Travel tips for the Southwest

It occurred to me today that if I’m going to write about traveling and, for right now, I’m focusing on the Southwest, I should offer some travel tips for anyone not from this area.

1. When traveling through west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, etc., start looking for a gas station as soon as your gas gauge says you have a half a tank remaining.  This might sound silly, but gas stations can be incredibly few and far between and if you put off filling up, you could end up stranded on the side of the highway in the dark.  So not good.

2. Just about any restaurant in New Mexico will offer to put green chilis on anything: burgers, pizza, breakfast burritos, etc.  They’re incredibly tasty, but also very spicy and often cost extra.

3. In many places in the Southwest, especially small towns, everyone assumes everyone speaks at least a little Spanish.  Don’t be surprised, therefore, to be adressed as Señor or Señora or to hear the customary, if not a tad redundant, greeting of “Bienvenidos and Welcome”.

4. There are dozens and dozens of ghost towns.  If you’re trying to visit a particular one and are asking for directions, be very specific.

5. Photography on Indian Reservations is a tricky subject.  Depending on the individual tribe, some permit photography and some don’t.  Some allow photos to be taken in certain places, but none of the tribes allow photography during religious ceremonies.  When unsure, it’s best to ask first.

6. If you’re going to be spending time outdoors you should bring sunblock.  Even on cold and/or cloudy days in spring, the altitude in places like Las Cruces or Albuquerque is higher than most people are normally acustomed to and it’s incredibly easy to get a sunburn.

7. Pack water in the car and on your person.  Not only is it a long way between gas stations on the highway or Interstate, but at many of the outdoor attractions (National Parks, Monuments, hiking trails, etc.) there may be a water fountain if you’re lucky, but definately no vending machines, so coming prepared is a must.

8. New Mexico currently doesn’t have a sales tax on food, so depending on where you’re traveling from, it may be cheaper to stock up on food for the road once you’re already in the state.

9. Be prepared for Border Patrol stops.  I once got stopped 4 times in 2 days.  Most times they just ask you if you’re a U.S. citizen, although some agents will be more inquisitive.  As long as you aren’t a smark alec and answer all their questions, it should be quick and painless.

10. If you’re from a different state, check to see if you’re bank has a branch or ATM where you’re traveling.  Not everyone out here takes debit or credit cards and a lot of ATMs are members-only, so it’s best to come prepared.

I’m sure I’ll continue to think of more tips and hints, but I guess this will suffice for now.  Let me know if you have a specific travel question and have fun on the road 😀

2 thoughts on “Travel tips for the Southwest

    1. I keep telling mom that one of these days they’re gonna catch me in a bad mood and I’m going to answer all their questions in Spanish. I got stopped at 6am the other day and it was sorely tempting!

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