Want to travel to Hawaii with your family? What's it like going during Covid-19? All your questions are answered here....
1. How much do you tend to save for these adventures?
The amount to save for an adventure depends on where you are going! We really don't like the winter, so every few years we save up and take a really big adventure to a warmer climate (ie. Australia/NZ, Maui, Chile, or Kauai this year). Typically, we budget about $10,000 per month for all 6 of us. But it's usually less than that because we get good deals on flights (see below) and stay in vacation rentals that we can cook our own food.
However, you don't have to do big or long vacations to create really great memories together. We loved going to Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park or other spots that are just a few hours drive from our house.
No matter your budget, you can find ways to vacation together. Camping is one of our favorites and that's not very expensive.
Also, we try to save money whenever we can. We stay in places that we can cook our own food. Our favorite activities to do on a trip is hiking, biking, going to parks, swimming or browsing cute towns and those are most of the time free.
We have never taken our family to Disneyland or big waterparks. We prefer nature and less-crowded entertainment and that helps us save money, too.
2. Taking time off school?
Leaving school can be tricky, especially with older kids. Since our kids are still young (3rd grade and younger), it's easier to pull them out of school for these extended adventures.
We know that it will be much harder (or at least that's what families with older kids keep telling us) to leave with older kids, so we are trying to take advantage while we can.
Thankfully, we have really great teachers and a school that are supporting this. Of course, since there is lots of virtual learning being done anyway, it was easier to slip away this year. Our kid's teachers have given them packets and homework to work on while we are gone.
We know that our kids are going to miss some of the content, but we like to say, "Don't let schooling get in the way of education." If our kids were really struggling with school, it wouldn't be good to take them out. But we feel that if we keep having them read and stay up on math, they are going to be just fine.
Plus, experiencing new cultures, being with family, and doing hard things are really great for teaching lessons, too.
3. How did you prepare your family's budget for this trip?
Traveling is a big priority for our family! We have a savings account at our bank called "Fun Fund." We set up automatic transfers to add money to this account often. Any extra money we get usually goes into this account as well.
Some people have really nice cars, clothes, boats, or other toys. We prefer to spend our money on traveling. We don't have car payments and my husband drives an old Corolla.
I think you have to really decide what's important to you and make it happen, even it takes a while to save for something.
My dad was a school teacher and my mom didn't work when I was growing up. There were 7 kids, but that didn't stop my parents from taking our family on lots of family vacations. My parents really valued time and making memories together, so that put that above cars, furniture, clothing and eating out. We rarely ate out. And on vacations, it was treat to have one meal at Wendy's! We had a camping trailer that all 9 of us slept in so we wouldn't have to pay for hotels.
4. Did you get any deals on flights/stays? I'm dying to go to Hawaii but it's so pricey.
Hawaii can be expensive, but you can totally find good deals on flights and stays.
We subscribe to the free Flights From Home emails to get notified of cheap flights out of Salt Lake City. If you can fly out of SLC, this is a great resource and has helped us find really cheap flights!
My husband and I had tickets for Kauai in September 2020, but had to cancel because of quarantine rules. We got both of our tickets for under $500 roundtrip (about $250 each). The tickets were around $700, but we signed up to get a credit card that immediately took $200 off of our total price.
There are varying opinions on credit cards, but we always say YES to a credit card offer that will get us really good travel rewards. Usually the first year is free, so we will use it to book tickets and a few months and then cancel the card before we are charged the annual fee. I think we have gotten 4-5 free round trip tickets over the years doing this.
For this Kauai trip, we used Google flights to look at dates for cheap tickets. Use the calendar feature to find dates that are green-- that means those are the good deals for flights. We based our trip dates off when the tickets were the cheapest.
Even though my husband I had only paid $450 for our tickets, we got $700 credit when we canceled our flights. Our family of 6 flew to Kauai for $1500 after using the flight credit we had.
We hit the jackpot when we found a brand new 3-bedroom Condo in Kauai for half the price it normally is. I think it was a good rate because of Covid-19, but I just searched on AirBnb and VRBO for good deals. Finding good deals can take time, but you can find them.
Another way to save money on lodging is working directly with the owner. When we lived in Australia for 6 weeks, the we worked out a deal with the owner to pay them directly so we could avoid the extra booking fees. It might not always work, but it's something to try!
5. Have you explored the other islands? How does Kauai compare?
I came to Kauai right after high school and we took our family of 5 to Maui a few years ago, but this is the first time being back in Kauai.
Over the years, we've learned that we like slower paced areas with water and lots of hiking and outdoor activities. So that's why we chose Kauai! Also, I came right after high school, but my husband and children haven't been before so we thought it would be fun to try somewhere new.
Maui is beautiful and very kid-friendly, too.
6. Where did you get Covid-19 tests?
We got our Covid tests at Walgreens. They were free! You can sign up for tests 72 hours before the day you want your test. The slots open at 5 pm the night before. Spots fill up within 5-10 minutes, so be ready to get them quick! You'll need insurance info and need to fill out a different form for each person who needs one. Anyone 5 and older needs a test.
TestUtah.org is also a free option and they have more spots available. If you can get Walgreens appointments, I recommend that route since you can do the tests yourself which is way less painful. I have a Test Utah test and the nurse did the test and literally scraped my brain for 10 seconds. It was so painful.
If you have any other questions, leave a comment and I'll answer them!