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New Mexico

Trip details:

Hi Rochelle!

You planned a trip for my husband and I to go to Montana this past January. Well, we returned and it was AMAZING! When I returned my mom said she wanted me to organize her 60th Birthday! I knew you would be my go to planner:) She said she would like to go to New Mexico. Here are the kickers. She lives in Austin, Texas. My husband and I live in Pensacola, Florida, and my older brother lives in Upstate, New York. We are trying to find the most adventurous spots, price ranges, and still have rest days in addition to the right month to plan! My brother is not fully on board, so I am considering taking her to New Mexico as just a girls trip Labor day weekend. E

Right now, we are looking at the week before 2018 Christmas for the whole famiy to go for about 4-5 days....or, just Labor day weekend (Friday-Tuesday) just me and my mom.

If we are looking to travel as a family to either destination there will be 3 different families (my husband and myself, my mother, father and younger brother, and my older brother, his wife, and their son) I'm not even going to task you with looking at cheap flights for everyone, because it's just too much of a headache and I know for a fact not everyone is willing to buy flights yet. Each family is looking at spending no more than $1,000.

None of us have any dietary restritions but we are very open to trying authentic New Mexico specialities! 

Some of us may be driving up from Austin, so would only be looking at one additional rental car. Last time, you organized all of the things we wanted to do within reasonable driving distance, and that was much appreciated! 

I have found a few of her favorite things below and thought these may be a good starting point. I have put a * next to her biggest intersts. The rest are just a plus! 

*Cumbres and Toltec Railroad 

*The Rio Grand and Gorge Bridge

*Hot Springs 

White Sands National Monument- sand sledding

*Hot air balloon rides

chili festivals

El Malpais National Monument in Valley of Fires (walk across lava flows)

*Carlsbad Caverns 


Lastly, she is very interseted in staying in unique Airbnb's. 

Thanks, Rochelle! Excited to see what you come up with :)

... Show more

Day 1 - Friday, August 31:

  • Arrive at Santa Fe Airport

  • Drive 1 hour to check into an Airbnb near Acequia Vineyard and Winery

  • Visit the winery (open between noon and 5 p.m.)

  • Dinner

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Day 2 - Saturday, September 1:

  • Early Checkout from Airbnb

  • Drive 15 minutes to World Balloon for a sunrise hot air balloon ride. ($135 per person/offer discounts for military, first responders, and law enforcement.)

    • Shortly after the sun rises over the Sandia Mountains, you will lift off for a peaceful journey down the Rio Grande Valley lasting approximately one hour Balloon flights last 45 - 60+ minutes depending on the days weather..

      After your flight, when your feet find their way back to earth, the World Balloon crew will be there to greet you and help you celebrate your voyage with the traditional champagne (or sparkling cider) toast, light continental breakfast, commemorative flight certificate suitable for framing, and memories to last a lifetime.

  • After the balloon ride take a 2 hour drive to your new airbnb near Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs.

  • After Check-in, enjoy the rest of the day with relaxing at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs $32/$38 (all day pass/sunset to 10 p.m. pass)


  • Dinner

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Day 3 - Sunday, September 2:

  • Start your day at early at 6 a.m.

  • Drive 30 minutes to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

    • Parking is free

    • Spend 1 hour here

  • Continue your drive for 1 hour and 30 minutes to the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad Tour

    • Book Here ($99.75 per person = tax)

    • Trip #6 10:00am –  Chama to Antonito by train / return to Chama by motorcoach – 6:00pm

      Enjoy an authentic western breakfast in Chama, New Mexico and then board the train at 10:00am. Gather in the open car to enjoy a complete narration by one of our docents. The Fireman of the engine will be working hard to shovel coal into the firebox to produce the steam that carries the train to the top of Cumbres Pass. Wear your hat and sunglasses as you see the powerful engine produce steam and smoke as it carries you to the top of the mountain. A delicious lunch is served at Osier, and then you’ll proceed into deep canyons, amazing rock formations and beautiful prairie en route to the old western town of Antonito, Colorado. A luxury motorcoach will then whisk you back to the starting point in Chama.

    • Dinner

    • Take a 2 hour drive back to your Airbnb

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Day 4 - Monday, September 3:

  • Check out of your Airbnb and enjoy breakfast

  • By 7:00 a.m., beging your 5 and a half hour journey towards Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Arrive in time for lunch and visit the caverns

    • General Admission $12 per person. Other guided tours at the park can be found here

  • After dinner check into your new and final Airbnb 

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Day 5 - Tuesday, September 4:

  • Breakfast

  • Take a 2 hour drive to the El Paso International Airport where you will depart back to your home

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Change of plans By shannon Carter
Replies (+)

shannon Carter wrote:  

Hey Rochelle!


I spoke with the family more today and have oficially decided to do the trip just my mom and I over Labor day weekend. We are looking at August 31st- September 3rd or maybe 4th. My dad is helping cover my moms half, but for my half, I am hoping to not be spending more than $900. With that, I was hoping you could help me locate a flight and or other means of transporation: bus, train, driving, but maybe ground transporation only being one way, as that will take up the majority of our trip. 

Thanks for being patient with me! 

Also, my mom enjoys wine, so maybe a winery one day!

Looking forwad to hearing from you!

Rochelle Brown wrote:  

Hi Shannon! Yes I remember you.  Sorry for just getting back to you. I will get started right away. I will send you a draft for you and your mother's trip by Monday evening, then we can go from there. 

Good hearing from you again. Talk to you soon!

shannon Carter wrote:  

Hi Rochelle,

did you get a chance to work on things yesterday?


Rochelle Brown wrote:  

Hi Shannon,

I apologize for the delay. It was challenging fitting everything into the days you plan to visit New Mexico because of all of the driving this trip will require. All of the places are pretty far apart. I did manage to fit everything that you indicated as a must do. Unfortunately, due to the timing you have, hours of operation of most places, and the driving involved, it would be very difficult to add in any of the other places on your list. Please review the itinerary tab and tell me what you think of this initial travel plan. Once we have the itinerary set in stone then I will go back to add maps and airbnbs close to the sites you are visiting, as well as rates for a car rental.

Also, I was unable to find any information on the 2018 Chili Festival. The location of the festival seems close to one of the sites you are visiting. I will do some more research to see if I can find out if there is a 2018 festival. All I found so far with google was info about the 2017 event.

Lastly, I researched a few flights and they are averaging close to $200 each way from Pensacola, but don't worry, I will keep looking and let you know what I find! I will also check flights for you rmom from Austin. Since you only have a few days I don't recommend driving to New Mexico.

Talk to you soon!