15 Travel Blog Hacks We Learned in Hawaii (Which You Can Apply Everywhere)

When I was in grade school, I used to think of Hawaii as a foreign land of islands where only lucky people in TV shows occasionally got to visit. The life of looking super cool doing beach things all day seemed impossible to touch. Well all you need to discover the wonders of the islands today is a travel blog. DearTraveler and I just took our blogs on the 4 plus 6 hour flight journey mps-lax-Honolulu and learned a whole ton along the way, not just about how to live on Hawaii but how to travel blog hack it! Check out our list of the below 15 travel blog hacks for your next trip to the islands – most tips apply to any vacation!

The North Shore of O’ahu, photographed with DearTraveler’s iPhone fisheye lens attachment.

Please note we do use the word “hack” a bit generously here. I can imagine some would disagree on what “hack” means”. In our case, a “hack” was just simply anything we had been doing or others had been doing that we learned to do better, cheaper, or for more value/fun. Plus, it was super fun just randomly shouting “travel blog hack!” when either of us found one! Ok, enjoy!

  1. Get the right equipment (on a budget) to improve sound and visuals when filming both outdoors and indoors. Gear is always a tough purchase with so many options out there – plus we’ve all bought that expensive item that just doesn’t work. Well here’s what WORKS – for SOUND: Rode Electret Condenser Mic for Mobile Devices with Wind Sock to cancel outside noise and wind, while improving voice clarity and depth. For PHOTO/VIDEO quality: Pro Snap 5-in-1 Lens Set, including fish eyes lens to get more of your field in the view (like more people or more of a view) plus a wide lens, up close, and long range lens, plus one we didn’t quite figure out. All items delivered from Best Buy or go pick it up like we did, this is a rare case when Amazon didn’t have the best gear for the job.
  2. Don’t book seats until the gate. TWO times guys, we didn’t reserve seats on Sun Country Airlines until we got to the gate. BOTH times we got upgraded seats! The first time, we got a Sun Country Comfort set of seats at the front of the middle section of the plane, so extra leg room and no one annoying in front of us leaning back or something. The second time, we got exit row seats obviously next to each other again on the last leg of the trip. This kind of extra comfort (next to your significant other) can really help the blogging flow.
  3. We aren’t convertible people until we are convertible people.

    Try to upgrade your rental car or at least ask for one. In our case for a mere $15 more per day we upgraded from a Toyota Carolla to a BMW 430i convertible. This sort of spending isn’t splurging if it improves your mood and overall excitement doing basic tasks like driving on a trip!

  4. If any hotel messes up or overbooks your reservation, and they say they have to move you, ask for some comps like free breakfasts (free money). Hotels don’t want you to cancel or reduce money from your reservation, buy they will be willing to move you into a more expensive room to keep your costs and overall satisfaction from dropping. In our case, they overbooked our Villa room at Turtle Bay, and the manager ended up giving us a cottage at the same price. So we got a $1200/night cottage for about $600/night!
  5. For on the go blogging, always use Instagram. The audience is already there, this will help you remember moments better as they are happening and basically travel blog hack your memory, and you can hashtag the resort to get featured in the resort’s Instagram stories!
  6. Okay the next travel blog hack here isn’t really a blog hack, more of a hack on your surroundings, but it can make a major difference in your night and give you a story. This advice is just to be on the lookout at all times for celebrities. For example we were shopping at Stoke House in Waikiki, then left to get some free cookies at Honolulu Cookie Company, and in the meanwhile Sean White came in the store to try on some boarder shorts with his mom. If we had been more aware or just slower, we coulda Shaka broed out with the legend!
  7. Hashtag lots of common travel blog hashtags on Instagram and you may get messaged by new brands who’ll send you free products, and ask you to join their ambassador programs! Think we snagged a couple of these invites throughout the 7-day trip.
  8. This beautiful breakfast won’t look as great in a to-go box, but the taste should hold up the next day.

    Always get a to-go box and any breakfast buffet or any buffet in your hotel. Use your mini fridge and you’ve got a snack or entire meal later.

  9. Always use Trip Advisor or Booking.com to book rooms especially last minute as opposed to going through the hotel’s main website. In every case when we needed another night, we’d call the reception to see what they could offer, and reception would either quote us a “best price quote” way more than travel websites or tell us there we no rooms left. The third party sites have bought rooms in advance and want to get rid of them, so you’ll get a better deal. Just don’t expect to be able to modify or upgrade such reservations made last minute through a third party website. This item in our list of travel blog hacks is almost a guaranteed money saver.
  10. If you don’t want to pay for leis or anything really, you may find them at the front desk or even discarded from previous hotel guests. Bit sketchy, but the budget life requires it.
  11. Okay guys, now for one of the most important, stand-your-ground-esque travel hacks on this list. If you’re ever late to a booking or activity, and the resort tells you “it’s policy” to fully charge you for a late arrival or no show, you have to argue it. Nobody cares about your policy, resort, and nobody does business like that. Be polite at first if you’re in such a scenario, but absolutely do not accept a charge for an activity, item or service you’re unable to enjoy for whatever reason (like being late due to traffic). If you need help on what to say to pull off this one of our travel blog hacks, just ask in the comments!
  12. Nearly all pools and bars/lounges are outdoors and open to the public in a nice setting like Hawaii, so don’t let one property’s pool/bar be the selling point.
  13. And, for the second to last piece of advice in this list of travel blogging hacks, you should try AirBnB’s near a resort for a better deal than rooms on the resort! After paying about $460 for a last minute night at the Turtle Bay resort to get some more beach and golf time in, we met two military guys at the poolside bar who said their paid $150/night for, get this, a two story villa ON THE GOLF COURSE itself, complete with balcony overlooking the 17th hole of the Arnold Palmer course. Insane good deal we never thought of.
  14. As a final travel blog tip, don’t use Greg’s phone camera.

    If you find a baggage weight limit charging you $$ at the airport, and it’s an automatic machine kind like in Honolulu airport, DON’T PAY the fee. First, you could ask the attendandt if it’s okay that your bag is only 1-6 or so lbs over weight. If they are a jerk, just wait until the baggage attendant isn’t around, then empty your baggage as if you’re going to move it to your carry on, then reweigh your bag (there’s an option for this on the kiosk), check the bag, print the tag, then dump your stuff back in and bring your bag to the bag drop! 🙂 We saved $100 coming back doing it this weight, I mean come on! Full credit to Christa and her quick thinking here.

  15. Last but certainly not least, keep AT LEAST TWO MAPS APPS handy if you’re driving. In our case, Google Maps dropped the ball in some really dicey situations (like when we were 5 minutes from the airport but it kept taking us to close exits, eventually taking us 45 minutes). Having an app that more readily picks up road info like Waze can totally save you here, just have your copilot download and double check for the best route.

Got travel blog hacks of your own? Please add them to the comments below or email us at gregATdearbloggerDOTorg!

Still need to start a blog? Check out our complete YouTube blogging guide to create any kind of blog!

You can find a few more pictures of our Hawaii trip on our latest GoDaddy website tutorial, or simply follow DearTraveler on instagram! Thanks for reading as usual!

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