Take a Tour or Plan Your Own Trip to Hawaii
As you plan your vacation to Hawaii, you will find you have a lot of options to choose from. On one hand are the organized tours, which will put you on a plane, meet you at the airport, take you to hotels, and bus you to the popular destinations. Many first-time visitors really like this approach, as do those who would rather not worry about details — it's very convenient, if you don't mind a tour schedule or traveling with a group. The tour companies do the research and planning for you, and you can choose the itineraries that fit your interest and budget.
On the other hand, many folks enjoy planning their own trips. You make all the decisions yourself, tailoring the trip to be as cheap or extravagant as you like. When you make your own trip, you can be as busy or as lazy as you want and customize your itinerary just the way you'd like it. This can mean a bit of work, but a lot of the information in this book should give you a good head start.
Travel Agents and Online Booking
In the not-so-distant past, almost everybody consulted a professional travel agent in order to make their travel arrangements. Experts in getting you here and there for business or pleasure, travel agents work on commission from airlines, hotels, and other tourist facilities. But many of these facilities have drastically cut the commissions that they pay out, and now a number of travel agencies have closed or now charge a service fee for expediting your travels. With the advent of the Internet, however, a new age has arrived in making personal travel plans. It's now possible to book plane tickets, hotel, and transportation from the convenience of your own computer.
Hawaii does not participate in daylight-saving time. On standard time, it's three hours earlier in Hawaii than in California and six hours earlier than in New York. During daylight-saving time, the time difference is two hours and five hours, respectively.
Find a Good Travel Agent
The advantage of working with a travel agent is that you are dealing with a live individual who is probably very knowledgeable, helpful, and enthusiastic. Working with a travel agent can be a pleasant experience. A good travel agent can offer solid recommendations, practical advice, and answers to most of your questions. You can also get help if something goes wrong, and you may get bargain updates for future travel.
Finding a local travel agent is easy; just look in the phone book. A visit to an agency is often worthwhile, as they tend to be well stocked with tour, package, and cruise brochures. Collect the information you find to be of interest, and study it at your leisure.
Go with a Specialized Company
You can also go to a company that specializes in Hawaiian vacation packages. Typically, they'll set you up with a package deal including flight, accommodations, and a rental car. Many also include sightseeing options. If you don't mind the fixed dates, flying on charter planes, or the limited choice of hotels, you can get a really good deal.
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a well-recognized travel-industry organization. ASTA members are required to maintain high professional standards, which means you'll be more likely to get great service from associated agents and agencies.
Going It Alone
Some people prefer to go it alone and make all their own arrangements. You'll find plenty of information in this book to help you contact airlines, hotels, and other establishments. The drawback to this approach, of course, is that you won't get the personal attention or other benefits of working with a professional travel agent.
For booking air travel, visit the Web sites of some of the airlines that travel to Hawaii. You'll also find plenty of information on the Internet for many of the hotels in the chapters that follow. For those who are looking to explore the various rate and route options, there are a growing number of online travel services that will help you through the process. Here are a few of the better known: