I am in Phoenix for a few days and wanted to explore Scottsdale today. I decided to have a theme (sort of like Rachael Rays $40 a day show on the Travel Channel). I like themes and spending half the amount seemed more fun and challenging. I wanted to see how much I could do on $20 or less. I am always very frugal, whether traveling or just grocery shopping at home. One of my goals with this website is to show YOU how easy it is to travel with little to no money. Most people list $$$ as the number one reason they don't travel more often. The second reason is TIME. I love to do local day trips that just take a few hours and provide the same amount of joy and memories as a full week vacation. For me, the memory is not about the money spent, its about the MOMENTS spent. Some of my favorite moments are from spontaneous day outings where NO money was spent (other than the gas to get there).
When I am researching a new destination, I always look for the free attractions first. If I only have a day in a city, I am going to take in as many free sights as possible before spending $$ at an indoor museum. I start with the public transportation system and if it is good, I will ride it most of the day. I map out my day by walking distance from bus, metro or trolley stops. Scottsdale, AZ has an incredible public transportation system. Since I have my car, I was able to drive to the main Library and park for free all day in a covered garage (there are numerous free parking garages throughout this city). They have a FREE trolley that stops every 15 minutes and runs every day from 11 am to 6 pm (till 9 pm on Art Walk Thursdays). I did a little exploring in the Civic Center area and then hopped on and off the trolley for the day. I spent $5 on my breakfast scramble with toast at a local coffee shop (they offered me a FREE pumpkin spice latte in lieu of a paid vanilla latte, which I of course accepted). For lunch, I stopped in the Fashion Mall and got a Japanese Chicken Teriyaki plate with a drink for $7.75. In the afternoon, I had a small gelato for $5. I spent ZERO on transportation, ZERO on sightseeing (and took in 2 free museums) and have a salad waiting for me at home for dinner. I picked it up on my way into town yesterday so it was already paid for. I certainly could have spent more money today if I wanted to. There are a zillion restaurants I could have dined at that all looked fantastic. I don't feel that I missed out on any of my Scottsdale experience though by not spending a bunch of money on dining out and shopping. I took about 300 pictures and had a great day walking, riding and talking with the trolley driver. Actually, I listened. He has been driving the trolley since they started about 16 years ago. He gave lots of great tourist tidbits as we drove along. I actually got the equivalent of a paid sightseeing tour, for FREE. Plus, I was able to pace myself and get on and off whenever I wanted and not be confined to a Tour schedule.
So, because I promised you SHORT and SWEET today, I am going to wrap this one up. I will do another post on some of the highlights of my day with LOTS of pictures. You will just have to come back and read that one in a week or so. I wanted to get you thinking outside of the box and see that travel does not have to equal $$$. What you spend on travel should be TIME. It doesn't have to be a lot either. I spent 7 hours exploring the city today at a leisurely pace. I could have seen everything I did in half that time. I just had all day and wanted to take my time. It was a LOVEly day indeed, and, I spent LESS than $20!