New Mexico Road Trip Part 5: Sanddunes & airbnb

After our fun at the Carlsbad caverns, it was time to head back to Albuquerque.  However, there was one more amazing feat of nature that I wanted to show the family, the White Sands National Monument, a unique dune field covering 275 square miles of desert.  It would have been too much to do Carlsbad, White Sands and the drive to Albuquerque in one day.  So I decided to break the journey up with an overnight just north of Las Cruces.

Getting to White Sands from Carlsbad

We spent a morning exploring the Big Room at Carlsbad and then hit the road for a 3.5 hour drive to the dunes.  Instead of a healthy lunch, we devoured ice cream and pie at the Old Apple Barn in Cloudcroft.  I highly recommend a slither of their pecan pie (don’t worry you’ll burn it off on the sand dunes).

Pie Shop - shrink

White Sands National Monument

According to my 5-year-old, sledding on the White Sands dunes was one of her favourite bits of our New Mexico trip.

Make sure you check road closures prior to your journey as the dunes are next to the White Sands Missile Range.

White Sands Visitor Center - Shrink

When you arrive, head to the Visitor Center to purchase your sled (used ones are slightly cheaper).  You can return the sled after your visit and get some money back.  Make sure to get some wax too!  It can be hot out there so pack plenty of water in your car and make sure the family are wearing sunglasses.  We just drove out and picked some dunes to try our luck.  Apparently the further back you drive in the park, the steeper the dunes.


Our Accommodation – An Airbnb Gem

Has airbnb changed the way you travel?  It certainly has opened up my eyes to a wealth of accommodation opportunities.  I had originally booked a night in a motel in Las Cruces.  Then I decided to flick through airbnb to see what was available and chanced upon this 2 bed bunkhouse on a horse farm.  Not only was I suckered in by that but it was CHEAPER THAN MY MOTEL ROOM!

Booking through airbnb is easy.  As with other travel websites, many rooms/houses have ratings so you can see reviews from other travellers.  You complete your reservation request and payment details for the host.  If the host accepts your booking, then you are charged.  Airbnb will then hold that payment until 24 hours after check-in, just to make sure everything was satisfactory on both sides.  

You can engage in discussions with the host e.g. how you get to the property, how you get into the property, are there any kids amenities etc.  For our airbnb property in Taos, there was a lockbox outside the door and the host sent us the code to get in.  With the bunkhouse, the family home was next door so they simply let us in and showed us around.

What made our airbnb property stand out vs. the motel room were the following:

  • Location was a beautiful horse farm set within the beautiful New Mexico countryside
  • We got much more value for money in terms of space. The bunkhouse had two separate bedrooms, a lounge area, outdoor seating and two bathrooms.
  • Our host had kindly filled the fridge with goodies and said we were welcome to use any of the food in the kitchen. She also let us delicious homemade candy pecans that I still dream about.
  • If your host is nearby/onsite it can be a way for you to get to know more about the local area and get some great recommendations on restaurants, where to go etc.
  • If you’re travelling with kids, have a search on airbnb for properties with kids amenities.  Our bunkhouse had a travel cot and some kids toys, books.  Even better, our host’s 7 year old daughter was so excited to have two new playmates that she whisked our girls off on a tour of the horse farm, barnyard animals and her playroom.  Free babysitting!

Of course airbnb is not for everyone.  Sometimes it’s nice to have the convenience and luxury of a hotel.  I think it’s a great way to mix up your roadtrip and I will definitely use airbnb again on our travels.

Dona Ana - Horse Farm - Shrink

On the porch of our bunkhouse!


For more on our New Mexico Roadtrip…

Part 1 – Santa Fe

Santa Fe Luxury At the Four Seasons

Part 2 – Taos

Part 3 – Ruidoso

Part 4 – Roswell & Carlsbad

1 comment

  1. MummyTravels

    I’m a big AirBNB convert since having my daughter – some great places out there, all kitted up for kids and much more practical for younger ones. And cheaper is always great too.

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