For my 35th birthday, I decided to get out of the house every weekend in March. If you haven’t met me, I spend most of my free time at home in front of the television. Lately, I’ve been getting a little bored of that and itching to do something different. I don’t think I love (budget) travel, but I’m drawn to adventure. For the first weekend of March, I visited the Grand Canyon.
Since this blog is masquerading as a personal finance blog, let’s start with what this trip cost me.
|Grand Canyon (Mar 2019)|
|Fuel related to excursion||$67.46|
Notes on Expenses
Airfare – I flew into Las Vegas and drove to the Canyon the next day. It turned out to be about $100 cheaper to fly into Las Vegas than Phoenix (where I originally wanted to go). Direct flight both ways. Win!
Hotels – Stayed the night at Circus Circus. Bought on Expedia. I contemplated just sleeping in my car. Apparently, it’s a thing people do when travelling through Las Vegas or Phoenix. Decided it wasn’t for me. Maybe when I was twenty, and young and supple. Pro-tip: Las Vegas airport has sleeping rooms you can rent by the hour. Considered that but wanted to get the car the night before vs picking it up in the morning.
Airport Parking – Paid to park my car at the airport when I left North Carolina.
Rental Car – Cost of 1 day, unlimited miles. Small crisis at the rental car company because they gave me a bigger car = more gas. I waited around long enough and got a smaller car which I regretted because the bigger car had cushier seats and I’ve been having trouble with pain with sitting. Lesson learned – I’m not as young as I used to be!
Fees – Entrance fee to the park. Pass is good for up to 7 days and can be used for multiple people.
Fuel – Fuel for about 600 miles round trip. Yes, I went luxury and pre-paid the gas. High roller over here!
How I Saved $362- I originally purchased Southwest airline tickets to fly into Phoenix because Phoenix and Las Vegas are the closest big airports to the park. I had never been to Phoenix so planned to make a day of it there as well. Those tickets were about $400/rdtrp on Southwest.
Lodging was so pricey in Phoenix. The cheapest place I was willing to stay was about $147/nt and I would be staying two nights. No AirBnB for this single girl. Negative experiences in the past with shared housing. I bought the airline tickets first when I originally hatched the idea to make March an adventure month. By the time I bought the rest of my excursions for the month, I couldn’t justify spending over $800 on a weekend trip.
So I searched again and found cheaper hotel and airfare out of Las Vegas and since I’d already visited Las Vegas there was no need to stay an extra day. Thank God Southwest has no cancellation fees. I was able to cancel my SW flight and save the credit for later. I flew a budget airline (Frontier) and stayed one night saving me almost $400. Win for the single girl!
Was it worth it?
I’m glad I went but it was kind of a hassle. It was a 9 hr rdtrip flight from Raleigh and 9 hour rdtrip drive from the airport. And I did it all with a 36 hour turnaround to save money. Was it worth seeing? Yes. Was it worth the hassle? Less so. If you find yourself in Pacific/Mountain Time, take the time and make the drive. That being said, there were international tour group buses there so obviously people have come from farther distances to see the canyon.
If I lived say 90 minutes or less, I think I would enjoy hiking the trails and make it a goal to hike all the shorter ones. I would like to see the canyon at sunset and sunrise. That would be nice. Especially when it’s not rainy, windy and cold (it was so windy one lens popped out of my glasses).
Going this early in the season did mean less foot traffic overall! The drive is easy. I think I saw maybe 12 vehicles each way. The rest were semis and the road was so uncluttered and the landscape vast and expansive. That was my favorite part. I could see myself trading in the suburbs for desert life, if only I didn’t like to waste water so much. J/k… but water conservation efforts were notable. I think I also saw stars on the drive back, but I couldn’t be sure because I haven’t seen them in so long. They might have just been bright lights in the sky, UFOs, or the reflection from my dashboard 🙂
What I would do differently
I think I would’ve preferred to fly into Phoenix as I originally planned, but Stingy Mcgee couldn’t pass up the savings. I got so caught up trying to find cost cutting measures, the transactional nature of the trip was palatable. I even forgot to download my audiobook because at one point I had enough of planning, so it was a lot of driving in silence or listening to static or random country channels. Also, this would have been better served as a leisure trip instead of quick jaunt to the park and back. Oh well, I can finally cross it off my to-do list!