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Road trip hotel ?

california
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Road trip hotel ?

Hello,

I am planning my first road trip to Yellowstone and from San Francisco. This is my first road trip to cover Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial . I just wonder how every one plan for your trip and how to book the hotel along the way. I have GPS and map as my guide, but unsure where I should stop for break and should I book hotel a head of time . Please share your road trip experience. Thank you

Wednesbury, UK
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1. Re: Road trip hotel ?

Hi and welcome to the forum.

A couple of really important questions so we can help you best. How long do you have for this trip, when is it, and I guess its around trip out of SF?

Ohio
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2. Re: Road trip hotel ?

yep-- good questions!

I start with where I want to go-- put them all on a map. Decide how much time I have and plug in the number of days for each spot. Decide what I wish to see along the route between the main stops. I reserve lodging in each place I am stopping at ahead of time. En route from Ohio to let's say Denver or OKC... I do not reserve lodging. Just drive till tired and find a place along the route.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Road trip hotel ?

If you are coming in the off season you easily will find places to stay without a reservation.

Marina, California
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4. Re: Road trip hotel ?

The "what's your planning method" is a really good question, and I'm sure it varies greatly between people. Personally, I write out all the places I plan to see in a day, working out both the drive times, time I'll spend at each place, and how much time I'll need for meals or, if I have to work, for stopping to get online. From there, I typically choose a hotel, but try to choose it in an area where I can actually do something in the evening, as opposed to interstate roadside motels that tend to have nothing around them. Although the latter will sometimes be the best options. As far as specific hotels, I mainly look at cost, but also location, unique-ness of the property, points program, past experience with the chain and - of course - reviews on TripAdvisor.

For Yellowstone, you're going to need to book lodging very early to get the good properties, especially if you want to stay in the park. There seems to always be something available, but, as the dates near, availability tends to be at the least desirable places. Same goes with Rapid City and the Mount Rushmore area. No one goes there in the winter, so they only have so many hotels and the good ones fill up in the summer, when there actually are a lot of people there.

The map is a good way to start. I still use a paper Rand McNally atlas in planning because it just gives more of a perspective than a map the size of a computer screen can. The paper maps also show points of interest that will not come up on online maps.

Good luck!

Houston, TX
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5. Re: Road trip hotel ?

In addition to the paper map, use a site like google maps or www.travelmath.com or the Rand McNally website to plot your route. Travelmath, for example, will give you both the distance between points and the travel time for that journey. Be aware that the time given is for driving at the speed limit with no stops at all, and does not take into account any possible delays for traffic, weather, construction, etc. Make a realistic plan for how far you can drive in a day, based on the number of drivers you have.

I like to book ahead of time--I don't want to take up any of my trip time going into hotels at the end of the day to try to find a room. Lots of times there are local things going on that impact lodging availability that a traveler won't know about. I don't mean big events, but things like the move in weekend at a college or something of that nature. (Just FYI I am in a hotel as I type this. This is a hotel in a place that doesn't have conventions etc. As we were checking in yesterday, a man came in seeking a room; desk clerk told him hotel is full for the next three nights. Same story he was told at the other two nearby hotels. No apparent reason that we can see, but he was out of luck.)

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Road trip hotel ?

We did a 5 week 8000 mile road trip last October and other than first 3 nights didn't prebook anything. Only time we couldn't find a room was on a Saturday afternoon near Baton Rouge due to LSU v Alabama football match and had to continue on to Layfette about one hour away.

We stayed in lot of places that I never initially planed on as I only really knew of major cities and in the end found it easier and cheaper to do so.

Lewes, United...
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7. Re: Road trip hotel ?

Hi

I think out of season can be often completely low risk to not pre book hotels, and can give you the flexibility to stop early on press on each day, depending on road conditions, mood, etc. We often don't book every night of our trips. However, it depends on where you are. If you are near a really popular national park, and Yellowstone very much fits this category, then pre booking to get lodging ideally inside the park, or alternatively in the few and relatively small communities just outside the gates such as West Yellowstone is worth it, nay essential.

If you go down the not booking route, then stop at the TICs just inside state boundaries as they have good free paper maps and sometimes books of coupons for hotel discounts.

SWT

Chula Vista...
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8. Re: Road trip hotel ?

Hi,

One thing that I use is a smartphone app from several of the major hotel chains (Choice Hotels, International Hotels Group (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express) with my rewards program for each. The app will determine your location and find hotels within a radius of where you are. You can make a reservation directly through the app.

So when I'm on one of my "make-it-up-as-I-go" trips, around noon to 2 PM, I'll try to figure out how much further I want to drive, open up the app, and look for a hotel near where I think I'll end the day. If there's a room available, I'll check ratings on my TA app to make sure it isn't a dive and, if it's acceptable, I'll book the room. Then I can spend the rest of the day at a more leisurely pace knowing that I have someplace to sleep whenever I'm done playing.

The only caveat to that method is that sometimes you're booking the hotel within the hotel's cancellation period and you can't cancel without penalty.

Enjoy your trip.

Zed

Lewes, United...
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9. Re: Road trip hotel ?

Zed - You've given me another reason why we could really use a 'proper' US cellphone, rather than the burner phones we normally use that time out! Using our UK phones is far too expensive to roam.

SWT

Amsterdam, The...
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10. Re: Road trip hotel ?

Hello uop!

Interesting question and reading the replies makes me realize again that every body has a different way of traveling. I have done many many road trips, through Europe, North America (US and Canada) South East Asia and Africa.

I have learned a couple of things along the way. Probably most important thing I have learned is to leave my urge of 'control' at home. The more I planned my hotels, the more I ended up stressing along the way to make sure I was there in time, wondering if I had made the right deal, hoping the hotel would turn out the way I thought it would and I noticed that I often would set myself up for disappointment.

On top of that, I noticed that almost always, the hotels I would end up staying in were not sold out at all. And when I started working in a hotel in Amsterdam, I learned that most hotel s have 'spare' rooms, for in case the hotel made a mistake and got overbooked.

What I usually do is this: I keep in mind what my route would roughly be. (get a good map). Then I head out and make sure I look out for a place to stay from 3 pm on. The later it gets, the less chance you find something but since that will almost never happen, the later it gets the more pressure you put on your mind so things get stressy the later it gets with no place to stay.

Experience in this will teach you a lot. Just my two cents I guess.. Good luck!