Are you spending your Saturday daydreaming of your next trip? Yeah? Me too! If you follow me on Instagram (HERE), you may have seen that I recently traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for a weekend. And want to know a secret? It cost me next to nothing!
It all started when a local photographer, Julie Haider, and I were chatting about how fun it would be to get away to work / play / adventure / giggle (a lot). Before we knew it, we were looking for flights + hotels + rental cars.
Naturally, when planning a trip, things can add up quickly ... but they don't have to! Here's how I flew out, stayed for 3 nights, had a comfortable + reliable rental car, and ate what I wanted -- for UNDER $200 TOTAL!
- First things first. The flights. We went back and forth about weather we should drive or fly... but in the end we decided we wanted to make the best use of our time - so we decided flying was the way to go. And, with Southwest Credit Card points - my flight was FREE! Well, they have some sort of Federal Security Fee of about $5 per flight - so my total for my flight came to about $11.50.
- Next, a place to sleep. Part of our plan for the trip was to exchange some head-shots for our business - so we knew that we wanted a place that was bright, fun, well decorated, and easy to access. We found a few Airbnb's that we thought would fit the bill, and put our networking + trade offers to work. We sent over emails with the offer of trading photography of the Airbnb, or of a session of them + their significant other, in trade for letting us stay in their space. And guess what? We got rejected. Multiple times. Lots of times. But we kept going, we kept asking. And looking back - I'm so thankful those certain Airbnb's said no, because it led us to Casita de Flora and allowed us to get to know the house owner, Kim. And for that, I am so thankful! We got to have coffee on the patio with her, hear about her goals and dreams, laugh at life, and I just fell in love with her and her sweet demeanor that day, but that's a whole other story.
- A note. Initially we were only supposed to stay two nights, so our trade originally asked for that. But when our flights got cancelled shortly before we were leaving for the airport we asked Kim if she would let us stay another night, and she so graciously said yes! She totally saved the day!
- Next, the rental car. We went back and forth about this one too. I am an Uber LOVER - but, when we decided we'd be driving all over Phoenix to photograph the cutest couple (see the shoot HERE), we decided a rental car would be best. After searching around, we found our best option was actually going through Costco! I honestly didn't even know they offered rental cars, but - they do! And it worked great!
- Only thing here is that Budget actually ended up charging us a fee for needed the car for an additional day (because of the flight delay). So, we had to pay for the additional day PLUS the fee. But, that's just how life goes sometimes.
- And then - FOOD. (My favorite!). We did a mixture of things to find food while we were there. Here's how that went:
- Going to places that were recommended by people we met while there. And, no shame in our game - we had no problems making it clear that we weren't trying to fine-dine ... we just needed yummy food in our belly. And, the cooler the place, the better. I think the people we met just got us, because we loved every restaurant we went to! :)
- Googling what was in our area at the time, and looking at the info that Google provides. I love that while in Google Maps, it will show you what's around, and use the dollar symbol scale ($, $$, $$$, $$$$) so that you know what you're getting into, before you're in the restaurant and feel like you've come to far!
- Going cheap + easy. One of our meals was TacoBell. And hey - it gets the job done!
So there it is my friends. The four steps that helped me keep a 3-night getaway on budget, while having lots of fun along the way. I hope this helps you brainstorm ways to save on your next trip, and to know sometimes you just have to think a bit outside the box. :)
Cheers to you, fellow travel bug!