Our family of four is planning a trip to Hawaii in late August. I'm usually comfortable booking online, but comparing flights to and between the Hawaiian islands has me thinking of finding a travel agent.
We're traveling to Kauai for a five-day stay, but want to add three or four days at the front of the trip to see Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii. Is it safe to just buy tickets to Honolulu and figure out getting to Hilo, on Hawaii, and Lihue, on Kauai, when we get there? The inter-island flights vary in price from $60 to $200 one-way; multiply the highest fare by four and it could seriously crimp our vacation budget.
One series of flights home would have us depart Honolulu, change planes in Lihue, then fly to Phoenix and finally home. No matter how I plug it in, I can't find that trip with just the last two legs, which is all I want. Could we skip the Honolulu-to-Lihue leg and just get on in Lihue?

A Never skip the first leg of a flight; there's a good chance the airline would consider you a no-show and fill your seats. As for the rest of your questions, I say it's time to bring in a pro. It is best to rely on a travel agent when itineraries are complicated. Though most charge fees, agents can find better fares than you might on the Web and they know tricks that could land you that Lihue-to-Phoenix flight or find another nifty itinerary. There are any number of agents who could help with your quest for a carefree Hawaiian vacation, but here are a couple of Hawaii experts in the event you don't have an agent of your own: Yvonne Vavreck works out of the St. Louis Park office of AAA Minneapolis (952-927-2506). Karen Malone is at the Woodbury location of Travel Leaders (651-789-8845).