The Hawaii Series, yes, we are experts Chapter 3

Hawaii series chapter 3 - getting there and beyond.Planning a trip to Hawaii from “North America” — or as they say in the Hawaiian Islands… the mainland?

Couple of things you should know and plan ahead for.

Flights: The Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu, Oahu being the hub, is served widely by many International and domestic carriers from North America. A lot of the “direct” flights occur from Western cities like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego and others.

Photo right: Palm trees. All shapes and sizes. You will find yourself looking at the sea… a lot… and the fabulous plant life!

And if you have done any flying anywhere, you will know that the secret to economy is booking ahead and/or using “miles” – we generally book 8 to 10 months in advance. And we have yet to use “miles” for anything – I was accumulating Aeroplan points for a couple of years – had about 60,000 of them – and then did not heed warnings about making a simple purchase to keep them up to date – and lost the entire castle.

As an aside, I think customer loyalty should work both ways… Just saying.

So plan ahead folks. The flight, in our opinion, is the first thing you should nail down when getting your trip together. Plan ahead. Shop around. And unless you notice the flow in this series of articles, the order of operations should be (our opinion)

  • Research your destination; books, internet, word of mouth
  • Shop and purchase your flight
  • Book your lodgings
  • Get your rental car
  • Shop for what you will travel with; clothing and accessories.

Car Rentals: The cheapest car rentals are quite likely on the Big Island of Hawaii – but do not leave this task to the last minute. My typical deal with Avis rent-a-car (slightly more expensive than most…) is less than $30/day unlimited miles when I book 10 months in advance. Try getting that rate when you arrive at the Airport and it could be 25% to 50% higher.

Most of the Big Island can be handled with a standard rental (is extra for a four-by-four Jeep or SUV type vehicle) and for many rental agreements this includes the often maligned and much improved “Saddle Road” – check your paperwork folks! From what I understand, AVIS is OK with the Saddle Rd. but I have never taken it – and our last visit (a month ago), there was snow on/about the visitors center – so no dice here. I hate driving in snow in North America and I sure as heck avoid it in Hawaii!

What to pack: Do not make the mistake I did this time. I had an full sized new bag (on rollers for check in) and dang it if I did not needlessly fill it up. No reason to bring 22 cotton T-shirts to Hawaii. But I did… Hauling 7-10 pair of Jockey tops and bottoms makes sense because I like to do laundry once a week when on the road. That and 3 pair of Tilley shorts, 3 ExOfficio shirts, my Tilley hat, Teva’s and slippers for the condo and I am good to go… and not including any camera, computer or electronics – I carry that on in most cases.

Security in the air: As we all know, since 9/11 travel has been less casual… less fun… more stressful. And for those of you that find flying a little nerve wracking (I don’t), the whole airport experience can be a little unsettling. The good news about Hawaii is (from my perspective), it is a pretty laid back place – it is not considered a terror hot-spot and maybe, just maybe, the TSA and airport experience is a tad more laid back. And unless you are flying (departing) from some place like New York, Washington or some other sensitive area, chances are the whole departure experience will be seamless. From our observations over the last 3 years in a row, TSA folks have been ultra-professional and lately, seemed to have developed a sense of humor. Go figure.
There has been a lot of chatter over the last 10 months about enhanced airport security — and yea, I think it is a good thing… but from what we witnessed, the only folks that were getting “enhanced” screening were setting off metal detectors (the old traditional ones) or families that had new children and were loaded up with young family accessories.
I know, the fact that Andrea and I are white, professional looking 40-somethings probably weighs in our favor. Cannot do much about that. That said, we were traveling around every shade and size of folks and no one in particular was being singled out… other than those that were bleeping the metal detectors – which is kind of the way it should be.

In our next chapter in our Hawaii travel series, we will talk more about the planning aspects of having a good time – research that you should not leave out – and setting your expectations and budgeting according.

Thanks for reading!