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May has been a very hectic month for me. I graduated a couple weeks ago and just two days after graduating, boarded a plane to spend a week in Hawaii. As with any first-time trip, there are many unforeseen costs that came up. Here are a few that I anticipated ahead of time….and others, not so much.

Frugal Wins

Getting an Airbnb

Booking an Airbnb for my trips is a no-brainer for me. It’s much more convenient—and often way cheaper—than getting a hotel room. The same turned out to be true when I was searching for lodging arrangements in Honolulu.

Most of the hotels I looked up were close to $150 a night, before taxes and fees. Staying at a hotel would have run me more than $1000. This was way over my budget, so I quickly moved my search to Airbnb.

I found a spot only minutes from Waikiki Beach for $83 a night. After taxes and fees, it came out to less than $700 for the week. It also was in the “expensive” part of Honolulu, from what I was told by various Uber drivers. I don’t know about you, but I think snagging a room in a ritzy part of Hawaii for under a grand is a pretty sweet deal.


View of private beach near Airbnb


Groupon Deals

As with most trips, airfare and lodging tend to be the most expensive. Once I got that squared away, it was time to make plans for the fun stuff. Another one of my go-tos when traveling is finding deals through Groupon.

One of the deals I found during my search was a parasailing package for two for $77. I was obsessed with the idea of going parasailing prior to my trip, so I was all over it. Aside from the cheap cost, the excursion was probably my favorite thing to do while in Hawaii.

Finding Cheap (But Good) Eats

Just like everything in Hawaii, spending on food can be super expensive. However, my friend and I managed to find quite a few spots with decent prices—that were also very tasty!

For breakfast, we tried places like Sweet E’s Café and The Koa Pancake House. I’m a sucker for omelets, which is what I ordered from both restaurants, and they were delicious.

There was a local Mom & Pop restaurant with some amazing short ribs. (The name escapes me now and I paid cash, so I can’t check my bank statement…another fail, I know.) Also, way more pork than I care to admit consuming. But, when in Rome…I mean, Hawaii, do as the Hawaiians do, right?

Of course, I can’t talk about food without talking about dessert. While walking from the Airbnb to Waikiki Beach, we happened upon Banán, a local food truck that offers dairy-free banana soft-serve treats. I’m not a huge fan of bananas, so I was skeptical at first but…Oh. My. God.


soft serve banana

Can you say heaven in a cup?! If you’re planning on taking a trip to Honolulu, this has to be on your to-do list. No excuses.


Frugal Fails


Although parasailing was an awesome experience, it didn’t come without a slip-up on my end. I woke up later than planned, and my friend and I wanted to grab breakfast before heading to the pier.

We overestimated how much time we had to eat and get back to the pier. I called an Uber that was supposed to be four minutes away but ended up taking more than 10. Our session was scheduled at 12pm, and it was already five minutes after. I called to let them know we were running behind and was informed that the boat had already left.

We were able to reschedule another session, but with a rebooking fee of $20 per person. On top of that, I decided to cancel the Uber and was charged a $5 fee.


We all know how much I hate fees, so I was annoyed for the next couple hours about the consequences of my poor planning.

Overindulging in Uber

Part of the allure of a tropical getaway was taking a break from driving for a whole week. While discussing transportation options, my friend and I admitted that we didn’t want to spend most of our time navigating around an unknown city.

We agreed to split the cost for Uber rides wherever we needed to go. For the activities we did during the week, this turned out to be a pricey decision. Fares were no less than $10 for a one-way trip.

I checked my Mint account to see how much I spent on Ubers in Hawaii and it was over $250. Doesn’t sound bad, until you factor in that this is only my half of the rides we took that week. This means over $500 for one week of Uber rides.

It definitely would have been more cost-efficient to get a cheap rental car, at least for a few days. Still, I have to admit a week of no driving was lovely.

Forgetting to Pack Essentials

I called myself being on top of everything by packing most of my clothes a week before my trip. However, I still managed to forget some key items…which I realized just moments after my husband dropped me off at the airport.

Among these items were my eyeglasses, headphones, and black soap. Listening to music is a must when I’m on long flights, so I grudgingly purchased a pair from the convenience store at the airport for $14.

My husband mailed my eyeglasses to me, along with another pair of headphones, not knowing I had bought some before my flight. Then, while unpacking in Hawaii, I realized I actually hadn’t forgotten my headphones; they were in one of the many compartments inside my handbag.

Yes, I’m face palming myself for that.

It Was All Worth It

In spite of the financial hiccups, I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to experience Hawaii. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time and taking this trip to celebrate my graduation felt like the perfect ending to my journey.

Hiking the Manoa Falls Trail

Now that I’ve had time to relax and take some much-needed time off, I’m ready to see what’s in store for me post-graduation. Stay tuned!

Have you ever been to Hawaii? What are some frugal wins/fails you experienced during your trip?

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