As for any destination in the United States, check before departure whether you’ll need a visa to enter; most European and Latin American nationals do not need one, however.
New Mexico uses the United States dollar, and currency exchange is available at most banks as well as in better hotels, though the rates in the latter case will not be as good. For the best rates and convenience, withdraw cash from your home account through automatic teller machines (ATMs), in bank lobbies and, increasingly, in shops and restaurants; check first, though, what fee your home bank will charge you for the transaction. Otherwise, travelers’ checks are widely accepted—American Express and Visa are well known, Thomas Cook less so. It’s best if you can buy them in U.S. dollar amounts, rather than British pounds, to avoid an additional transaction while traveling.
Tipping etiquette is similar to elsewhere in the country: 15–20 percent on restaurant bills (though often restaurants will add 15 percent or so to the bill for groups of six or more); $1 or so per drink when ordered at the bar; 15 percent to cab drivers; $1 or $2 to staff who handle your luggage in hotels; and $1 or $2 per day to housekeeping in hotels—envelopes are often left in rooms for this purpose, though if you don’t see one, don’t assume a tip won’t be appreciated. Bargaining is usually accepted only if you’re dealing directly with an artisan, and sometimes not even then—it doesn’t hurt to ask, but don’t press the issue if the seller won’t budge. Electricity is 120 volts, with a two-prong, flat-head plug, the same as Canada and Mexico.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition