If your road trips are anything like ours, you’ll have an idea of where you’re going and the route you think you’ll take and then promptly take a detour no sooner than you’re a few miles down the road. That’s part of the joy and flexibility a road trip gives you but it also presents you with a challenge when booking accommodation.
If you book all your accommodation before you leave, you effectively have a fixed itinerary which can only be changed at a cost, usually in the form of a hefty cancellation fee. Don’t book anything at all until you’re on the road and you may not find any vacancies and you’ll be sleeping in your car for the night. Follow these simple hotel booking hacks for your road trip to help keep your budget under control without losing that all important flexibility.
Hotel Booking Hacks for your Road Trip
Book accommodation with a flexible cancellation policy – if you really don’t want to leave all your accommodation bookings until you’re on the road, you may want to book before you leave. This can still be a flexible option if you check on the cancellation policy. Many hotels will allow free cancellation up to 4pm on the date of arrival. Keep a close eye on this to avoid missing any cancellation deadlines which will cost you some, if not all of the first night’s tariff.
If possible, avoid the high season in popular locations to avoid disappointment – the high season brings in the travelling hoards so finding accommodation at the last minute can be a challenge. If you can avoid the height of the season altogether, all the better. If not, think about pre-booking a few places that you really don’t want to miss. Alternatively, consider accommodation that is just a little further away from the major tourist attractions. There’s more chance they’ll have vacancies and you’ll probably save a few pennies too.
Don’t assume the online booking price is the best price – when you book a hotel online, especially when it’s almost last minute, try calling the hotel before you confirm to see if they can give you a better price (or a room upgrade). It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Try homestays or guesthouses – there are loads of websites now like VRBO and AirBnB where you can check availability at short notice. But keep an eye out on the roadside. You will probably pass many private houses that offer rooms for the night that will have a small sign outside. These will probably turn out to be your favourite overnight stops!
Bring some basic camping equipment, even if you don’t plan on camping – if you’re caught out with nowhere to spend the night, this will be a lifesaver. Finding a campsite, a wild camping spot, or even just a farmer’s field maybe far easier than finding a hotel room and if you have a small tent and sleeping bag, you’re good to go. They don’t even take up very much room in the car.
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Photo credit: Thomas Hawk
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