 August 2013, 16:35
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6. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

You have already been given some excellent info - I was just going to add a bit as a budget traveler myself.

Staying on one island is the cheapest - while interisland fares aren't too bad, they add up - especially for a larger party traveling, so if you want to keep it cheap, stick to one island. It is almost always cheaper to rent a car and a condo by the week as well.

Maui tends to be the most expensive island of the main islands, but you can find deals if you look. The key to saving $$ in Hawaii is research - researching your flights, your lodging and your car - even your activities. If you stay in a condo and eat mostly in, you will save a significant amount of money. Booking online for activities usually is a cost savings as well.

Flights - this will probably be your biggest expense, so find ways to make that cheaper. Compare all kinds of websites and different dates - many airlines will show their fares for any entire month and choose the cheapest days for the most savings. Consider getting a credit card that offers immediate savings or travel incentives but choose wisely. For example, we have Alaska airlines that gives us a companion fare once a year - one full fare ticket and then the other fare is $99 + tax - almost like 2 flying for the price of one. As well, compare the cost btw flying from your home state to Honolulu and then compare that with flying directly to the island you are choosing (if it isn't Oahu) - sometimes interisland from Honolulu is cheaper than direct from your home state - I always compare and have sometimes saved many hundreds.

Once you have decided on the island, post on that specific island for help with your lodging, etc. Happy planning! :)

Edited: 30 August 2013, 17:45
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7. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

We fly Chicago-Maui every winter. I look for widebody aircraft and one long leg. I avoid West Coast connections and the 757's that usually fly those routes. Until the Star Trek 'transporter room' becomes a reality, I consider the flights to be part of the trip, to be made AS endurable as possible. I suggest you fly East Coast on a 767 or 330 aircraft into Honolulu. You can connect to another island from there without leaving airport security, or you can stay on Oahu for a bit, then hop to a second island, returning home out of HNL again.

Most first time visitors want to see some of the historical sites in Honolulu: Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl, Iolani Palace, Diamond Head, etc. You could have a wonderful time right ON Oahu, splitting time between Waikiki (south) and Oahu's more rural north shore (not in winter). You need a rental vehicle everywhere outside of Honolulu; it's probably easier and more economical for your group to have on full time. You could even do a daytrip or overnight to Hilo on Big Island of Hawaii from HNL -- for those who want to see Volcanoes National Park. (Big Island is really BIG, and would be hot in late summer and early autumn.)

Kauai is gorgeous, but without much nightlife, especially the north shore -- most gorgeous (not in winter).

Maui has a bit of everything, even a taste of Kauai along the heavily tropical Road to Hana. There are tons of nice condos. There's plenty of nightlife. The dormant volcano, Haleakala, should impress your DS; you can hike into it. The snorkeling is good from many easy-access beaches. It's more convenient to tour the island from a base in South Maui: Kihei and Wailea.

I'd look for two condos within one complex for your group. Few condo complexes charge for parking; get two cars for flexibility.

One week = One island. Ten nights = Two islands. Two weeks = Three islands, unless one is Big Island. The interisland flights are about $100 pp one way and will eat up half a day. Here is a site with aerials and reviews of almost every lodging in Hawaii: www.hawaiirevealed.com

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8. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

<<Maui tends to be the most expensive island of the main islands, but you can find deals if you look. >> I completely disagree with this statement. So much of your budget depends on your personal preferences: where you stay ... where you eat ... what car you rent ... what activities you choose. This is true on any of the Islands.

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9. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

BLBL - what I meant (should have specified) is lodging. I have had no problem finding condos in the $75-100 range on the other main islands - that is much more of a challenge on Maui . . . I didn't say it was impossible, but it is more difficult and takes lots of research. The focus here on budget.

I agree that the rest of cost saving measures can be used on any island. :)

Edited: 30 August 2013, 19:18
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10. Re: Budget friendly family vacation for first timers......help

We seem to have plenty of threads on low-cost condos on Maui ... especially Kihei. I don't want to scare Kim off of Maui without a good try.

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