One of our cute friends recently used a post we have about 15K to Hawaii to book her family’s trip to Oahu. Kasey of Days of a Wife has two cute twins, and we are sharing her story today! Thanks, Kasey, for letting us share it!
Hey everyone! We just got back from our first-ever Hawaii vacation! We spent 10 days exploring the wonderful island of Oahu! The best part about it…we flew there for free! My husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and my two-year-old twin boys and I all flew there for free (we did pay taxes + fees & luggage charges). Let’s talk about how we did it, and then I will jump into our trip recap!
Travel hacking is the answer. If you’ve never heard of travel hacking, you really need to start learning! Travel hacking is using travel credit cards (responsibly!!) to pay for all your travels. However, this is more than just using miles or points. This is being strategic in what cards you sign up for and transferring your points to get MORE bang for your buck. For example, I spent about 90K in points for this trip for 6 round-trip flights.
While each ticket cost varies, we can safely estimate that those flights would cost about $3,600. The only cost I paid out of pocket was the taxes & fees that cannot be paid for with points, which I think was about $60 total for 6 flights. Also, I still had to pay for any checked luggage, which was $60 a bag (round trip). (Kasey used Capital One Venture Miles transferred to Turkish Airlines for her trip).
How did I do it? I simply followed the steps in Travel Hacking Mom’s post about roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for 15K miles. It required me to call Turkish airlines to get my tickets booked, and while it took calling a few times to get the right person, it wasn’t that hard. And if Hawaii isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other places you can travel hack to!
If you plan a stay in Hawaii, you will realize that the hotels and resorts are not cheap. Thankfully, my MIL & FIL have a timeshare we could use when we went, but I know that is not everyone’s scenario. There are many ways also to use travel hacking to cover the cost of hotels. I would look into Hyatt & Hilton for this possibility!
Also, renting a car (and paying to park it), especially in Hawaii, is not cheap. If you can skip renting a car for your whole trip and take advantage of shuttles, the bus system, etc., then do that! However, with kids that need car seats and because we wanted the flexibility of a car, we ended up renting a minivan through Turo. Turo is like the Airbnb of cars (people rent out their cars). We found Turo to be a lot more affordable than rental car companies. However, do ensure you get insurance when renting because most car insurance does not cover Turo like regular car companies (I even called our company to check!).
We stayed in the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. I had heard it was a very family-friendly hotel/area, and after going, I would certainly agree! There are multiple pools, fantastic beach access, and a large lagoon that is great for young kiddos to swim in you can also paddle board and do other fun water sports! There are also a lot of shops and restaurants in the Village, which is super convenient. We didn’t have much time on the beach/lagoon because it was a bit cold in the water (we went in February), but that’s okay because there is so much to do in Hawaii!
Note from THM: A family of four could stay here for 60K Hilton points a night.
First things first, we had to get to Hawaii….
We drove to D.C., stayed overnight, and then took two flights (D.C. to LAX and LAX to HNL) to Hawaii. Our boys did so well! I was shocked at how well they did on the flight.
P.S. if you want our favorite toddler travel items, here is a link to our favs!
On our first day, we decided to keep it easy since we were adjusting to a 5-hour time difference. We got groceries, and we went to Yogurstory for breakfast. Highly recommend this restaurant! I got the Ube waffles, so yummy, and then we spent some time at the lagoon!
We ate at the Italian restaurant in the Hilton Village called Fresco and then got some much-needed rest!
We were up bright and early the next day to head to Pearl Harbor. When planning our trip, I was confused about the Pearl Harbor information! Essentially, there are four main sites to visit, but only one of them is operated by the government (and is technically free, but you have to reserve tickets beforehand), but all 4 are within the military base. There was one site the boys couldn’t visit because you have to be 4, so we skipped that one, but otherwise, we did the other three! If you want more information, I found this blog super helpful!
We started at the Pearl Harbor visitor center and the USS Arizona Memorial. I debated if I should take the boys here, as it is a more somber environment (I wasn’t sure how they would do it), but we decided to, and we were definitely not the only ones with toddlers or babies! I will say that there is no access to a bathroom for the whole ferry ride to the monument and back time period, so with my newly potty-trained kiddos, we planned accordingly!
The last spot we visited was the USS Missouri, where the signed document ended WWII. It’s now a museum that you can walk around. Strollers have to be left behind except for the main deck area. (They will hold them for you at the entrance).
We really enjoyed seeing this ship. One warning, the “basement,” if you will, of the ship is a LONG walk, we were all done and feeling a little claustrophobic, and we just had to keep walking for a bit, so it might be something to skip with littles. Otherwise, we really enjoyed it!
We ended our Pearl Harbor day by getting some Dole Whip (yes, they have it right there at the Battleship eatery area!) and headed back to our room and got takeout pizza from Round Table, another really great restaurant on the Hilton Village property area!
The next day, the grandparents held down the fort with the kiddos while Todd and I headed to Kualoa Ranch for an ATV tour. If you’re unfamiliar, Kualoa Ranch is a privately owned beautiful chunk of property (I think they said 4,000 acres) well known for its appearances in many popular movies such as Jurassic Park. The views are absolutely unbelievable! You can opt for many different tours, but we thought the ATV tour would be super fun!
If you do take the ATV tour, just a warning that you will get dirty and dusty! We were caked in dirt, and everything (our phones, glasses, etc.) all needed a good wipe down afterward! But totally worth it!
You can read more from Kasey about her trip in her blog post, where she covers activities for two more days – she has a lot of fun things to do! We love that her big family, plus her parents made this trip happen with one credit card signup! And she used the more difficult Turkish miles deal – congrats, Kasey! Thanks for your Friday Family Vacation to Oahu report!
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