Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three months in Hawaii on $27/person/day.

One housesitting gig and two HelpX farmstays later, we managed to spend 86 days in Hawaii without totally breaking the bank. We still spent a lot of money, but not as much as we would have visiting New Zealand and getting back to the mainland - and that was the whole point.

Well, almost the whole point. The other point was to have fun! This was our last "overseas" stay before hitting the mainland, after all. So perhaps we indulged a bit. Whatever. We're okay with that.

Here's the lowdown...

Initial budget: as little as humanly possible
Actual cost: 86 days at $4637 ($54/day, $27/person/day)

  • Lodging: $334 - one night in Hilo and three AirB&B nights in the southernmost US city, otherwise we spent 70 nights on farms and 12 nights housesitting
  • Transportation: $2066 - includes our flights from Melbourne to Honolulu and Honolulu to Kona, plus 7 days of car rentals on the Big Island
  • Groceries: $826 - groceries in Hawaii are EXPENSIVE! one third of this accounted for food costs not provided at our second farmstay and we bought all food for the initial housesitting gig
  • Meals: $249 - one unfortunate meal at Zippy's, one awesome meal at Tanioka's, two delicious meals at Puka Puka Kitchen, and various snacks from food carts and farmer stands on the Big Island (meals on the islands are also EXPENSIVE!)
  • Tours: $458 - Big Island manta ray night dive (EXPENSIVE but soooooo worth it!), annual national parks pass, plus a few dollars here and there for other tourist attractions
  • Alcohol: $506 - because there's nothing like a cold beer after a hard day at the farm... especially when all you want to do is cry your eyes out because your 2-year around-the-world trip is coming to what appears to be an end

for the record, this beer is delicious
(and hoppy!)

and this beer is alright too

and a few of these were pretty good

and we were thrilled to have these options again

but we couldn't even bring ourselves to purchase this one
  • Gear: $10 - running shorts for Jen because Hawaii is hot
  • Miscellaneous: $189 - gifts for various hosts, renewing our HelpX membership, an ill-advised NYE viewing of The Hobbit Part Three, a GroupOn wine tasting on Oahu, mailing unneeded items home, various other bits and pieces

Other fun Hawaii facts...
  • Islands visited: 2 (Oahu, the Big Island)
  • Sea turtles viewed while snorkeling: 1
  • Gallons of Kona coffee consumed: too many
  • Pounds of fresh papaya, palmelo, lemon, avocado, bananas, and organic veggies and herbs consumed: one hundred billion
  • National parks/historic sites visited: 1 (Volcanoes National Park) but with only 2 national parks on the islands, we can claim 50% on this one
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited: 1 (Volcanoes National Park)
  • Level of sadness that our international travel has ended, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being saddest: 593

I would bet that most people probably spend $4600 per person on a single week in Hawaii, so I would definitely call this a success.

And now the mainland... with whatever that brings. We're trying to get excited about it. Really, we are...

but does the mainland have this?

or this?

or how about this?

We don't think so...


  1. I loved your budget breakdown and good for you for staying within that budget!

  2. awesome breakdown of that budget! fascinating! and hawaii groceries are a nightmare!
    ladies in navy

    1. Thanks - we did this for all of the 17 countries we visited. Curious to nerd out on bar graphs to see how the costs compare across the world. :)

      And yes, $7 for a loaf of normal bread, are you KIDDING me??

  3. The nighttime manta ray dive sounds incredible! And I feel you on the expensive groceries. Ouch.

    1. Oh my gosh, it was... it was... we were at a loss for words. I posted this sample stranger's YouTube 4-minute video to our Facebook page. We experienced 30 full minutes of this.

  4. Wow this is so crazy! I would have thought it would have been so much more $

    1. Thanks Rachel! Yeah, after 2 years on the road we've become quite good at being frugal. If you can't do a work exchange or long-term housesit I'm afraid it *will* be much more than what we spent... Lodging is insane there. (But so worth it!)

  5. Wow! You really did some great budgeting. Sounds like a great experience.

  6. This is so impressive! I'm dying to get back to Hawaii!

  7. Inspiring! Farm stays sound really cool! What an experience. Thanks for breaking this down

    1. Thanks Kristi! Yep, we've had a lot of fun during our farm stays through WWOOF (world wide opportunities on organic farms) and HelpX all around the world...

  8. $7 is about what we on the mainland pay fora loaf of Hawaiian bread - so it's only fair