We got back from a long weekend visit to Arizona on Tuesday morning, and it’s completely thrown my week off because of it after I returned to work on Wednesday. Hopefully I’m actually posting this on a Friday because I haven’t known what day it was all week long. Even so, I do like splitting weeks for travel (we left Thursday night late and then came back early Tuesday morning) because it makes for a smoother transition away from and back to work since I’m not out of the office an entire week on either end. The number of days gone are the same, but somehow splitting the difference makes it feel like I don’t have quite as much to catch up on.
I have family in Arizona, so the very first time I visited the state was when I was only a few weeks old, but we haven’t been back to the state since our son was born, and it was my husband’s first time to that part of the state. He’d been to Yuma for training back when he was in the Marines and then we took a road trip down to camp in northern Arizona and then visit Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, but the Phoenix area was a new experience for him.
Since the trip was to visit family, my mother and grandmother headed down as well, and it always makes for a more “vacation” kind of travel for my husband and myself when we have a number of our son’s favorite people along with us. Because of that, we actually had a very low key, relaxing trip, and we’re already talking about heading back. We played in the rental home’s pool, did a bit of hiking around the area, made some easy meals, drank some tasty local beers, and read a lot. It was lovely.
Hanging out enjoying the view by the pool
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Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Like most vacations, we rented an Airbnb, which is almost always the most cost effective option for the six people we had on this trip. It also meant that we had a pool all to ourselves and could get in it at any time of the day, which was especially appreciated when the temperatures soared to just shy of one hundred degrees for all but one day we were there. If we had been at a hotel with a pool, we would have been barred from swimming outside of their designated hours, and since it was so hot, we got in the pool a number of times before a communal pool would open for the day.
We ate out a couple of times, but almost all of the meals we ate on that trip were cooked at the rental house. Not only was it a lot less expensive than eating out with each meal, it went along well with the low key nature of the whole trip, because we could just hang around the house while the meal was cooking.
If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay (affiliate link).
We also headed out to visit my family’s old neighbors, who now live an hour away from where we stayed for the trip. They cooked for us and showed us around their newly built home, and my grandmother got to spend some time catching up with her friend. Phones are great, but they aren’t the same as being in the same room as someone.
2. And then of course, I reached out to the personal finance bloggers in the area when I knew our travel plans, and Done By Forty graciously offered to host us at his house. My mom and grandmother offered to hang with the kiddo that day (okay – he demanded to stay and play with Nana and Grammy), so my husband and I headed out just the two of us.
Since the kiddo was obviously having such a good time, we ended up staying quite a bit longer than I initially expected, eating homemade pizza, drinking local beer, playing Cards Against Humanity and Coup, and generally hanging out and having a good time. I absolutely love the personal finance community and the fact that we can drop in to a state and have a group of friends ready to hang with.
Of course, I saw Done By Forty and his wife since it was their house, but The 76k Project, I Pick Up Pennies, and Money Smart Latina all descended for the day as well, and it was so good to meet all of them in person. The only downside is that once you’ve gotten to meet friends face to face, it’s a bit of a downer to realize it will be a good while before you’ll get to see them again.
3. I have at least three or four pairs of sunglasses, but I wasn’t able to find any of them for a few weeks leading up to the trip. Surprisingly enough, I do actually wear them year round up here in Washington because my eyes are pretty light sensitive and I start squinting outside even on overcast days. I was determined not to buy another pair though, and luckily a pair showed up just before we were getting ready to leave. They aren’t one of my pairs of sunglasses, but I have no idea whose they belonged to once upon a time, so I took them with me on the trip.
I couldn’t find my son’s sunglasses either, so we ended up bringing a pair of my husband’s for him instead. A bit big, but they worked, and he preferred to wear a hat some of the time anyway. While his clothing isn’t part of my clothes buying ban, it’s definitely made me more aware of any new clothing we bring into our home, so I was determined not to buy a pair for either of us if I could help it.
Since I avoided the temptation of a new pair of sunglasses – even a cheap dollar store pair – I’ve ticked off another month on my shopping ban, bringing it up to twenty six months as of the first. I really don’t expect I’ll be able to last to a full three years, but I’m starting to realize it might be possible, or at least a full two and a half years. At this point, it’s clearly become about the waste and intentionality factor above all else, as a dollar pair of sunglasses isn’t going to impact my budget in any way.
4. We took the bus and then light rail both ways to and from the airport, though our neighbor did drive us down to the bus on the way there so that we could cut out a transfer. While we will sometimes use Lyft when public transportation doesn’t make sense (either due to the late hour or the direction that doesn’t work well with the transit options we have here), we do try and use transit whenever possible.
The ride to the airport cost us a total of six dollars for the three of us to get to the airport and then twelve dollars home, since we stopped for lunch before taking the last bus to our house, versus $120 or more on Lyft. While there are times we’ve taken a Lyft home from the airport, if we have the time, taking transit saves a ton of money. Of course, it does take twice as long to get home, so there are times it doesn’t work out.
With that savings, we decided to stop for lunch at a brewery near our house and have a leisurely lunch, stretching out the vacation a bit longer. While we did spend some money eating out, the choice to do so but while taking public transportation had us come out significantly ahead of taking a Lyft and eating at home. Not everyone will make the same choices we do, but for us, we’d almost always prefer a good meal over a faster, simpler transport home.
If you’ve never used Lyft before though and you see where you might in the future, here’s $5 off your first ride – don’t be like me and download the app and then look for a coupon code – it will be too late and you won’t get the discount! I also order the Lyft through Ebates for an additional small discount. If Ebates is new to you as well, use this link to get $10 toward your first rebate check (referral links to help me “keep the lights on” this blog, if you will).
5. We stayed at my aunt’s house the first night we arrived and then had breakfast there the next morning before we all headed out to the rental house at the foot of Superstition Mountain. Since she didn’t have any kid friendly drinking glasses at her house, our son ended up drinking out of a small travel mug that morning. I mentioned to my aunt that I’d been meaning to get him one for our mornings out when he gets a hot chocolate at a coffee shop instead of using a disposable cup and was paying attention to see how he liked the one she had for him.
He ended up liking the mug so much that my aunt let him take it home with him, which made him so excited. The morning we were back to our regular routine after the trip, my mother and I took him out for a coffee shop breakfast to make the morning a bit more special and ease him back into normal life, but we’d forgotten the mug in the car. He was adamant that he wanted to use the cup though, so I went back out to the car so he could have his hot chocolate in his new travel mug.
We both so appreciate the gift from my aunt, and now the kiddo has a zero waste option as well for when we go out for hot chocolate and doughnuts before preschool every once and a while. I do a good job with my waste most of the time, but I have a ways to go when it comes to the rest of the household. It’s the perfect size for him and the lid sits tightly, so it is such an upgrade from the disposable paper cup option. Thanks again, aunt. Miss you already.
Ps – another vegetarian day on the books Thursday. I think I may actually be making this a semi-regular thing.
We went for a short hike on Saturday at Lost Dutchmen State Park at the base of Superstition Mountain. While we went out in the morning, it was already getting quite hot so we didn’t end up going for very long. Sunday was another hot day, but I ended up doing a good forty five minutes of slow swimming back and forth in the pool. Since I don’t swim a lot, I got out of the pool a bit wobbly, but I was surprisingly not sore the next day.
Monday I got out of the house early in the day and went for a run and ended up finding some nice trails right near the house that hadn’t been noticeable from a moving vehicle, and then my mother and I went for a walk in the afternoon since it wasn’t nearly as hot as the rest of the trip. Tuesday was all the walking associated with traveling home, which meant I got about forty five minutes of walking that registered as active time on my Fitbit.
Wednesday I got in another short run at home and then a walk later in the day. Minimalism and Money started a 100 Hour Outdoor Challenge for the month of May, so I’m going to try and spend even more time outside than I do in a typical month. I know I spend a lot of time outside, especially when we have nicer weather, but even I don’t spend that much time outside in a given month – unless we go camping.
Anyone want to join us in the outdoor challenge this month? It’s a simple concept: spend 100 hours outside in the month of May, or just over an average of three hours a day. The average American spends 90% of their time indoors, so we’ll be working on changing that this month.