2017 Packing Tips For Santa Fe, NM

My packing tips for Santa Fe are different in 2017 than they would have been last year. So I’m glad I waited until my next trip to write this post.

My husband and I drive to Santa Fe from Austin, Texas as part of our now annual trek to Colorado.  New Mexico is flat and uneventful until we get to the state capital, which is the oldest capital in the U.S. thanks to the Spaniards. After reading these tips, you may want to look up Santa Fe’s local history on Wikipedia because it’s truly fascinating and just may inspire you the way it inspired the late, great Georgia O’Keeffe. (If you’d like to browse her artwork and prints for sale, visit Artsy.net)

Packing Tip #1

In some ways, I’m tempted to say “Take an empty suitcase and a credit card with great mileage perks.” But that wouldn’t make for much of a packing tips post, now would it? So, let’s rephrase it and say that there are so many irresistible clothing and accessories boutiques in Santa Fe that you’ll want to leave plenty of room in your valise for your new acquisitions. There will be many (unless you have that magical gift of window shopping that doesn’t include the actual shopping part).

Packing Tip #2

Walk the plaza, hit Museum Hill, or take part in their own version of Burning Man called Fiestas de Santa Fe.  Whatever your pleasure, walking about town isn’t nearly as taxing as I expected. But there are some unpaved and uneven streets to contend with.   Stylish footwear is on point, but this isn’t a L.A.  “Comfortably chic” shoes comes to mind. I suggest:

— strappy flat sandals

— thick-soled walking shoe or ankle boot

— strappy wide heels/platforms (summer), low to mid-height heeled boots (winter)


packing tips for santa fe

Packing Tip #3

Embrace color.  You can look at this from two different angles:  pack colorful statement outfits *or* pack neutrals and buy local accessories to layer on the color and “wow” factor.  I recommend neutrals other than black for daytime– black looks so harsh against the desert scenery and it will absorb a lot of heat on summer days. There are heavy traditional Central American style influences but also modern and minimalist options available at the boutiques. Price points are high, so look for sales and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.  You never know unless you try!

Packing Tip #4

Santa Fe is not like Las Vegas, even though they’re both arid climates.  Santa Fe is ~4,900 feet *higher* in elevation, which means that you see an average temp of 86ºF in July rather than 104ºF.  Summer nights average 54ºF — a bit chilly! Yet, you’re closer to the sun at that elevation, so it feels pretty intense on your skin. Pack a hat and a large scarf or shawl to wear over your shoulders. A straw cowboy hat and linen scarf are practical choices for summer. In the winter (when nights can get down to 17ºF), you’ll appreciate a fur or fleece-lined leather coat with matching hat and gloves. Animal hides are always en vogue in the southwest. Yet, it can get warm in the winter, so bring sweaters/cardigans you’ll feel good wearing as your outer layer if need be. Whether it’s summer or winter, think “layers.”


packing tips for santa fe winter

Packing Tip #5

Sometimes we forget the little things that make a big impact on our experience.  Lip balm, sunscreen, moisturizer… Protect your skin! Sunglasses with UV400 protection for your eyes (remember, you’re close to the sun).  Altitude sickness usually happens at 9,000 ft + but if you suffer from it, ask a doctor for acetazolamide to take with you. And if you care about your environmental impact on this beautiful landscape, bring a reusable water bottle. The visitors bureau suggests you drink at least two liters per day; more if you’re consuming alcohol. Take this suggestion seriously so you can have serious fun!

thea woodThea Wood
Austin’s Signature Stylist




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