3 Reasons I Opted for an Airbnb Stay for My Hawaiian Vacation


I’ve wanted to visit Hawaii since I was a young child, and I was thrilled to finally make this trip happen earlier this year. I was celebrating a milestone birthday, and the prospect of doing so in proximity to palm trees and a tropical beach was irresistible.

I booked the biggest pieces of the trip (plane tickets and a place to stay) six months in advance. The island we visited is full of hotels — but I ended up reserving a vacation condo listed through Airbnb for my travel companion and I. Here’s why.

1. It was cheaper than a hotel room

The reason I often look to Airbnb vacation rentals if I’m going to be staying anywhere for longer than a night is because the price usually shakes out better than for a hotel room. I spent $1,262 for seven nights in a condo located just a block off the beach. The payment was helpfully split into two chunks — another nice feature of Airbnb, especially if you like to book far in advance like I do. It came complete with amazing views from the balcony.

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To get a fair assessment of how much more I would have paid for a hotel room in the same area (chosen for the view and easy walking distance to many amenities and attractions), I took to Google to check prices for hotels. For one, located next to the condo building, I got a price of $1,810 for seven nights. For a higher-end hotel also in the neighborhood — $2,549. Prices vary, and if I’d had my heart set on a hotel, I likely could have found ways to cut my costs — for example, if I had a hotel credit card, I might have been able to use accumulated points to defray the cost of a stay.

2. Kitchen facilities

Renting a condo rather than a hotel room offered me another way to save money beyond just a lower price for my booking. Grocery items are noticeably more expensive in the Aloha State than they are on the mainland (with good reason — with the exception of some food items that are grown locally, everything else must be brought to Hawaii via plane or boat).

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I ended up spending $370 across two grocery trips during my week’s stay — some of those items came home with me ($35 for a bag of whole kona coffee beans, ouch) and others were ready-made, but I also bought groceries to make simple meals in our condo. These consisted of meals eaten cold, or those that could be microwaved or put in a toaster. Plus, we made heavy use of the provided coffee maker.

In fact, we managed to eat two meals in our condo most days — breakfast every day as well as either lunch or dinner. Meanwhile, between the two of us, my travel companion and I spent about $805 on dining out during our trip — how much higher would that credit card tab be if we didn’t have a place to store and prepare food where we were staying?

3. More home comforts

Finally, I decided to find an Airbnb for this vacation because I knew we would want more home comforts than one often finds in a hotel room. The condo was not large, but we had enough space to settle in, as well as a dining table where we could eat meals and I could use my laptop to check up on work and my finances.

While we occasionally heard and ran into other guests and residents (often in the building’s lobby or elevators), it was not at all like some of my recent hotel stays, with noisy teenagers running up and down the halls when adults were trying to sleep. It was homey and comfortable — and I got some of the best sleep I’ve had in years.

Let’s be honest — flying several thousand miles and paying for room and board in Hawaii probably isn’t ever going to be cheap. But I’m glad that I took the time to weigh the pros and cons of hotel rooms versus vacation rentals. Ultimately, I made the right choice for my personal finances.

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