Traveling as a single parent with your family? Yes you can do it and yes it's safe! And we are excited to show you how we traveled to Hawaii!
Purpose of Traveling as a Single Parent
No matter the purpose for your trip, relaxation as a single parent should be your number one priority! The purpose of our trip to Hawaii was for my graduation. I've been in school for seven years and wanted to celebrate but also thank the kids for being so patient through all of it. We've never done any trip like this before but had always talked about it so I knew this would be a fun surprise.
- Purpose of Traveling as a Single Parent
- Is Traveling As a Single Parent Safe?
- Planning Your Trip
- Destination and Timing
- Steps to Take in Advance
- Credit Cards
- Airfare Discounts
- Accommodation Discounts
- Discounts on Activities, Souvenirs and More
- Saving Money on Food when Traveling as a Single Parent in Hawaii
- What to Bring from the Mainland
- Things to Buy on the Island
Is Traveling As a Single Parent Safe?
Yes! A lot of forums I read through to find information on traveling to Hawaii as a single parent asked about how safe it was to travel alone with kids there. I felt completely safe most of the time. Some of the higher traffic tourist areas do have higher vehicle theft rates so be safe when storing your valuables. You also don't want to leave your belongings unattended on the beach.
Remember you are also needing to be totally hands on all the time with the kids. Becoming tired and exhausted is a reality so leave some time in your day to recuperate so you aren't driving tired.
You will also want to discuss safety guidelines with your children, including staying close to you in crowded places, being aware of surroundings, and following water safety rules.
Planning Your Trip
Here are some tips for traveling as a single parent to Hawaii:
Destination and Timing
- Which island should you visit? Different islands can vary in price, so you'll want to spend some time researching where to go and what island will be the most cost effective. We opted for Oahu.
- Time of year: Depending on the time of year you can really find some great deals too.
- Plan Ahead: Part of planning is also looking for family-friendly accommodations, activities, and attractions that cater to your kids' interests and ages.
- Fly strategically: Weekday flights and red-eye departures are often cheaper. Look for deals using aggregators like Google Flights or you can use one of my favorite Flights from Home.
Steps to Take in Advance
There are a lot of websites that offer information for traveling to Hawaii on a discount and we definetely did our reading. My goal was to keep our trip costs to a budget.
Six months to a year before this trip I started to establish a budget and research a lot and credit cards were a big way I was able to get points earned for our trip quickly. I utilized a couple different ones to get me mileage and money I could turn over to use for activities and food while we were on vacation.
This one is tough to find and honestly without the use of credit cards I could cash in for airline miles would have been tougher. Our travel agent Scott let us know another way to save on airfare which is bulk airfare.
- Bulk airfare: Bulk airfare is a discounted type of airline ticket sold to specific buyers, typically not directly to individual passengers. Unlike the published fares you see when searching for flights on your own, bulk fares are negotiated deals between airlines and: Travel agencies and tour operators, tour operators, corporations or consolidators.
- Key features of bulk airfare include lower prices, but some restrictions including availability, change fees, minimum stay requirements and blackout dates.
- Bulk airfare might be a good option if: You are flexible with your travel dates and destinations, you are traveling with a large group of people, you are not planning on making any changes to your itinerary and you are willing to accept the restrictions that come with bulk fares.
For us, we found that a rental house was the way to go. We stayed at the best AirBNB on the North Shore.
But this is where you can really save some money too by cashing in points for hotels. Many of my single friends love hotels because some of them have free childcare or children's events so they can have a little break.
We have even had some of our friends do timeshare resorts where they attend a 2 hour time share meeting during their stay and get some pretty cool perks or stay for 4 days and 3 nights for $99-$199 for the whole stay.
Discounts on Activities, Souvenirs and More
- Military Discounts: Hawaii treats military families very well and some of our activities came at a very reduced cost. My friend was a military veteran and some places we got 50% off or more on our activities.
- Souvenirs: If you are staying in Oahu, one of the best places to get some delicious free food samples and inexpensive souvenirs is at the Aloha Swapmeet. You can easily spend a few hours here.
- Activities: Some other great ways to save money on activities is through the Hawaii Entertainment Book, which offers deals on food, shopping and activities. The Aloha Swapmeet also had some travel companies offering free activities like helicopter tours to swimming with dolphins in exchange for listening to their companies travel pitch. Groupon also offered some good deals too but more for activities that were more conventional like trampoline parks and paint nights. We also found a big list of free things to do on Oahu, along with some additional tips for traveling as a single mom. We also found some great deals on social media.
Saving Money on Food when Traveling as a Single Parent in Hawaii
This can be one of the easiest ones to do depending on where you stay. Some resorts may offer free breakfast buffets or free nighttime s'mores.
- Eating out: We try to eat out as little as possible since this can be a budget killer but if you do try looking at some of these free places for kids to eat in Hawaii to save some money.
- Splurge: One thing we've done to save money is have one splurge day. This is the day we spend our most money. For us, we did the Polynesian Cultural Center buffet dinner and show to combine an experience with a meal on our splurge day.
- Bring your club card! You'll save a lot of money getting groceries by going to Costco or Sam's Club while in Hawaii. We froze water bottles and put them in our beach bags to enjoy cold drinks on beach and excursion days. We also opted to get our beach towels for super cheap from Costco.
- Make your meals: There are plenty of meals we enjoyed from Costco like ready made salads, frozen pizzas, pulled pork and chicken for sandwiches, and sandwich items.
- Easy meal planning: Simple meals with just a few ingredients is key to making your budget work while on vacation. Opt for easy meals like chicken nachos, or desserts like grilled donuts! You can sign up to get a month of meals plan that includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners and dessert ideas!
What to Bring from the Mainland
When traveling as a single parent, there are a few things we suggest making sure you bring from the mainland:
- Water shoes: You'll get these much cheaper on the mainland and they are really nice to have for hiking and at the beach. The beach has lot's of sharp reefs and rocks in the water depending on where you go.
- Multiple swimsuits: Stuff takes longer to dry out in Hawaii and you are in and out of the water a lot so having multiple swimsuits you can switch out makes the day much nicer.
- Portable chargers: Perfect for beach days!
- Portable electronics: We found this was nice for kids to have at night when the kids were tired or on the plane.
- Backpack: A MUST for your excursions, beach days, etc.
- Flip Flops or Sandals: A must in Hawaii but the best for beach days
Things to Buy on the Island
We suggest making sure you pick up a few of these once you get on the island:
- Wet wipes: We suggest packing anti bacterial wipes. Some of the bathrooms on our excursions didn't have soap in them and the beach bathrooms don't always come stocked with soap so these were nice to have on hand.
- Beach towels: We bought these cheaply at Walmart but then found them even cheaper at the swapmeet. We just left our towels for the next AirBNB guests when we left.
Have other great tips to share? Leave a comment! And don't forget to check out some of our other travel adventures!