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How To Plan A Trip To Arizona

I’m going to put my hands up and say Arizona is my favourite US State…  This is high praise indeed given the Jetlag family has roadtripped through quite a few; California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Chicago/Wisconsin, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.  Yet there is something so magical about the beauty of the Copper State.  We had wanted to visit Arizona on numerous occasions but the timing was never right.  Even though we live in a furnace (Singapore), nothing could prepare us for the heat of our usual Summer plans.  Luckily a change of job, saw us with a few weeks to vacation in October and we knew this was our chance to visit Arizona.  I also have fond memories of roadtripping through Arizona with my parents and sister about 30 years prior.

Posing in Sedona

How did I plan my route?

As always I have my Excel spreadsheet to hand where I list out all the days of our trip. I then consume travel blogs, guidebooks and Tripadvisor until the lightbulb moment.  It took a while to figure out the route. I knew we would fly into Phoenix but wasn’t sure whether we’d head North or South. In the end we drove up North to the border of Utah and then right back down, past Phoenix to Tucson. Our route was as follows:

Scottsdale (3 nights, A) – Prescott (1 night, B) – Sedona (3 nights, C) – Grand Canyon (1 night, D) – Page (2 nights, E) – Tucson (3 nights, F)

I was very happy with the route and wouldn’t have changed anything. Although I could have quite happily stayed on in Sedona forever.  You are most welcome to drop me a message if you want my Arizona spreadsheet!

Getting to Arizona From Singapore

Bit of a long journey although at least we didn’t have a bust plane engine, encountered on the previous roadtrip.  We flew from Hong Kong to Singapore with Cathay Pacific and had a night’s stopover to visit friends. Then we flew from Hong Kong to Los Angeles with Cathay Pacific and spent the night at the Courtyard Marriott LAX. The following morning we flew American Airlines to Phoenix (90 mins).

Where did we stay?

For the most part, I chose airbnbs.  I just can’t reconcile choosing one hotel room, for the same price as a 2 bed apartment.  We stayed in a beautiful historic hotel in Prescott for one night and also decent motel at the Grand Canyon.  I booked all our accommodation in advance. With a 12 day roadtrip, there is little wiggle room for spontaneity!  In addition, certain parts of Arizona are busy with tourists all year round. If you want your choice of hotels, particularly at places like the Grand Canyon, you need to book at least 9 months in advance (I was booking ours 6 weeks in advance but it wasn’t during any holiday period).

What did I book in advance?

I’m a nerd. I map out the majority of our activities for each day in advance. I check opening times (I’ve been caught out before) and driving distances.  In addition to the accommodation, I booked a couple of trips; Ken’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tour and the Pink Jeep Tour Sedona (one of the highlights of our trip).

photo of Pink Jeep

Getting Around

We hired a car from Avis at Phoenix Airport, for the entirety of our trip. We had signed up a few months earlier to Avis Preferred so got to skip the main queues.  It’s free to sign up so there’s really no downside.  We paid extra for the Sat Nav.

Tips For An Arizona Roadtrip

  • When do you want to travel to Arizona? Be mindful of the soaring summer temperatures in the southern cities.
  • Temperatures fluctuate wildly.  On one day we drove from snowfall in Flagstaff to bright sunshine in Phoenix. Pack layers!
  • Don’t forget sunglasses and hats for all the family.
  • Pack suitable walking shoes (unlike the photo below where we all wore our inappropriate sandals for what turned out to be a 3 hour hike!). There are many amazing National Parks and trails in this State.  You might not want to pack your fanciest white trainers as they will get covered in red dust.
  • Try to avoid popular spots like the Grand Canyon at the weekend.
  • Stock your boot with water.  Keep hydrated and take plenty of water out on the hikes with you.
  • Be aware of wildlife – yes there are snakes etc, although I didn’t see any on this trip roaming free. Don’t fall into a cactus.
  • Enjoy the food and drink! We had plenty of memorable meals including one of the best burgers I’ve ever had at Rehab Burger Therapy in Scottsdale.

6 Comments
  • Lauren

    Reply

    Great tips! AZ is such a gorgeous state. Knowing my clumsiness, I’d probably fall into a cactus though!! 🙂

  • Leona

    Reply

    I’m desperate to visit Arizona – these are such good tips for anyone planning a road trip there #fearlessfamtrav

  • Nicky @Go Live Young

    Reply

    I’m a nerd too – like to be planned and organised! This is an area we’d like to road trip with our boys, maybe in an American camper van! #fearlessfamtrav

  • Jenny - TraveLynn Family

    Reply

    Your just like me with planning a route – all about the Excel spreadsheet 🙌 This is an area I’ve never explored, but would absolutely love to. Your photos remind me of Australia’s outback. #fearlessfamtrav

  • Sally from Little Hiccups

    Reply

    We’ve only been to the Grand Canyon so far, but I would love to visit Tuscon, Pheonix, Saguaro National Park and Havasu Falls. Definitely not in the Summer though! The first time we visited the Grand Canyon was in October and we were able to visit both the North and South Rims which was a great way to see just how much difference a change in altitude makes!

  • Sally from Little Hiccups

    Reply

    We’ve only been to the Grand Canyon so far, but I would love to visit Tuscon, Pheonix, Saguaro National Park and Havasu Falls. Definitely not in the Summer though! The first time we visited the Grand Canyon was in October and we were able to visit both the North and South Rims which was a great way to see just how much difference a change in altitude makes! #fearlessfamtrav

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