How to Enjoy an Affordable Weekend Getaway in Arizona

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Arizona can be one hot tourist destination (see what I did there). Phoenix locals know, however, that it’s easy to beat the heat and travel as short as an hour to have the opportunity to enjoy a different climate. With the long President’s day weekend in February and Spring Breaks in March, I am already beginning to make my family’s plan for quick getaways to see new sights, enjoy delicious local restaurants, and visit new attractions.

Affordable Weekend Getaway in Arizona

In my experience the most expensive components of a family trip are a place to stay, meals out, and admission to must-see places. Here are my suggestions for how to balance an enjoyable trip while not breaking the bank:

Seek housing with a kitchen

Meals out are expensive … consider if the average price is $10 per adult, $6 per kid, and round up 25% for tax and tip and you’re spending about $40 per meal (at least!). If your trip is 3 days long and we use that formula 3 times a day, you’ll be spending over $350 on meals alone, not even counting those must have gas station car ride snacks!

When booking, we look at both hotels and websites such as VRBO for rentals to compare pricing. If a place is $40-50 more a night but includes a kitchen, you’re still likely going to save a good amount of money by having the ability to eat in one or two meals a day.

Do note – that while some hotels will offer kitchenettes, I always call to confirm what appliances are included because after a recent VRBO stay in Flagstaff I realized a dishwasher is on my must-have list if we’re staying more than 2 nights! I loved the little cabin we stayed in, but seriously felt like I wasn’t on vacation because I was washing dishes by hand 3 times a day. If you can’t get a place with a dishwasher at least splurge on some paper plates and plastic utensils.

Want additional tips on saving money while eating out? Click here to see a roundup of my favorites.

Affordable Weekend Getaway in Arizona

Check for Reciprocity on Memberships You Already Have

Depending on which city you choose to visit there may be public attractions like museums, zoos, or historical sites that have reciprocity agreements with similar types of attractions in the Phoenix area, and therefore, offer free or reduced cost admission to you. For example, an Arizona Science Center membership will be honored at the International Wildlife Museum in Tucson and at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Want more details? Click here for a full rundown of how my family has capitalized on these benefits.

Affordable Weekend Getaway in Arizona

Research local parks

With a 4 year old and a 9 month old I know that a visit to the Natural History Museum will likely only provide entertainment for an hour before the need to start touching all the things kicks in. So, in addition to finding local attractions to visit, I always seek out public parks ahead of time.

You can typically get a listing of public parks and their amenities by visiting the city’s website and looking under parks and recreation. Add these places to your “Saved List” in Google Maps (click here for the how-to on that). When you get to your vacation spot be sure to casually drive by the parks without telling the kids. This allows you to look for yourself and ensure it meets the needs of your family before promising an outing and then finding out that the play structure is more suitable for giants than toddlers. Spending time at the park can provide for hours of fun at my favorite price, free!

Affordable Weekend Getaway in Arizona

With Prescott, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Greer, Tucson and so much more within just a few hours of driving distance, where might you start planning a trip with these tips?

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Katie and her husband have called North Phoenix home since 2009. Katie is fully embracing boy mom life, as the mother to an energetic 3 year old who is known to introduce himself by saying “Hi, my name is Colton, I have fast shoes.” Katie is also welcoming a brand new baby boy scheduled to make his arrival mid-April 2017. In her spare time you will find Katie searching out the best deals for anything and everything or trying out new apps, software, and products that will increase her efficiency so she has more time to partake in her favorite activities: relaxing with her boys, taking power naps, and learning new skills! As someone who loves school and plans to be a lifelong learner Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies: Business & Marketing Education from Central Washington University in 2008 and then continued her studies at the University of Arizona where she obtained her Master’s in Higher Education with an emphasis in Access & Success in 2010. While working at ITT Technical Institute Katie was able to earn her MBA in 2012. She is an educational professional with almost 10 years experience in Career and Technical Education and Higher Education. She is passionate about assisting individuals in gaining success through access to education and career opportunities.

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