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Budget-Friendly Hawaii? [NewlyNested]

I have a serious case of I NEED A SUMMER VACATION blues!  We usually don’t get one since we always visit our families for a week and half, which usually burns up our vacation time and stamina for our travels.  This year we are still doing that and I am going to Vegas, but still, even with those trips planned I just really need to get away.

This has actually been a theme for the year.  We have already taken two long weekend getaways to Palm Springs and Santa Barbara.  I also know we’ll be going to Catalina Island (I just don’t know for how long) this summer too.  These little weekends just don’t seem to satisfy my need for some real R&R.  Now I find myself longing to go to a place I never wanted to go before:  Hawaii!

You might be thinking, crazy, why didn’t you want to go to Hawaii before? My answer is not a good one.  As a child I heard it was way too touristy and therefore not fun. To be honest, I’ve gone to many touristy places and have had an amazing time.  I also was a bit of a Bahamas snob, only wanting the still crystal blue water.  Now that has changed and I am dying for a luau, water ice, and volcano hiking.

My only problem is that I have learned I don’t know how to plan a budget friendly vacation.  I priced out a bunch of vacation packages to Maui and had decided that the Ritz Carleton is the best deal.  I understand how not true that is, but ever since my honeymoon I have been a vacation princess.  I proclaimed to my husband that we were only allowed to fly first class on our honeymoon and then once in first class I said, “I am never flying coach again.”  I kept that up for about a year, but since have moved back to coach.  To be honest, I just don’t want to pay the Ritz Carleton price (about $400/night) for my Hawaii vacation this year.

When we did the first class and Ritz thing for our honeymoon our life and priorities were very different, for one we didn’t own a house.  At the same time I refuse to stay at any kind of cheap motel.  Is there any way to have an in-between Hawaiian vacation?  I honestly was not made to find out.  I don’t really know how to look for a hotel in-between the budget friendly Motel 6 and the high class Ritz.  For me, all the hotels in the middle just don’t make it onto my radar.   This way of thinking puts a damper on a lot of travels I would like to have in the future.

How do you plan your vacations?  Any budget-but-also-amenities-friendly tips?