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Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Comox, Canada
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Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Looking for advice from the locals. We have our flights booked. Arrive June 29 for 3 weeks. For some of the time we are staying with relatives but for other nights we are on our own. We are a family of four (2 Adults, 12 yo, 14 yo). Years ago (before kids), we never booked ahead. We also didn't travel in the summer. I am wondering if you think if it is too chancey to wait until we get there (so our itinerary can be open) or should we be conservative and book from home before we leave.

Appreciate any of your suggestions.

Comox, Canada
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1. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Forgot to add that some of the places we are planning to go to include: Bath, Bishop's Stortford, Lancaster, Haworth, Edinburgh, Loch Ness and others (but not in that order).

Thanks for your help.

Bingley, United...
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2. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

July is Scottish school holidays so Scotland is likely to be a bit busy

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Hiya, Comox (waving from Vancr's West End toward the Island).

If you're going to be away in July, it's really sensible to book some of your nights - definitely the first and last nights. Years ago I travelled on spec, but now I book in advance, partly for the security aspect* and partly so I can plan my budget.

*I've spent a few nights sleeping in railway stations, and I'll tell you - it didn't add much to the pleasure of the holiday.

If you're planning on rail travel, do book your tickets in advance, as walk up fares can be scarily high. If you're going by train, have you considered a Family Railcard? Have a look at www.nationalrail.co.uk for more info on Railcards, as they can save on tickets.

It's really up to you, but if you have a skeleton itinerary, do start to look at lodging in those locations. For what it's worth, I'll be in England and Scotland in June, and I booked a place for London in November, and have emailed a couple of B&Bs in Scotland, with a view to booking in the next couple of weeks.

UK
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4. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Will you have a car? If not, then booking ahead is close to essential, because you dont have the flexibility to travel around and find places or follow that 'B&B' sign that points down a little country lane.

I think the joys of 'winging it' are seriously overstated, you'll often be getting the least desirable places, and no chance to discard bad choices through advance planning. And since you will be often booking two rooms, not one (few B&Bs will have rooms that hold 4), that will also limit availability.You are really getting into the UK holiday season, so many places will definitely be booked already. When I travelled through Scotland in the first week of June, the large majority of B&Bs had 'no vacancy' signs up, you are going to be a month later, when the Scottish schools are on holiday , and also for the last week of your holiday, the rest of the UK as well.

You'll also likely pay top dollar if booking on the day or only a day or two in advance in peak holiday season.

WIth a car, you will also hit some of the worst congestion on the roads towards the end of your time, so you are advised to plan your return journey to your airport carefully, staying at an airport hotel overnight is advisable and getting to the airport early as well, third weekend of July is probably one of the busiest 2 or 3 weekends at UK airports.

At the least, what I'd advise is for you to plan a rough itinerary and then for those places, either get the telephone numbers for the local tourist office, or get a list of a large number of B&Bs and hotels phone numbers because its much more difficult to do when you are there, especially if there isnt a tourist office.

Also, for some places, local accommodation is very limited so booking in advance is wise at any time of year. Loch Ness would be a good example.

Bingley, United...
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5. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

"Edinburgh, Loch Ness" - in the England forum. Oh dear.

Comox, Canada
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6. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Get a life alanrow. I know that Edinburgh & Loch Ness are in Scotland. I just included it on the list that way.

For everyone else, thanks for your suggestions. I have a feeling we'll be booking ahead.

somewhere out there
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7. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

I would definately book ahead; I did the 'wing it' thing once and regretted it as I wasted too much time looking for accommodation and taht was only for two people in many cases there was no 'room at the inn' or B&B or hotels!

BTW, I am sure Nessie doesn't mind you posting in the England forum--she doesn't have a stick up her ****!

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Indeed, anemone, Nessie does not (have a stick....) - but she was last seen skiing with Ogopogo at Forbidden Plateau, on Vancouver Island - !!

Comoxbox, are you flying to LHR with BA or AC, or to LGW or MAN with Zoom or Transat? Will you stay in London for the first couple of days or head elsewhere?

I ask because if you're flying into LHR and staying in London, you may want to consider a Premier Travel Inn. They're decent hotels that offer family rooms, and might be a good choice for your first couple of nights. The PTI County Hall is one of the favourites on this forum, and the PTI Kensington is almost as good - loses marks to some as it's not quite as central (but I liked it). Worth a look.

Comox, Canada
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9. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Thanks for more info to anenome and travellerplus.

We are flying w/Air Transat into Manchester. For the first four nights we'll be staying w/close relatives. We then plan on going to Birmingham and Bath. We may be staying w/a relative in Birmingham (3 nights), but not sure yet. Bath we are booking for sure (2 nights). So far I've found a Travelodge in Beckington that meets our requirements (we are renting a car and I want parking on site). After that we are heading to Bishop's Stortford (4 nights). We'll be staying there because of relatives and we take daytrips into London from there as it's only a 45 minutes (or so) train ride. After that, our plans aren't clear. We are hoping to get to West Yorkshire and then time permitting Edinburgh, Loch Ness, down thru Lancaster and back to Manchester for leaving on July 20. Luckily for us, we have done this all before (altho it's been 16 years!). We are showing everything to the kids this time.

I've been looking into B & Bs, travelodge, premier travel inns, days inn and holiday inn express. We are not fussy. We figure we won't be spending lots of times in the hotel rooms anyways. We just need some beds to sleep in, so we don't even need a lot of space. Like I said before, we will be booking ahead. We tend to be conservative travellers anyways (usually book package holidays), so booking ahead will give us some peace of mind.

Thanks for all of the advice traveller (as I wave back from the Island)!

Kamloops, BC...
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10. Re: Accomodations - Book Ahead or Wing It?

Write this address down - www.ratestogo.com - they specialize in last minute hotel bookings. I am seldom able to plan very far ahead for travel, so I have used these folks services numerous times in various cities on three continents. I can vouch for their reliability, and they've almost always had some place for me to stay at a good rate.

Having said that - I think it depends where you'll be travelling. In London there is almost always room somewhere, but not necessarily at an affordable rate - there is the Sterling factor to consider - but if you're going to be a little off the major tourist routes, you have to remember that you all constitute a mob, and you may find it difficult to find enough room(s) for all of you. I think I would be inclined to look for something affordable for the areas/times where housing might be tight, at the very least, since family rooms are not that numerous in any location.

Good luck.