Dream Vacations on a Real-Life Budget

We asked Parents readers what destinations they're dying to visit, and then we took the list to a half-dozen travel experts who specialize in finding bargains. The result: this trip planner that could literally save you thousands.


children hula dancing

Courtesy of Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Save on airfare More planes fly into Oahu and Maui than to other Hawaiian islands, so you can usually get a better deal if you vacation on one of them. "You'll typically find the lowest-cost airfares to Hawaii in January through mid-April and in early fall," says Gabe Saglie, a senior editor for travelzoo.com. What's a great rate? With taxes and fees, $650 round-trip from the East Coast, $550 from the Midwest, and $325 from the West.

Sleep cheaper Upscale resorts are lowering room rates and adding perks, says Kyle McCarthy, founder of Family Travel Forum (myfamilytravels.com). Take the Camp Penguin package at Hilton Hawaiian Village, on Waikiki Beach. Starting at $279 per night, it includes free admission once during your stay to the camp (where kids 5 to 12 can go shell hunting and build volcanos in the sand) plus discounts on spa treatments and beach activities. On Oahu's quieter North Shore, the Turtle Bay Resort (a haven for horse-loving kids) offers a "fifth-night-free" package. Stay that long, and an oceanfront room with two queen beds and a lanai where you can hang out after you put the kids to bed works out to less than $200 per night. On Maui, vacation deals abound too. The summer rates at the oceanfront Ka'anapali Beach Hotel start at $166 per night, and kids ages 5 and under eat free. Plus, there's no charge for many of the activities like hula lessons and lei-making. With the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa's Family Vacation package for four starting at $279 per night, the family gets free breakfast and kids 12 and under eat lunch and dinner at no cost too. Another option: The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Its Sunsational Savings package gives you a third night free and breakfast for two daily; use promo code ZS3.

Eat well for less On Oahu, try Diamond Head Market & Grill, where you can get a sandwich for $6. Maui Tacos, with several locations, serves up grilled fish, chopped salad, and, on the kids' menu, a bean-and-cheese burrito.

Find freebies There's no charge for any of Hawaii's beaches and many, like Kama'ole Beach Park on Maui and Kailua Beach Park on Oahu, have a grassy area and nature trails nearby. On Maui, you can get free hula lessons and lei-making classes at Whalers Village. On Oahu, watch a fireworks display at Waikiki Beach every Friday night.

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