Getting to Maui on Four Wheels

Strap Some Wings On This Thing – We’re Headed to Paradise.

Check it out. We got to Maui on four wheels by trading our hard earned road mileage for some much needed air mileage. We’ll share this and other tips that made this tropical island trip possible for two self-employed, motorhome-dwelling, road ramblers.

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned, it’s that traveling leads to more traveling. The more we go, the more there is to see. So, it’s no wonder that Hawaii eventually fell into our path.

Around the first part of 2011 while on a snowy Yosemite excursion, we received an invite to Maui. Wow, a place to stay on one of the Hawaiian Islands! That got us pondering the possibilities of the far off, bear-less, 50th state.

The investigation started. How much would it cost? How long would we stay? Just one peek into the cost of merely getting there, sent our lava flow dreams up in smoke. Topped with a rental car and the price of food in paradise, this tropical U.S. destination was adding up fast.

Honestly, we gave up. Not something we usually do so easily, but the expense made the last state of the union, the last state the Cheddar Yeti crew was ever bound to reach.

If you saved $2 per day for one year — you’d be in Maui right now.

The Longer You Travel, The Less Travel Will Cost.

At some point we realized that with all the fill-ups in our 1988 fuel-hog beloved-house-on-wheels, we’ve racked up some mileage points on our credit cards.

So, with some clickity clackin’ on the Internet, the good news started to slide right in. We could get a companion ticket anywhere for 99 bucks thanks to our Alaska Airlines card. Score.

Next, we managed two back to back reservations for rental cars, totally FREE. Using two different cards and two different reservations to span the duration of the trip. That amazingness, combined with the gracious hospitality of our friends on Maui – turned this once far off state into another Yeti-willing destination.

Our Top 10 Maui Deals

Thrill of a Deal Save This Pay That Take Note
1 Haleakala Sunrise $10/per car + $4.65 in Fuel 3-day, park pass is also good for The Seven Sacred Pools
2 Snorkeling FREE BONUS: We got to swim with Sea Turtles in addition to the fish and coral, priceless!
3 HWY 340 & HWY 30 by Car $5.81 in Fuel Iao Valley State Park, Kahakuloa to Lahaina. Free scenic overlooks, swimming/snorkeling holes, and views-a-plenty. 40 miles.
4 Road to Hana $13.08 in Fuel Yes, you can drive HWY 31 past Hana in a 2WD car. No, Hana is not the point of the trip. It’s the drive. Free access to hiking trails and waterfalls. 90 Miles.
5 Beach Walks FREE Go at Sunset. Kihei and Kaanapali beaches have paved paths.
6 La Perouse Bay FREE Go early to see the dolphins. Wear good shoes to hike around the lava-flow beach.
7 Peep a Lu’au +$112.00 $0 Go to Betty’s in Lahaina at 5:30p to catch a glimpse of the Feast of Lele happening next door.
8 Gas Grapple +$72.00 $0 Skip the “Bring it Back Empty” Rental Car, gas, ‘deal.’Small Island, slow traffic, it’s easier and cost effective to bring it back full.
9 Travel Hack +$500.00 per week $0 A Rental car is a must. Free is just rad. Oh, and skip the Rental Car Insurance, too.
10 Free Parking +$6.00 – $15.00 per day $0 Look for the Beach Access signs between the hotels.

Photo Journey of  Maui, Hawaii

Wait, wait, can you hear that? Yes, the strum of sweet Portuguese Ukuleles are yodeling over the putt putt of our generator. And that’s no over-the-cab leak my friend, that’s the condensation of a Mai-Tai in my hand.

Cost Breakdown of Our Twelve Day Maui Trip

The Expense We Spent Take Note
2 Round Trip Airfares $710.64 Direct, Sacramento, CA to Maui, HI. Includes all taxes/fees.
Rental Cars $0.00 Mileage Awards cover all you need. If you opt for the Gas ‘deal’ or insurance – you will have a balance. You don’t need’em.
Gasoline $134.90 We hit about every roadway on the island.
Accommodations $0.00 Our hosts are awesome, generous, beautiful, gracious, kind… We took them to dinner and are forever thankful. Mahalo.
Food $1,026.56 Includes Groceries, Eating out, Drinking, and a Luau for two
Excursions & Entry Fees $168.12 Maui Ocean Center, Glass bottom boat, Haleakala NP
Gifts, Souvenirs, Postage $109.24
TOTAL $1074.73/each or $623.00 per week/each

Resources List

  • Sleep on the Cheap by Couch Surfing.  Become a member at Couchsurfing.com
  • Learn the art of Travel Hacking. “Beginners Guide To Travel Hacking”  from Chris Guillebeau’s Blog, “The Art of Nonconformity”
  • $2 a day travel savings plan. You can see by our budget, it can be done! Try it for yourself.
  • Maui Insiders Guide Book Our friends on the local scene loaned us a book called “Maui Revealed”, an insiders guide to the island.

So, just remember that anything is possible, even getting to Maui on four wheels!

2 thoughts on “Getting to Maui on Four Wheels”

  1. This is so awesome! I could have used this about 2 months ago. Over a year ago I booked our timeshare in Maui on Thanksgiving week. I had hoped that we could get other friends to join us, since we booked two rooms that would both sleep up to 6 people, which would in turn help pay for our airfare. Alas, none of our broke friends could or wanted to afford it so we had to cancel our plans. That, coupled with the fact that our beloved Jayhawks were actually playing a tourney in Maui, made for one big disappointment. Next time, I’m NOT going to cancel and instead get better at travel hacking. Thanks for the report, love the pics!

    1. Yeah, Thanksgiving week I hear is super crowded and prices go up for the holiday season around then. Keep your eyes on October or early November, it seemed to be very quiet (we never booked anything in advance, there were always openings the day of) , PLUS the plane ticket prices were really good. When we got to the island we wished we really had the Yeti, there were such great camping opportunities. We did see two RV’s on the island!

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