You Win Some, You Lose Some

Graduation leis are a BIG deal here in Hawai'i.
Graduation leis are a BIG deal here in Hawai’i.

I’ll start with the bad news first.

We have the following expenses coming up for WenYu and YaYu in the next few months:

  • Swim team banquet: $80 ($40 each)
  • Track uniforms: $20 ($10 each)
  • Running shoes for YaYu: ~$80 – $90, give or take
  • Sports physicals: $24+ ($12 co-pay each but there’s usually a little more)
  • March track invitational on Oahu: $400 – $600 ($200 – $300 each)
  • AP Exams: $460 (exams are $92 each – 1 for YaYu, 4 for WenYu.)
  • YaYu’s annual eye exam and year’s supply of contacts: $350
  • Unknowns: Don’t know yet if WenYu will be going to prom or not, and we have to purchase lei for her graduation, including a haku to wear on her head.

We’ve already decided the girls will not be attending the track invitational on Oahu in March, and thankfully grad night and WenYu’s graduation paraphernalia (gown, mortarboard, tassel, etc.) has already been taken care of as well as her graduation present, but that’s still a LOT of money going out in a short period of time. Extended family members will help cover the cost of some of WenYu’s lei, and she will also receive some from friends (but then also has to give some to friends as well). YaYu and I are also going to make a couple of fun lei for her.

It’s also looking like YaYu will be attending summer school as well (more $$), so our June trip to Oahu will either be cancelled or get moved to later in the summer.

On the bright side however:

  • Brett got a Hawaiian Airlines Visa card: When we spend $1000 in the next 90 days, he will earn 50,000 bonus miles (!!!), plus, with the purchase of one ticket he will receive a companion ticket at 50% off (and if we buy them using the card we will earn double miles for the $$$ spent). Along with our other accumulated miles the bonus will give us enough to get Meiling and WenYu to and from the mainland twice at no cost, a potential savings of over $2500. There doesn’t appear to be a deadline for the 50% off companion ticket, so we plan to hold off and use that savings for our Japan 2017 trip! We’ll use the Hawaiian card on the Mystery Vacation™ and then pay it off as soon as we’re home!

You lose some, but you win some too.

Planning An Oahu Visit

Waikiki Beach. That's the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the lower left-hand corner; the Hale Koa is right next door, just out of the picture.
Waikiki Beach. That’s the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the lower left-hand corner; the Hale Koa is right next door, just out of the picture.

One thing we haven’t done since we moved to Kaua’i last year is visit any of the other islands. We’ve all transited through the Honolulu airport on various other travels, but that’s it. The Mystery Vacation™  is coming up next March, but we have been talking for months about taking a short hop over to another island and decided early next June would be the best time to go.

But, which island to visit? Urban Oahu? Beautiful Maui? The Big Island? Rustic Molokai? We put it to a vote and Oahu came out the winner.

The trip’s purpose is three-fold: Celebrate WenYu’s hard work (YaYu’s too) and her graduation; check out a different Hawaiian location (and remind ourselves why we left city living); and, most importantly for the girls at least, do some shopping. Kauai’s shopping options are extremely limited, to say the least, and there are things we all need to restock.

As military retirees we are eligible to stay at the Hale Koa Resort on Waikiki Beach. Located right next door to the famed Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Resort, the Hale Koa offers great rooms at very affordable prices. For example, an oceanfront room for Brett’s rank is just $221/night, taxes & fees included; a regular room without a view is just $152/night (we booked an oceanfront room). The resort has great restaurants and entertainment on site, but is also located within walking distance to many other affordable dining options. And, there’s beautiful Waikiki beach as well, right out the Hale Koa’s back door. The only downside to a Hale Koa stay is that there is no shuttle service to or from the airport. We’ll either have to hire a taxi, pay for commercial shuttle service, or rent a car.

There are several flights per day both coming and going from Lihue to Honolulu, so finding a flight won’t be an issue. What will be an issue is finding a good price. We have enough miles to fly for free using Hawaiian Airlines, but are saving those miles to get the girls to and from college so will have to pay full retail price. There are no kamaaina discounts for residents, either :-(.

While we’re not normally mall shoppers, the huge Ala Moana Center is located just a short 20 minute walk away from the Hale Koa, and the Hilton Village shops are right next door. Down the road the other direction there’s even more shopping. The girls want to visit the BIG Oahu Goodwill store, but that will require either a drive or bus trip. Brett and I would like to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial site while we’re there and see some of the other sights like the USS Missouri, but will most likely do that via a bus tour arranged through the hotel. Mainly though we all hope to relax and soak up the sun on Waikiki. One of the great things about traveling with teenagers though is that we don’t always have to be doing the same thing at the same time!

So, here we go again. Let the travel saving begin again!!