As you can imagine, my preferred stay for a night includes a tent and sleeping bag while looking up at the stars. On my road trips and travels I always try to look for an awesome spot to camp because it is easy and it is where I feel most comfortable, but sometimes a hotel is required. Whether that is because I am tired from driving and don’t want to set up a tent at midnight, in the dark, in a place I know nothing about or because the weather is so bad I wouldn’t be able to hold onto the rain fly except to use it as a kite. Over the years I have stayed in plenty of hotels and it always becomes a balancing act. I always waiver because I don’t want to pay top dollar, but I also don’t want to worry about bed bugs and having to bring in my own sheets. Ideally, I know what city and what day I will be staying and that way I can find a cute little, local place to stay for a good price, but that often times that isn’t the way I travel. Nothing is worse than paying too much for a room you barely use. With all these issues, I have come up with my own way of getting the best room for the best price and so far in my travels it has never steered me wrong. *fingers crossed*
NOTE: I am not paid by, or know anyone, that works for the company I am about to mention below, so don’t stop reading after step 1. I am sure there are other great websites out there and I have used a lot of them, but for last minute options this has worked the best for me.
NOTE 2: This works best if you have a helpful navigator/co-pilot with you on your travels.
1. Go to hotwire.com. (I told you not to stop reading!) – I have had good luck with hotels.com too and would just recommend you try out a few and see which websites/apps work best for your needs. Normally when I am on the road I don’t have a lot of time to search a bunch of websites.
2. Type in the location, date and number of rooms needed. – This is usually done a couple hours ahead of time if I am on the road and have an idea of which city I want to make it to before needing to get some sleep. If you have another person in the car with you, feel free to continue driving. If not, PLEASE PULL OVER and find a rest stop or parking lot.
3. Use the Hot Deals tab because you can get the best rates on hotels with that option.
4. 85% recommended or higher – We never look at any hotel that is recommended by less than 85% of people who have stayed there. Yes, we know our theory may be flawed and only 1 person may have stayed and had an issue with their attitude and not the hotel, but again our method hasn’t failed us yet. *knock on wood*
5. Larger Cities – Bigger cities may have several areas you can choose from and I recommend looking at all of them. Again, this can give you the best rate and let you see parts of a city you might not otherwise get to see.
6. Don’t worry about the Star Rating – I don’t look at the Star ratings for the hotels personally. I may use it as a tie breaker, but you may be in an area that doesn’t have fancy hotels or you could also miss out on a gem of a stay if you pass over a 2-Star, 100% recommend stay.
7. Remember to Double Check Your Date - I know from experience. Double check all of your info prior to booking. There are no refunds on the Hot Deals on Hotwire so be careful. On a recent trip, we booked a last minute hotel because I wasn’t sure if we were going to stick it out in the airport or need a room. We got an amazing deal and when we pulled up to the hotel it was another great location and great hotel, our method worked AGAIN! However, when I went to check in I found out I booked for the wrong date and the hotel was completely booked for the night…lesson learned.
ANECDOTE: About a month ago on a road trip from Michigan to Florida, we knew we wanted to stop around Atlanta on night 1, but had no idea if we would make it that far or even further. My wife often likes to stop at road side attractions and tourist traps so I never really know where we might end up. (i.e. WallDrug) When we were about an hour away from needing to stop my navigator/wife, pulled up Atlanta. We were hoping to make it to the southern suburbs of Atlanta, but as luck would have it we ended up finding a great hotel in a Northern Suburb we had never heard of. For an amazing rate of $89 for the night that was normally $269, we got a room that mightily surpassed expectations. Amazing accommodations and even a Zen Garden and mini-spa we took advantage of the next morning.
Feel free to try my method and let me know if it worked for you. hotwire.com