Working In Hawaii: No, It’s Not That Great

A new project my business took on last year has me traveling to Hawaii every few months. Every time I tell people where I’m traveling, it always elicits a “Oh, you poor guy” sarcastic response. I’ve literally gotten it at least 20 times. No doubt the Hawaii islands are a beautiful place, but is working in Hawaii all it’s cracked up to be?

Negatives: Time Zones, Mediocre Hotels, and Red Eyes

I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona and Hawaii are unique in that they don’t ever change their clocks. Therefore Arizona is always 3 hours ahead of Hawaii. The big time difference makes keeping up with work and family a challenge while I’m away. Often times I’m still on the road working while my wife is putting our daughter down and getting ready for bed. Furthermore, I’m typically inundated with emails that need attention right when I wake up to head out for the day. That makes getting breakfast and hitting the road on-time a struggle.

The hotel situation in Honolulu is sub-optimal at best for business travelers. I own my own business (with a partner) so we try to keep expenses as low as possible. Unfortunately, Honolulu just doesn’t have a lot of business hotels. Even if I wanted to spend some money, the nicer resorts are full of loud tourists and it just doesn’t make for a good place to settle in. Recently I’ve been staying at a Holiday Inn Express in Waikiki. It’s the closest thing I can find to a reasonable priced business hotel in the area. The lack of a lobby bar means you don’t have too many sunburned tourists wandering around in Hawaiian shirts drinking mai tai’s.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki – Image Courtesy of IHG

Another huge issue with Hawaii travel is the flight schedules. Most flights back to Phoenix are red eyes leaving around 11pm Hawaii time. The lone exception is a noon Hawaiian Airlines flight on the old 767 that arrives in Phoenix around 10pm. That means I either leave on the red eye once my workday is over, or I waste a whole other day to get home on a normal timed flight. I’ve been taking the red eye recently, but it’s a struggle for somebody that can’t sleep in a standard seat. I got back from my latest trip yesterday and was exhausted for the remainder of the day.

Bottom Line

Again, Hawaii is a beautiful place and I’m fortunate to have explored several islands for this project. At the same time I haven’t spent a minute at the beach and the travel portion is a struggle. Last month a separate project required a one hour flight to Denver, coupled with a 3.5 hour drive to Casper, Wyoming. While Casper isn’t Hawaii, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have a preference on destinations if I had to choose one over the other. In fact, I might lean towards Casper. It’s an easier recovery, a cheaper trip, and much simpler travel schedule. Have you ever worked on the islands? How was your experience?

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