My Anxiety-Free Trip to Arizona
I’ve always been an adventurer at heart, even when I was struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. But when I was struggling, I was far from the adventurer that I wanted to be! I was afraid to be too far from home or from a “safe” place. I was constantly afraid that I’d experience anxiety or panic in every place and situation and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And I allowed fear to control my every move. But, not anymore! And not ever again!
Since recovering, I’ve taken many trips, including an international trip to England with Amelia when she was just 8-months-old. And let me tell you, this trip to Arizona was much easier (and much more enjoyable) now that she is 3-years-old! When people tell you that it doesn’t really get easier as your child gets older, don’t believe them! It does get easier in many different ways.
Adam, my amazing and very thoughtful husband and planner, planned this trip with his mom. It was a family trip that included Adam’s parents and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. We drove from Maine to Boston, where we got on a plane and flew to Phoenix. Once we arrived in Phoenix, we drove 2 hours North to Sedona which is where we spent the majority of our trip. The Airbnb that we rented had such an amazing view from the front of the house!
Sedona is a small city with a big tourist population, and for good reason! Sedona is gorgeous! Adam and I used to live in Utah, so I’ve seen red rocks before, but not quite like the ones in Sedona! The red rocks cover much of the landscape and make for some really great hikes. We spent the majority of our time in nature, hiking and exploring everything that the area has to offer. And it turns out that late October is a great time to go because it wasn’t too hot and overall it wasn’t too crowded.
Here are some of the adventures and hikes we did, all of which I highly recommend!
Out of Africa Wildlife Park - This one was definitely for Amelia! But you know what, it ended up being really cool. It’s a wildlife park that has lions, tigers, and bears (okay, I had to). It also has so many other really cool animals like a rhino, a wolf, zebras, snakes, and hyenas! We even went on a “safari ride,” where Amelia got to feed a giraffe. Yup, amazing! Stay tuned until the end of this blog post and I’ll tell you a little bit more about this adventure and why I wouldn’t have done it years ago.
Grasshopper Point - There are a few scenic trails here but we primarily went to do some cliff jumping and swimming. We learned from a local that the water here is (really) cold all-year-round, but that didn’t stop us, after all, we’re from Maine where the water is freezing cold even in the summer. After spending 5 or so minutes on the edge of the cliff with Amelia saying “Mama, you can do it!”, I finally worked up the courage to jump off of the cliff into the water. If you’d like to see it, head here to my "Adventures" highlight reel on Insta to watch it! Grasshopper Point is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a swimming adventure.
Cathedral Rock via Baldwin Trail - This 3.7 mile hike was a stunning one that features a creek and some beautiful trees that even had foliage in late October. We did this hike without Amelia. Although the beginning of the hike is easy, the hike up Cathedral Rock is difficult and not really suited for small children. This hike offered some of the best views in Sedona and was definitely worth the scramble to the top!
Bell Rock - There are a couple of trail options on Bell Rock. We did the straightest shot up the rock which is only 0.8 miles. We actually did this hike a couple of times with Amelia. Even though she wasn’t able to go all the way to the top, she made it quite a way up the rock, and the views were absolutely beautiful. I, of course, had to go to the top and get a few pictures. This hike was quick but had gorgeous views. And there are lots of places to just sit and soak in the views.
Birthing Cave - Who doesn’t want to see a cool cave? This was a fairly easy 2 mile hike that had some really great views. And Amelia was begging us to take her to see a cave so we took her along, however she did end up spending the majority of the hike on Adam’s shoulders. Overall, it was worth it, and I think it’s doable with a small child (keeping in mind that you may be carrying them for some of the way).
Soldier Pass Trail - This was another awesome hike that led to a pretty cool cave, more cave-like than the Birthing Cave. It was a 4.5 mile loop that I’d say is moderate. We didn’t take Amelia on this one due to the length of the hike. The only part that is a little tricky is when you actually get to the cave. It’s a fairly steep climb but definitely doable. The views throughout the entire hike are great, and even includes a sinkhole and 7 sacred pools.
Chapel of the Holy Cross - I’m not a religious person but this is one of those must sees in Sedona. The views from the chapel are spectacular, and the chapel itself is pretty amazing. There is a short trail for the chapel but we chose to just drive to it, as there is parking right on the premises.
The Grand Canyon - Yes, we even made it to the Grand Canyon! We decided to just make it a day trip rather than an overnight trip since we were already staying in an Airbnb in Sedona. It was a little over a 2 hour car ride. We went to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and spent a few hours just walking around and taking in the views.
When we left, we drove East so that we could stop at a couple of the scenic overlooks on our way out. We took Amelia with us on this adventure, and a day trip was just enough with a 3-year-old in tow. We had such an amazing time and the views truly can’t be captured in a photo!
Overall, I loved Sedona! Sedona is such a great place for adventuring and also just relaxing. And downtime Sedona and its neighboring areas have some cute shops, restaurants, and plenty of places to grab some ice cream! To save money, we typically grocery shop and cook as much food as we can at the Airbnb, which is what we did on this trip, so unfortunately I don’t have any great food tips! Sorry!
After spending a week in Sedona, we ventured off to Tempe which is just a couple hours south of Sedona. The weather was at least 10 degrees warmer in Tempe, and so we spent the majority of our time relaxing by the pool, which was much needed after all of our hiking and exploring in Sedona!
So from a girl who used to experience anxiety and panic every day of her life, especially while driving in cars and being away from home, did I actually have an anxiety-free trip? I sure did!
And that safari ride that I told you about a couple of minutes ago, well, that was something that I NEVER would have done years ago. Picture a bus full of people, riding into an area full of animals, with a gate closed behind you (essentially the only way out is the way you came in, via bus, surrounded by animals that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be on foot next to). Talk about feeling trapped and out of control! I would have thought… What if I panic? What if I pass out? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if something bad happens?
But on the safari, I thought nothing besides, this is so amazing! I felt so much joy and peace. And for a moment, I reflected on what I had been through to get where I was and how far I had come. And I expressed so much gratitude for being able to experience so much joy and peace within myself and also with my family.
I share my adventures and experiences with you to prove to you that recovery is possible. I know that it often feels like your life will never look any differently than it does right now, but it can - keep pushing forward! Just because you can’t see that it’s possible doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. I know that it’s hard and I know that it’s so frustrating, overwhelming, and tiring, but the small steps are leading you to amazing things.
Back when I was struggling, did I ever think that this is what my life would look like today? That this anxiety-free trip to Arizona was possible? Heck no! But I kept taking healthy action because I wanted what was on the other side of fear… And I got it!
I hope you’re inspired by my trip to Arizona. I hope that you buy that plane ticket. I hope that you plan that adventure. I hope that you face that fear. I hope that you are beginning to believe that recovery is possible for you too. Because the reality is, I’m not more special than you. You are capable and deserving of recovery, too.
Keep taking the small steps forward, they are leading to amazing things!
And if you'd like my help in pushing past your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears, check out my free training where I teach you 3 actionable steps that you can start taking today to push past the things that are holding you back from living the life you want and deserve to live!