We got home from Hawaii a couple days ago, and we’re getting back to normal. Overall, we did a pretty good job at being frugal on vacation. We had a few dinners out, and took a trip to the Big Island, but we didn’t buy a lot of junk, and we stayed within our budget. We got to see tons of great sights, and do lots of hiking, swiming, surfing, and relaxing. We owe a huge thanks to J’s sister and her family – for a place to stay, a car, food, and the ultimate tour guides – you guys are awesome!
We found ourselves very drawn to the natural wonders of Hawaii, and tried to avoid the commercial, touristy areas as much as possible. We enjoyed places like the North Shore of Oahu, with its sleepy small towns and beautiful beaches. We loved Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the small towns we stopped in during our travels. We liked seeing aspects of true Hawaiian culture, and the spirit of Aloha that greeted us along the way. We weren’t so impressed with places like Waikiki, which is overflowing with tourists and junk for them to buy. The stores along the main street there – including Chanel and Prada – have nothing to do with Hawaii, and are just aimed at people who are on vacation to shop. It could have been Vegas. We ended up there one evening and left as quickly as possible to go to dinner in a smaller town on the other side of the island.
For us, traveling is about seeing new things that we can’t see at home, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people. We got to do all of that during our time in Hawaii. And avoiding touristy areas (largely designed with shopping and over-priced dining in mind) is about the best way to truly experience a new place, and save money in the process. One of our favorite places in Hawaii was Volcano National Park, which costs $10 to enter (waived if you have an annual National Parks Pass). We packed a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and some fruit, and got to spend the whole day hiking around a truly one-of-a-kind place, for less than it would have cost to have lunch in one of the commerical tourist areas of the state.