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Although New Mexico itself has relatively affordable hotel prices, even in Albuquerque, tourist-driven Santa Fe (and to a slightly lesser extent Taos) can be fairly pricey, especially during high season, from spring through fall, with rates particularly dear during major Santa Fe festivals (such as the Indian and Spanish markets). Generally, you'll pay the most at hotels within walking distance of the Plaza and in some of the scenic and mountainous areas north and east of the city; B&Bs usually cost a bit less. The least expensive Santa Fe accommodations are south and west of town, particularly along drab and traffic-clogged Cerrillos Road, on the south side of town. Rates in Albuquerque, just an hour away, can be half as expensive (sometimes even less), exception during busy festivals, particularly the Balloon Fiesta in early October.

Check to make sure there's not a major event planned for the time you're headed to the area, and book well ahead if so.

If you book through an online travel agent (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), discounter, or wholesaler, confirm your reservation with the hotel before leaving home—just to be sure everything was processed correctly.

Be sure you understand the hotel's cancellation policy. Some places allow you to cancel without any kind of penalty—even if you prepaid to secure a discounted rate—if you cancel at least 24 hours in advance. Others require you to cancel a week in advance or penalize you the cost of one night. Small inns and B&Bs are most likely to require you to cancel far in advance. Most hotels allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents' room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; find out the cutoff age for discounts.

Apartment and House Rentals

Santa Fe (and Taos as well) is popular for short- and long-term vacation rentals.

Bed and Breakfasts

B&Bs in these parts run the gamut from rooms in locals' homes to grandly restored adobe or Victorian homes. Rates in Santa Fe and Taos can be high, but there are several properties that offer excellent value for very comparable prices; they're a little lower in Albuquerque and rival those of chain motels in the outlying areas.

Reservations

Bed & Breakfast.com (512/322–2710 or 800/462–2632. www.bedandbreakfast.com.)

Bed & Breakfast Inns Online (800/215–7365. www.bbonline.com.)

BnB Finder.com (888/469–6663. www.bnbfinder.com.)

New Mexico Bed and Breakfast Association (800/661–6649. www.nmbba.org.)

Home Exchanges

With a direct home exchange you stay in someone else's home while they stay in yours. Some outfits also deal with vacation homes, so you're not actually staying in someone's full-time residence, just their vacant weekend place.

Exchange Clubs

Home Exchange.com. Home Exchange.com; $9.95 per month for a membership. 800/877–8723. www.homeexchange.com.

HomeLink International. HomeLink International; $89 yearly for Web access and listing in the catalog. 800/638–3841. www.homelink.org.

Intervac U.S. Intervac U.S; $99 for membership (includes Web access and a catalog). 800/756–4663. www.intervac-homeexchange.com.

Hostels

Hostels offer bare-bones lodging at low, low prices—often in shared dorm rooms with shared baths—to people of all ages, though the primary market is young travelers, especially students. Most hostels serve breakfast; dinner and/or shared cooking facilities may also be available. In some hostels you aren't allowed to be in your room during the day, and there may be a curfew at night. Nevertheless, hostels provide a sense of community, with public rooms where travelers often gather to share stories. Many hostels are affiliated with Hostelling International (HI), an umbrella group of hostel associations with some 4,500 member properties in more than 70 countries. Other hostels are completely independent and may be nothing more than a really cheap hotel.

Membership in any HI association, open to travelers of all ages, allows you to stay in HI-affiliated hostels at member rates. One-year membership is about $28 for adults; hostels charge about $10 to $30 per night. Members have priority if the hostel is full; they're also eligible for discounts around the world, even on rail and bus travel in some countries.

Albuquerque, Cedar Crest (on the Turquoise Trail, near Albuquerque), Santa Fe, and Taos each have hostels.

Information

Hostelling International—USA (240/495–1240. www.hiusa.org.)