It was relatively easy deciding on the "where to go" and which major cities to see. We had limited time that my gang could be away since my kids are not home schooled like Cosette and Dominick, so a week was the maximum amount of time I could realistically take them out of school. As we were building this trip around the timing of Balloon Fiesta, it just so happened to work out that the weekend following the start of Balloon Fiesta is Columbus Day weekend, so that gave my side an extra day with which to play!!
In Part 2 we had finalized our accommodations - 3 nights Albuquerque in a hotel, 2 nights each in Taos and Santa Fe, both in a private houses. I was initially planning to talk about the activities we are going to be doing throughout the trip and the sites we want to visit in this segment, but I really thought I would talk more about our accommodations. Tanya and I spent a great deal of time working on this aspect of the trip and I wanted to share more of what went into our decision with you. The biggest question was "Hotel" or "Private House" for all three cities. We both became a little obsessive with this step (which is not hard for either of us on any given subject). In fact, right before my trip to Prague and during, we were still going back and forth with each other, sending links and information about possible options. What we did decide immediately, was to just book a few "Pay Later" hotels in both Albuquerque and Taos. We figured, if we don't have luck finding a private residence to stay in, at least we would not be "homeless." And if settled on a private home, we could always cancel the hotel reservation with no penalty. Albuquerque was tough because of Balloon Fiesta. Hotel rates were relatively high and owners had not yet posted their rates for October. I guess knowing the demand for this time of year in Albuquerque, they want to get as much as they can for their properties. We decided to just commit to the Pay Later hotel, which by the way, we got a great deal on through Booking.com and the hotel has great amenities! On the downside, we are slightly more than 5 miles from town, but on the upside, the property has a pool, a gym and a business center, making the kids and the adults happy. Additionally, the rooms have mini kitchenettes, which is always a plus on a road trip! We also decided this past week to book an extra night in our hotel in Albuquerque at the back end of the trip, for night before I take off back to NY with my girls and Tanya heads on with the road trip south to Carlsbad Caverns. For Taos and Santa Fe, after days and days of searching VRBO, we found two spacious two-bedroom homes! Each of these has a living room pull-out couch option, which we thought would be great for the girls to bunk up together! We couldn't have asked for better locations either - both near the center of each respective town! We figured it would also make life easier on the meal front. We didn't have to feel the pressure of eating out all the time and with some of the dietary restrictions , the full kitchen would give us more flexibility and clearly save us some money. And even more important, we know that the kids are going to absolutely love staying together under one roof the majority of the trip!! On average, we are paying about $100 per night for our accommodations, which we were both very pleased about.
Now, I still have to get my airline tickets. When we started planning, I found a great fare of $242 round trip. I really don't know what I was thinking. I was being picky because the flight times were not ideal. So, I thought - "Oh, I'll just wait." Yeah, well, almost two months later, the rates have doubled and do not seem to be coming down for October. Yikes! So, I am currently on several alerts - one with Trip Advisor and the other with Travelocity for when the rates drop. This time, I'm not going to be so cavalier. Thank goodness I got my rental car early - $150 for the entire stay!
More planning this week - Tanya and I are going to start plotting out our driving route. We especially like using Roadtrippers.com. If you plug in your trip, it gives you all kinds of helpful information for your drive including places of interest to see, restaurants, various driving options and more.
So, we are well on our way! More in Part 4. Stay tuned!!