Travel Hacking Honolulu: 2 Flights, 3 Days Rental Car, and Airport Transportation for $277

Travel Hacking Waikiki

5 Weeks in Hawaii has been amazing so far and as I write this apparently it’s storming rain in Vancouver because of Pineapple Express.  Meanwhile in Hawaii I am enjoying pineapples (not the meteorological kind) on the lanai.

Of course, I am enjoying this trip is even more so because it is relatively travel hacked (using the ‘sharing community’ e.g. Airbnb/Uber/Turo and points). Although our Airbnb was pricey… our flights and transportation was not.  Here’s how I travel hacked our flights and transportation, to a degree.  Of course, I probably could have travel hacked it to a greater degree but I haven’t been able to concentrate on my computer for more than a 1-1.5 duration with baby GYM around, hence it is difficult to do hardcore research.

How I Travel Hacked Honolulu: 2 Flights, 3 Days Rental Car, and Airport Transportation for $277


flying to hawaii

Our flights cost $75 for each ticket (it was $75 for the taxes!), our baby traveling with us to Hawaii was free since he is under 2 years of age.  Each ticket was 40,000 Aeroplan points.  I collected these Aeroplan points over the span of a few years using credit card sign ups, going to Esso stations for gas, and traveling on Air Canada. Normally these flights are around $370 return (if you find them on sale) to $700 per ticket.

We tried to go with one check in luggage but this was pretty much impossible when staying for a month and with baby gear.  We had to check in two pieces of luggage.  This cost us $50 ($25 per piece of luggage).

The total flight related expenses were $200.

Once we arrived, we headed to the car rental place.

Getting to and from waikiki

Our flight arrived late.  It was midnight Vancouver time by the time we arrived (around 10pm Hawaii time) so we had a sleepy baby.  Renting a car to get to our Airbnb would be the best option as it would take the least amount of time.

I had some American Airlines points that were expiring in a month (I think under 7000?), and they were just enough for a car rental for a day.  The one bad thing about collecting airline points through different airlines is that they are hard to transfer over to each other without getting dinged (e.g. I can’t move my American Airlines points into my Cathay Pacific Asia Miles without losing points or having to pay).

We had to pay some extra taxes after using the points, and the car rental taxes were $11.80.  We brought our car seat from home so we didn’t have to rent a car seat.  We had to return to car to the airport or pay $30 to drop it off in Waikiki.  Since we wanted to see what taking the bus is like from Honolulu International Airport, we opted for the former option.

That night, we drove from the airport to our 1 bedroom condo.  It’s only about a 20 minute drive to Waikiki.  The next day we loaded up the car with groceries to save money on food at Don Quijote’s and Walmart.  We also drove about 30 minutes to the Waikele Premium Outlets.  Then, in the early evening (after rush hour traffic) we returned the car to the airport and then we took the bus back to Waikiki.  It is about a 1 hour bus ride.  The bus ride was $5 for two adults.  Unfortunately we had to get off the bus before our stop and walk a bit because baby GYM woke up and started wailing on the bus.  It was a long day just to save a few dollars, but the plus side is that I got to use up my American Airlines points that were about to expire (this is a glimpse into the crazy mind of an IRRATIONAL points addict).

For our return trip to HNL (Honolulu International Airport), I signed up for Uber and got a promo discount for $22 off the first ride. For a one way trip to the airport, it will cost us $13.50 (we are still here so I’ll let you know how Uber goes!  I am an Uber virgin).

In total, our To and From the Airport Transportation cost us $30 and this included a rental car for the day.  Not too bad considering it would cost us $40 for a shuttle roundtrip to get from the airport to Waikiki and back and we had flexibility to pick up some groceries on the way in.


We rented a 1 bedroom 600 square foot condo through Airbnb for about $3700 CAD. It had everything we needed including:

  • A pack n’ play for baby GYM to sleep in at night (because he refuses to nap it in during the day despite our many attempts)
  • A washer and dryer (this is so essential for traveling with baby!)
  • Internet
  • A full kitchen
  • Walking distance to food and groceries
  • A gym and a pool (these weren’t ‘musts’ for us but it was nice!)

Also it was much nicer than the place we rented last year, that was through VRBO.  Click here if you want to read the unpleasant experience.

This Airbnb condo was clean and without ants (read the VRBO experience if you are curious about the ants)!

1 bedroom waikiki

It also has a gorgeous view of the ocean from the rooftop:

Rooftop view Waikiki

Here’s the pool where baby GYM had his first dip in a pool (he really liked it surprisingly even though the water was pretty cold):

Pool Waikiki

renting a car in Honolulu

Renting a car in Waikiki is at minimum $50-60 a day for a compact car.  We paid $17 for our 24 hour car rental because I signed up for and got a $25 discount (Turo is like the Airbnb for car rentals).  We rented the car through but it was a local car rental company (ACE Rent a Car) instead of a private owner.  Even the car rental place employee said using Turo is cheaper.  We rented the car to drive to the North Shore for some garlic shrimp at Fumi’s shrimp truck and down to Kailua and Lanikai for some beach time (though it was very windy that day so we didn’t do much beach time unfortunately).

On another day, we rented the car to drive to pick up more garlic shrimp and head to Kailua and Lanikai again (those are our favourite beaches in the world, because of the white sand and warm crystal clear turquoise water) and this time our friend from Calgary signed up for Turo and we split the cost of a Sienna mini van after the $25 discount.  This was $30 for us because we opted for extra insurance through Turo.  We traveled with his 2 and 4 year old boys and they were well behaved but baby GYM was crying a lot by the end of the day.  We figure he doesn’t really like car rides too much.

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We didn’t have to rent a car very much because everything is walkable (including Walmart and Don Quijote’s, our food source) from the condo.

Total rental car cost for 3 days (including the first day when we drove from the airport): $47.

Well, that’s my mini trip recap so far, transportation was $277 for us to get to and around Oahu.

Readers, have you been to Honolulu before?  Are there other budget places to rent a car?

Travel Hacking Waikiki

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About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

20 comments on “Travel Hacking Honolulu: 2 Flights, 3 Days Rental Car, and Airport Transportation for $277

    • @Caroline- Wow, $33.50/day! That’s great- I should look into that maybe there are some corporate rates from my company too- I always assumed that the ‘deal’ wasn’t really that good so never looked into it! That beach actually wasn’t in Waikiki haha (oops) it was in Ko’Olina, on the west side.

  1. You know how I feel about travel hacking 😉 I’ve looked into Turo here in NYC and most of the cars are in NJ. So I’d have to go out of the way to rent a car. What we usually do is book way in advance, especially when there are known holidays when we’ll be travelling, or we take a train to outside of the city, so and rent a car from there. Enterprise picks you up and brings you to the car rental place, so we only have to worry about an Uber ride back to the train station.

    Your travel right now is actually SUCH a deal. $3,700 for an apartment for a month is so much cheaper than staying at a place for a week or two. To contrast, I paid $1600 for a week in Maui. You’re doing it right!

    Also, nice job with the Uber. I have never booked an Uber either, so I’ll have to capitalize on the intro coupon sometime!
    The Luxe Strategist recently posted…Three Questions I Use to Avoid Impulse-Buying TrapsMy Profile

    • @The Luxe Strategist- Makes sense that Turo cars are in NJ, I bet the cost of parking would make renting your car out not worth it… Oh good to know about Enterprise! I’ll keep that in mind for future trips.

      I think Maui is more expensive than Oahu too though, I’ve never been- we were GOING to go this trip but our time share offer didn’t go through (haha that’s another story oh dear…).

  2. Wow this is impressive!!

    I would never be able to do something like this. I admit that I’m HORRIBLE when it comes to finding travel hacks. I’m the sucker that would just try to find flights “on sale” and not get fooled by car rentals to buy so and so insurance if I’m already covered elsewhere. And I’ll probably find a decent price Airbnb… That’s as far as I can go.

    When I always read about travel rewards, signing up new CCs, and all these hacks about going to such and such place for almost free, I get so intimidated because I don’t know where to start. I focus so much of my energy in other areas of PF that I never really had the chance to understand how travel hacking works. How people like you do it is very impressive! I can definitely learn something from you!

    I’m also curious about signing up w/ a new credit card just to get those huge bonus points. I was never sure whether or not that would impact my credit score. These are things I’ll definitely have to look into (I’m pretty clueless here). Overall, this was a great post with awesome tips. Excellent job on all of this! 🙂
    fin$avvypanda @ recently posted…Fail-Proof Ways to Pay Off Our Debt in 2018My Profile

    • @Finsavvypanda- Awe thanks dear! I (like Luxe) find a sense of weird gratification from all of this. My husband probably thinks I’m a little insane (and is appreciative too at the same time for saving us money).

      Yes, signing up for credit cards can affect your credit score but I confirmed with Luxe 😉 (in her travel hacking post) that if you’re not buying a new home or buying a new car or applying for a loan anytime soon it shouldn’t be a problem. I usually limit myself to 1-2 new card applications per year.

      Also, the credit card offers in Canada are not as amazing as the ones in the States.

  3. That sounds like such a great holiday. Other than my credit card rewards and companion fares I never really travel hack. Something for me to look into.

    • @Steve- It’s addictive!! But credit card rewards are pretty much the backbone for travel hacking, so sounds like your’e doing it already.

  4. I was in Honolulu about 9 years ago on my honeymoon. We booked a compact car but ended up adding an upgrade for a couple bucks per day. We got a convertible mustang. It was great experiencing paradise with an opened roof when you travel.

    I am so jealous that you get to spend a whole monthly there. I may never want to leave if I stay there for that long.
    Leo T. Ly recently posted…The #1 Financial Goals That You Should AchieveMy Profile

    • @Leo- Beautiful place for a honeymoon! I always book the smallest car and hope that they upgrade me. They often upgrade me to a sedan or a bigger car, but never a convertible mustang! That must have been really fun to drive around. I’m actually surprised there’s not more convertibles in Honolulu since the weather is so great.

  5. We haven’t traveled a lot recently but when get the itch to want to go out and travel, I will definitely use yours and Luxe’s travel hacking strategy on collecting points and signing up for CCs. Its pretty impressive that you paid so little for 2 people for an international flight with car rental and transportation. And with Hawaii being a highly desirable vacation spot that’s even more impressive.
    Whenever I rented cars, I used to be suckered into paying for their insurance add-ons but the last few times I would waive it since my credit card would insure me from car rentals since it’s one of their perks. Should have known that sooner!!
    Kris recently posted…Financial Mistakes Part 2 – The College YearsMy Profile

    • @Kris- I did that before too as I didn’t realize my credit card had it as a perk. The credit card company doesn’t cover rental car insurance if you use Turo though, as it’s not considered a commercial car rental company.

    • @Helen- Thanks Helen! We are getting lazy as the walk is pretty far and loading up the stroller with groceries is getting heavy!

    • @Damn Millennial- I’m having a damn fine time! 🙂 (Well, minus today where baby was crying for 2 hours because he didn’t want to sleep in the crib and we ended up walking for hours to stroll him to sleep)

    • @XYZ- I used to have the SPG credit card (then it transformed into my MBNA World Elite Card) and I stayed in Westin and sheraton a few times. I’ll have to look into it again!

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