Cure Island Fever With These Cheap Vacations That Every Hawaiian Needs to Know About
Island fever -- we all get it from time to time. After all, living on the most isolated landmass in the world means there's only so far you can drive before you run out of road. To help you indulge your wanderlust (while still being able to pay off your student loans), we've rounded up some affordable trips away from Oahu that won't break the bank, including fun, free activities, low-cost accommodations, and cheap eats. So make your own spring break, get off the rock for a few days... and enjoy a nice change of scenery. We rounded up specific flights that are generally representative of prices you’ll find, but these specific prices are very definitely subject to change.
Starting price: $368
Trip dates: April 21-25
LA is the kind of place that seems super expensive to visit (and it can be). But you can actually do it on the ultra cheap and have lots of fun: you can reserve a car (necessary) for as little as $14 a day and stay in a VRBO for $55 a night. Chow down on the city’s best under-$10 lunches, scope out free views of the Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory, snap pictures at the iconic exhibit Urban Light at LACMA, hike through Runyon Canyon, or see an LA Angels game for under $10. More free fun: spend the day people-watching at any of the city’s iconic beaches and people-watch the day away.
Trip dates: April 14-17
Starting price: $298
This city -- which is the northernmost in the contiguous United States -- was once voted one of the top 10 adventure towns in the United States, and with good reason: this place offers hiking, ice climbing, and kayaking, set in a stunning glacial landscape with breathtaking mountain views. Plus, this picturesque town was named one of the Best Beer Cities in 2014 -- which makes this place worth visiting all on its own. It’s also a total deal: you can stay in the Bellingham Lodge for about $50 a night (score), and choose from a variety of wooded or lakeside hikes before dividing your pennies tasting glasses of brew along their tap trail. Added bonus: you could be the first of all your friends to post a selfie at Bellingham on Instagram.
Starting price: $379
Trip dates: April 17-21
Spend your tax return on a quick trip to the ninth island and try to double your money with anything from poker to the penny slots. Save your dollars for the gambling tables or the fashion outlets, and stay at a Sin City hostel, where you can sleep for $15 a night -- which may not be luxurious (yeah, that’s an understatement), but how many hours of sleep are you planning on clocking, anyway? Stay up all night and discover Vegas’ best dive bars or happy hours before chasing your hangover with as many carbs as your stomach can handle at an all-you-can-eat buffet for less than $10.
Trip dates: May 11-15
Starting price: $418
May is a great time to visit the City of Roses, partly because temperatures are rising, flowers are blooming, farmers markets are opening... and it’s right before tourist season, so the sidewalks are clearer, and the line for the world-famous Voodoo Doughnuts is shorter. Fortunately, Portland is ranked the cheapest big city in America, so you can show your date a good time or throw back some prime free bar snacks without disturbing that little accountant angel on your shoulder. Dining from Portland’s food cart pods is super affordable, and you can find a Pangea of food varieties, from Mexican to Norwegian, and Italian and Thai, all in one spot. While you’re in town, help Portland live up to their Keep Portland Weird motto and attend a Doggie Dash, run a Beer Mile, or say hello to ET at the UFO Festival.
Starting price: $436
Trip dates: April 18-20
As the island heats up, take a quick trip to the Bay Area, where average temperatures are 20 degrees lower than Honolulu. You can even get a cheap flight that’s nonstop both ways, so you won’t waste precious travel time sitting in airports, waiting for your layover. Instead, spend your hours living it up with fun, free activities, like window-shopping though the hills in Union Square, waving hello to sea lions at the Embarcadero, or power-walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can rest your head bunk bed-style at this coed hostel for $48 a night, chow down on burgers for $10 or less, and drink up at the city’s best happy hours.
Starting price: $469
Trip dates: September 2-10
Dip below the Southern Hemisphere and find out if the toilets really flush in the opposite direction Down Under. Stay in affordable beachside bungalows, or go rustic and camp out at parks and forests around Brisbane. Leave the USD to AUD conversion for another time and check out the city’s free offerings, like taking a scenic walk around City Botanic Gardens, staring at walls at the Museum of Brisbane, cooling your feet in the 1930s-era Wynnum Wading Pool or treating your ears to some free live music around the city. Plus you can spread out your savings with some inexpensive Brisbane eats.
Starting price: $457
Trip dates: May 25-30
The bad news when visiting Vancouver in late May is that you won’t find out why Canada is nicknamed the Great White North... or is that the good news? By late May, temperatures warm up to a pleasant average of 50 to 60 degrees, as flower beds bloom all around the city. Bunk like locals in affordable AirBNB apartments, then get to know one of the cleanest and friendliest cities in North America. Check out some beautiful Canadian beaches, including a nude beach, where you can legally strip down to your birthday suit, if you so desire. After you put your layers back on, check out some of the stellar free attractions around town: pack your own Frisbee and play a few rounds of disc or Frisbee golf at Queen Elizabeth Park, tour a 1920s village at Burnaby Village Museum, and test your fear of heights by crossing the 160ft-high, swaying and swinging Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge -- just try not to throw up over the edge.
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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist, whose dream trip is anywhere the pennies in her piggybank will get her.