A 26-Year-Old & Her S.O.'s $2,202.54 Trip To Phoenix & The Grand Canyon

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Welcome to Away Game, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real millennial women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 26-year-old law student explores Arizona's natural beauty with her boyfriend.
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Age: 26
Occupation: Advertising Account Executive up until this trip — now on a month long break until beginning law school this fall.
Salary: $55,000 (but now I guess $0 or negative a lot??)
Travel Companions: My fiancé, C
My Fiancé's Salary: He’s in medical school so also $0? Or negative too many dollars to disclose here. I really promise we’re fiscally responsible.
Hometown: Kansas City
Trip Location: Phoenix and Northern Arizona
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 19 days
My Fiancé's Annual # Of Vacation Days: Varies
Trip Length: 6 days
Flights: $0 (Southwest points!)
Rental Car: $279.64 for six days
Night #1: We’re getting in somewhat late and getting up at the crack of dawn to start our drive north so the first night we’re staying by the airport. Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North - graciously paid for my my dad’s Hilton points.
Nights #2 and 3: Page Lake Powell Campground, $57.08
Nights #4 and 5: The Scott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, $385.05
Pre-vacation spending:
Tent: $0 (It was gifted to us off our wedding registry before our trip!)
Hiking shorts: $11.79 (I had a $40 gap credit and bought a few other items as well)
Snacks: $15.86
Bikini Wax: $60 (includes tip)
Sleeping bag: $25 (We’re sharing one to sleep on and bringing sheets to cover up with. Sleeping pads were lent to us by C’s parents.)

Day One

10:30 a.m. — This is my first day not working and I take full advantage of sleeping in! Maybe even later than I intended… But our flight isn’t until 7:50 p.m. so we have all day to get ready and clean our apartment.
12:15 p.m. — After puttering around this morning, I hit the gym for a quick spin class before the trip.
1:30 p.m. — I stop by Whole Foods for a few more snacks. 2/$3 RX bars — I couldn’t resist! $15.87
3:30 p.m. — C picks up pizza so we can avoid buying dinner at the airport. $29
5:30 p.m. - C’s mother takes us to the airport so we don’t have to pay for six days of parking. Score!
6:45 p.m. — We grab margaritas at the airport because we’re on vacation! And the cost reminds me why I didn’t want to also eat at the airport… $30.32
8:30 p.m. — Red wine on the plane, free courtesy of our Southwest coupons!
10 p.m. — We’re finally check into the hotel. For some reason I find the tap water in Phoenix too not taste so great so I go to find water bottles. We get two free since we’re Hilton reward members! Hit the hay.
Daily Total: $75.19

Day Two

5 a.m. — Ugh, is this really vacation? Brush teeth, hotel room coffee, breakfast bar. Hit the road.
8 a.m. — We arrive in Sedona and immediately hit the trail for the Devil’s Bridge hike. It is absolutely beautiful and high on my recommendation list for this area.
9:55 a.m. — After the four mile round-trip hike, we’re starving. We head back into Sedona for breakfast tacos at Cafe Jose. They are enormous and delicious. $31.36
10:45 a.m. — Pick up water and groceries in Sedona. $21.26
11:15 a.m. — Get to Slide Rock State Park for some swimming and lounging. The water is freezing but we have a blast literally sliding on the rocks! My tip would be to arrive early to scope out a spot and get parking before the lot fills up. We pay the entry fee. $20
12:35 p.m. — As we’re leaving, we try to buy overpriced gum at the gift shop and our wallets are in the car. We’ll take that as a good sign.
1:15 p.m. — We stop at one of the scenic viewpoints on our drive and I’m almost brought to tears. We’re in the Coconino National Forest and I have never seen anything so beautiful.
2 p.m. — We make it to Flagstaff and wonder around. We end up at Dark Sky Brewery for beers. I get a four berry rye ale and C gets an IPA. $12
3 p.m. — As we’re walking back to our car we realized we never paid the meter! Miraculously there is no ticket. We head to the Lowell Observatory but decide not to pay $15 a ticket per person since we’re leaving town soon.
3:45 p.m. — Instead, we hit up happy hour at The Mayor. And we just realized this is definitely a college bar... C gets a Tecate and a quesadilla; I get chicken tenders and fries. We’re honestly both still full from breakfast though and just eat a bit. $20.20
4:45 p.m. — We grab gas ($17.92) and water bottles ($3.78) on our way out of town. Onto Page, our destination for the night! $21.70
6:30 p.m. — Ok, so... We make it to Page and to our campsite and I am just really not feeling it. It’s raining, we’ve been hiking and driving all day and the campsite is really more of an RV park and I think we’d be camping in a parking spot. After realizing we’d both like a shower and to have a place to actually spread out, we cave and book a hotel. I know, you guys! I was really looking forward to camping, but I know I am going to enjoy our daily activities way, way more knowing I have a home base where I can take care of all of my needs (and get good sleep). We book at the Courtyard Marriott Page and it’s perfect. $367.60
7 p.m. — Plus this place has a pool! We shower, lounge by the pool and read. C and I are both introverts and we truly need time each day to recharge and have alone time. Asleep by 9:30.
Daily Total: $494.12

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — Up and at 'em! I will say being two hours behind is helping with the early wake up calls. We eat breakfast bars and coffee from our stash at the hotel. I have a minor freak out that we’re in AZ time but Navajo time (2 miles east) and Utah time (7 Miles north) are different times zones and we have a tour at 8:30. Arizona, please participate in daylight savings time!
8 a.m. — We check into our Antelope Canyon tour and they get us on the tour leaving right then so we don’t have to wait at all. We reserved this ahead of time and I’d say you definitely need to because they fill up. We are seriously in awe. We pay for two tickets and tip our tour guide - he was great! $110.80
9:45 a.m. — Per our tour guides reco, we head to breakfast at the Ranch House. I get a breakfast combo and C gets pancakes. $19.64
10:45 a.m. — Quickly run back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits.
11 a.m. — We head just a bit north to Glen Canyon National Park and we pay the entrance fee. $30
11:15 a.m. — Once inside, we head to Lake Powell to rent kayaks at Wahweap Marina. It is so incredibly beautiful and a kayak is such a fun way to explore the lake. $69.88
2:15 p.m. — We get back at the hotel to relax by the pool. I grab water bottles. I know it’s wasteful, but I’m just really not feeling the tap water. $6.59
3:45 p.m. — We take a hike to Horseshoe Bend Observation Point. Y’all, it is a bit of a hike, not just a pull over on the side of the road type of thing.
4:45 p.m. — We’re home and showering. Gosh I just got way sweatier than intended. I guess it is 102 degrees outside…
5:45 p.m. — Mexican sounds good so we head to dinner at El Tapatio. Eat way too many chips, drink a huge margarita and essentially finish our plates that are twice as big as our heads. ($60)
7:30 p.m. — Lounge, read, and pack up. We have another early morning tomorrow.
Daily Total: $296.91

Day Four

5 a.m. — Jump out of bed — it’s Grand Canyon day! Coffee and breakfast bars at the hotel — you know the drill.
5:45 a.m. — We stop for gas ($14.77) and water bottles ($2.29) on our way out of town. $17.06
8 a.m. — We get to Grand Canyon National Park and pay the entrance fee. $35
8:15 a.m. — We get our first glimpse. Oh. My. Gosh. This place is seriously unreal. My mind cannot even fathom how big it is. After talking to a park ranger, we plan some hikes around the rim. We don’t have time to hike down, but know we’ll be back.
12:30 a.m. — After hiking for a few hours (and realizing C is very afraid of ledges) we stop for lunch at Bright Angel Lodge. There are actually hotels, restaurants, markets, etc on the rim of the Grand Canyon — so cool! $32.42
2:00 p.m. — We hike a bit more until we leave. It’s crazy to think of what a small part of the canyon we actually saw. Head back to Phoenix.
5:30 p.m. — We arrive at The Scott in Scottsdale and it’s beautiful!
7 p.m. — After taking much-needed showers, we head out to dinner. We head to Malee’s in Old Scottsdale. I get a crispy chicken dish and iced tea; C gets the special plus a Sapporo. It actually ends up being our favorite meal of the trip! $49.29
8:30 p.m. — It’s back to our books by the pool! It’s actually sort of pleasant outside once the sun is down.
Daily Total: $133.77

Day Five

9 a.m. — Awake later than usual and head to breakfast at Morning Squeeze. The avocado toast does not disappoint. $29
10 a.m. — This is sort of an odd vacation expenditure but we walk by the Fashion Square mall and remember it’s the first day of the Nordstrom anniversary sale. I get a pair of Zella leggings and Steve Madden booties ($103.42). C gets a pair of dri-FIT shorts and an athletic shirt ($71.03). We each pay for our purchases on separate cards. $174.45
11 a.m. — Pool time!
2:45 p.m. — We walk next door to Postinos for bruschetta, $5 pitchers and $5 glasses of wine. I get a Sauvignon Blanc then a Prosecco, C gets a pitcher of Dale's Pale Ale and we split four bruschetta. $38.39
4:45 p.m. — We’re back to the pool again (there are actually two different ones). While there, my BFF FaceTime calls me to say she got engaged! Ahhhhh!!
7 p.m. — Shower and get ready for dinner.
8 p.m. — Stop for gas because we’re on empty. $29.97
8:30 p.m. — We arrive in Kierland for our dinner reservations at the Greene House. We each have wine and split the avocado and crab dip. Then C selects the bacon wrapped pork chop and I have shrimp pasta. $83.87
Daily Total: $355.68

Day Six

9 p.m. — We pack and check out.
10 p.m. — I’ve been craving donuts this whole trip so we head to Bosa Donuts for a chocolate glaze (me), old fashioned (C), and two breakfast sandwiches. $8.70
10:45 p.m. — We stop for gas right outside the airport because we have to leave it full — we just need a gallon. $3.75
11 a.m. — We return the rental car, shuttle to the airport, check our bags and settle in before our flight.
1:15 p.m. — We’ve boarded! Two more free drinks on the plan. I’m a bit of a nervous flyer and having a drink really takes the edge off.
5:40 p.m. — And we’ve landed (two hours later because of the time zones)! As we’re walking to get our bags we see Tech N9ne! What a random end to the trip. C’s mom picks us up and we head home for unpacking, laundry and sleep.
Daily Total: $12.45
How did you prepare for this trip?
We knew we wanted to do something outdoorsy — a national park was very high on our list. We also didn’t have a ton of time (this is probably the only week we’ll be off together in a few years) so we wanted some place with direct flights and lots to do within a few hours drive. Google Maps and Pinterest were big helpers. Once we decided on Arizona, my friend gave us a few pointers from a trip she’d take a few years ago.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
We saw so many amazing places, but I think Antelope Canyon was my favorite. Other places were “grand-er” but we Antelope Canyon was beautiful and our tour guide was awesome. The pictures in there are incredible!
What was the best meal you ate while you were there?
Malee’s in Scottsdale was amazing! We both really love Thai food and that place had one of those menus where it was so hard to choose because everything sounded good. But we had no ordering remorse! Plus the portions are huge.
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
We probably should’ve gone to Horseshoe Bend earlier in the day to avoid crowds but I would have gone again for sure.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Rent a car! It was so great to be able to stop along the way. The drive really was half of what made this trip so fun.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
See day two with the camping mishap… I really wish I would have just booked a hotel in advance or at least found a better campsite. We drove past one in Glen Canyon that actually looked really great.
Would you stay at your hotel/Airbnb again?
Yes to all of them!
Where were you located and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
Where we were at The Scott in Scottsdale was perfect. We could walk to shops/restaurants and we were so close to Old Scottsdale which is a great part of town.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
I wish we had one more day so we could have stayed at the Grand Canyon overnight.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time?
I feel like we were ready to come home because of the physical aspect of the trip (we were exhausted!) but like I mentioned, one more day at the Grand Canyon would’ve been nice.
Away Game is meant to reflect individual women's experiences and does not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

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