Arizona Travel Guide On A Budget

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Hello friends! I recently went on a little adventure with my mom that I had to share with you. Mom and I always like to plan mother-daughter trips during the summer and since we’re from Miami, FL, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to check out the mountains and canyons of the west coast. We had always wanted to explore The Grand Canyon and we had never been to Arizona, so we thought, let’s make it a small road-trip within the state.

We arrived in Phoenix, drove to Sedona, and then to Grand Canyon Village. Then, we did the same thing in reverse, since we had to catch our flight back home in Phoenix. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We were able to see three completely different cities in just 5 days without breaking the bank. We experienced the glam & city life of Scottsdale, the country life in Sedona, and the breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon.

The one thing that allowed us to save so much money on our trip was Expedia. We always use Expedia for our trips, as we’re able to accumulate points that help us save on our next venture. We found that since we had to book a flight, a hotel, and a car, not only was it more convenient, but it would be cheaper too. So, that’s exactly what we did and what you could do too. Going on vacation shouldn’t be extremely expensive; with the right tips and tricks, you’ll see how we were able to explore 3 cities in Arizona in 5 days for under $2,000! Below is a detailed travel guide of our adventures in the magnificent state of Arizona, I hope you enjoy!


Day 1: Arriving in Phoenix, AZ

As soon as we landed, we rushed to the car rental terminal because we couldn’t contain our excitement. We wanted to have our car already so that we could start exploring. The employees at Enterprise were so sweet and even gave us a free upgrade to a convertible Ford Mustang. The car came out to $248.40 for the entire trip! We were ecstatic about this. I can’t tell you how many times we cruised around downtown Sedona listening to Blake Shelton’s, Sangria.

Meet Lola, our ride for the week.

Lunch: Before heading out of the airport, we stopped by Starbucks to grab a quick bite. We need something fast and yummy so that we could start exploring Phoenix before we had to leave to Sedona.

Afternoon Activities: After lunch we went to Old Town Scottsdale to do a bit of shopping and exploring. One thing that amazed us was that the downtown was relatively empty and quiet, which was great coming from such a busy city, like Miami. It was so nice to talk to locals and shop in a calmer environment. After perusing through Scottsdale, we hopped in our car and headed to Sedona.

Lodging: The first night we stayed at The Arabella Hotel Sedonawhich was very comfortable and convenient because it was close to all of the activities that we wanted to do. The price for the night came out to $97.27, with our Expedia points applied.


Day 2: Sedona, AZ

Waking up in Sedona is breathtaking. I can honestly say that this city was the highlight of our trip. Not only are the people genuinely kind, but the scenery is beautiful.

Breakfast: The Arabella Hotel Sedona offers a delicious complimentary breakfast. I had a bagel with cream cheese, some eggs, bacon, and of course, a cup of coffee to get my day started.

Day-Time Activities: One of the best activities in Sedona is Slide Rock State Park. Let me just warn you, if heights are not really your thing, the drive to this national park will be a little scary, but so worth it! The admission varies from season to season, but it will never be more than $20 per vehicle, for the entire day. The national park has so many natural formed slides, but be careful because it is a little slippery. Trust me, I fell more than once. I would recommend packing a couple of snacks & drinks, towels, & water shoes.

The beautiful scenery at Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, AZ.

Lunch: We were starving when we left Slide Rock State Park, so we decided to explore Sedona’s downtown and grab a quick-lunch. We headed over to Sedona Pizza Company, which was delicious. Mom and I both had salads, because after the intense workout at the park, we felt like we needed to eat something healthy. BUT, we did hear from locals that their pizza and pasta are to die for, so I would recommend trying that. For the most part, lunch in Sedona is inexpensive, unless you’re eating at an award-winning, 5 star restaurant, and even then, the prices are still really good. Our lunch at Sedona Pizza Company was around $30 for both of us.

Dinner & Night-Time Activities: After our long day at Slide Rock and perusing through Sedona’s downtown in search of gifts, we were exhausted and we knew we had to drive to Grand Canyon Village, so we checked out of our hotel & started getting ready for the drive.

Lodging: One thing that is interesting about The Grand Canyon is that they actually have hotels inside of the park, so you can choose to stay within the park or in Grand Canyon Village, right outside of the park. We really wanted to have the experience of being inside the Grand Canyon, so we stayed at The Yavapai Lodge. What made this hotel unique was the forest that surrounded it. Since it was inside of the park, it was very peaceful and quite and there were deers always running around. With complimentary breakfast vouchers, our stay came out to $213.39 for the night. You also need to pay $15 to get inside of the national park, but this includes shuttle busses, museums, and entrance into The Grand Canyon.


Day 3: Grand Canyon Village, AZ

Oh, special day. We were so excited because this was the day that we were finally going to experience 1 of the 7 wonders of the world. I was so happy that I had made a travel outfit planner because we were able to save so much time in the morning. 

Breakfast: We headed to the lobby to enjoy our complimentary breakfast to get ready for the long and adventurous day ahead. Hotels that offer this deal are great because you’re able to save at least $30 daily for breakfast.

Day-Time Activities: The best thing about staying inside the park is that you don’t need to drive anywhere, since there are free shuttle services that take you around the majestic canyon. So, we waited for our free shuttle, which took us to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We started at the South Kaibab Trail. This trail is so much fun, but it is a bit scary if you’re not really fond of heights, like myself. I would recommend wearing hiking shoes or sneakers and something comfortable. After an amazing, but terrifying hike, we decided to catch another shuttle to a different part of the South Rim. Our shuttle took us to  the Yavapai Geology Museum, which allows you to see the canyon through an immense glass window and learn about the history of the park.

Hiking the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

*Emily’s Tips For The Grand Canyon:

  • The Grand Canyon is busiest during the summer months, so if you’re going during this season, try your best to get to the park early to avoid the rush.
  • Even in summer, towards the early morning and late night, the canyon gets very cold, so pack a light sweater if you’re planning to spend the day at the park.
  • During the day, the inner canyon can get very hot, averaging temperatures of 120 ºF / 47 ºC, so try to go very early if you’re planning to go deep into the canyon.
  • Drink LOTS of H20. You will be walking A LOT, unless you’re riding a mule or you’re taking a jeep tour, so be sure to stay hydrated.
  • Research the different trails of the canyon and see which is best for your family. There are very easy trails, but there are also very challenging ones.


Mather Point at The Grand Canyon.

Lunch: We knew we wanted to get going before sundown, so we grabbed a quick-lunch from our hotel and headed back to Sedona.

Dinner & Night-Time Activities: After lots of hiking and a long drive back to Sedona, we felt like we needed food and a nice, warm bed. So, we ordered takeout from a local restaurant and relaxed.

Lodging: We stayed at our favorite, The Arabella Hotel Sedona, which came out to $131.73. This was hands-down the best hotel of our trip. Not only were the employees helpful and kind, but there were so many amenities available, along with a spectacular view of the canyons around the hotel.


Day 4: Sedona, AZ 

Truth be told, I was thrilled to stop by Sedona again. I didn’t know how we were going to fit everything that we wanted to do in one day. So, we woke up early, enjoyed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast at the gazebos, and got in our Mustang.

Day-Time Activities: There were so many things left to do in Sedona that we didn’t know where to start. We decided to go to The Chapel of The Holy Cross, which is a Roman Catholic chapel that sits on Sedona’s red rocks. The view inside and outside of the church is breathtaking. It was truly an amazing experience. We then headed to Tlaquepaque, a small downtown shopping center with lots of unique shops and restaurants.

Lunch: We found the cutest little cafe in Tlaquepaque that you can see below, where I would 110% recommend trying the cheesecake.

We had the cutest lunch date at this cafe in downtown Sedona.

Dinner & Night-Time Activities: Dinner was AMAZING in Sedona. We asked locals where we would find the best food in Sedona and Elote Cafe was their #1 suggestion. It turned out great because this restaurant was right next to our hotel. I had the Carne Asada and mom had the Lamb Adobo, all suggested by our fabulous waiter, Carlos. For dessert we had the Pastel de Elote, which was also amazing. To top the night off, the executive chef, Jeff Smedstad, came to our table to meet and thank us for choosing his restaurant for dinner. The service and food were spectacular. I would definitely recommend Elote Cafe if you’re hungry in Sedona.

My entrée at Elote Cafe, the Lamb Adobo.

*Emily’s Tip: Be sure to make a reservation because this restaurant gets full very fast.

Lodging: We didn’t really want to drive much the day of our departure since our flight was at 1:30pm. So, we decided to drive back to Scottsdale and stay at The Scott Resort & Spa, which came out to $99.17, for the night.


Day 5: Phoenix, AZ

Sad face. This was our last day in the beautiful state of Arizona. Although we were missing our home, we had grown to love Arizona so much that we wished we could’ve stayed a bit longer.

Breakfast: For breakfast we went to Breakfast Club, which was wonderful. I had the Breakfast Grilled Cheese and a latte, while momma had the Smoked Salmon Lox Benedict with a latte. Not only was the food great, but so was the ambiance. Everything came out to about $35.

My meal at Breakfast Club, The Breakfast Grilled Cheese.

Day-Time Activities: Our day-time activities were not a lot of fun because we had to say goodbye to Lola (our convertible Mustang) and head back to Miami.

Overall, our trip could not have been better. The scenery, activities, and food were spectacular. I still find myself daydreaming about Arizona, specifically Sedona. It is a magical place where there’s always something to do, regardless of the many times that you go. The entire trip came out to about $2,000 for both momma & I. Below is a little summary of our expenses.

Flights: $776.80

Hotels: $541.56

Car Rental + Gas: $278.40

Food: $290.00, more or less

Activities: $35.00

Gifts + Souvenirs: $100

I hope you enjoyed my Arizona Travel Guide, along with my tips and tricks to make the most out of your trip. It is so important to find ways to vacation on a budget so that you’re able to do more without regretting it the next day. Sort of like eating a low calorie & gluten free piece of cake that’s delicious, but that you won’t regret the next day. I’m always looking for a new adventure and tips that will make my trips even better. I would love to hear suggestions of places to see, things to do, and foods to try, so please comment below if you have any!

Be sure to get a copy of the FREE travel outfit planner printable to stay organized & save lots of time on your next trip!

One thought on “Arizona Travel Guide On A Budget

  1. Hoping to check out Arizona one day, since I’ve never been! Great budget tips… would love to get that Mustang deal and cruise around! 🙂

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