Hotel Strategy For Our Road Trip- Don’t Book More Than A Day In Advance!

Road Trip
image: Hyatt

Over Winter Break 2019 the Michael W Travels family went on a Deep South Road Trip.

Along the way (we live in Brooklyn, NY) we made stops in states like Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina.

Kim and I wanted to keep this trip as flexible as possible. We didn’t want to be tied down to a set plan of where to overnight. We wanted to be able to stay and enjoy a place longer or return to a missed place on the way back if weather wasn’t on our side. To make this happen, we decided to try to not book any hotel more than one day in advance. (We did do one 3-night hotel stay. That stay was booked the day prior to arrival.)

Initially, we thought that this idea might backfire due to it being the holidays. Luckily, we never had an issue finding a place to stay that was within our budget.

We wanted to go with a very low budget of around $70 per night since we’d more than likely be arriving late and leaving early. We were able to make this happen using a combination of cash and points.

Here is where we stayed during our trip:

  1. Econo Lodge- Frederick, MD: $58 (by far the worst hotel of our trip)
  2. Travelodge- Wytheville, VA: 7,500 Wyndham points
  3. Best Western Plus Arbour Inn & Suites- East Ridge, TN: $71.17 (earned $10 promo)
  4. Hyatt Place Inverness- Birmingham, AL: 3 nights $220.32
  5. Country Inn- Pigeon Forge, TN: 28,000 Radisson points
  6. Smoky Mountain Inn- Waynesville, NC- $14.86 (used $100 gift card I won through Twitter and also applied the $10 promo earned from prior Best Western stay)
  7. Country Inn Asheville West- Asheville, NC: 38,000 Radisson points
  8. Holiday Inn Roanoke-Tangelwood- Roanoke, VA: 15,000 IHG points

Total budget: $364.35 + 88,500 points +$100 in gift cards won on Twitter +$10 promo code

Overall, we spent 10 nights in hotels during our road trip. With the aid of various hotel points and the gift card won through Twitter, we kept our out of pocket lodging expenses down to an average of $36.43 per night!

No we didn’t stay in luxurious places but all of the places we stayed were totally fine besides our first night!

Final Thoughts:

It was nice to be flexible during this trip and make decisions as we went. Our almost 8 year-old son Lucas was always curious as to where we’d be staying. Kim and I reminded him not to worry since we had our car! No, it never came to that and we all had an awesome time.

On future road trips, I’d definitely like to stick to the plan of booking no more than one night in advance, unless of course we’re doing a multi-night stay at the same property.

Do you have any strategies to make road trips a success when it comes to planning and booking your hotels?

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8 thoughts on “Hotel Strategy For Our Road Trip- Don’t Book More Than A Day In Advance!

  1. I’m a big fan of booking several hotel options that I’m able to cancel. That way, I can use my planned stay or cancel (1-2 days in advance) my reservation and book-on-a whim…

  2. Heck if you are in a car. Worst case scenario. Sleep in the car. I’m currently on a trip from Timor Leste to Bang Aceh at the top of Indonosia on a bike. On trip like this. I book around an hour before arriving. Just way to many variables involved to book the day before. With the weather. Getting tired. Detoruing to see something off my route. And given this kind of trip. It’s not like the whole town will be booked like Vegas on Valentine’s day. But yes I never book more then hours before. I flew here PVG-HKG-DPS. As I was walking down the boarding gate to the plane at HKG. I confirmed my Bali booking. Then at that point. I’m mostly sure the plane is going to leave.

  3. Terrible advice that goes along with how every blogger feels about themselves. “I am the only matters, no one is hurt by my actions”

    Jerks booking hotels purposely to cancel what they wont use then publically telling eevryone else to do the same. This is pure A-hole.

  4. Dustin Evans- We said that to our older son, more as a joke though! How is your bike trip going?

    Ryan- I’m not sure why there needs to be name calling. I think HLC gave a good suggestion. If you don’t like the idea, don’t do it. I can’t say that I’ve booked hotels to cancel but it isn’t a bad idea if you’re unsure of your trip’s exact plans. IMO, get off your high horse.

  5. I do 3 to 4 road trips per annum in the USA and I have the same strategy. There are so many reasonably priced hotels and motels in the USA you can adopt this strategy, easily. The only exception for me is when IHG launch Points Breaks, I tend to book in advance to take advantage of the lower points.

    I also have some good codes for Hilton, IHG and Best Western and at a pinch, If I am desperate, I’ll go with a Choice Hotel.

    But do not use this strategy in Europe. Crazy over there. the place is overcrowded and the hotels are ridiculously expensive for a lot of the places that are essentially dumps.

  6. robbo- I haven’t found a good Points Breaks redemption in way too long! I’d love to hear more about your codes! lol In the past, there were good corporate codes for various brands, not sure that they work anymore…

    As for Europe, I wouldn’t do this exact idea but we have left hostels early without penalty when we wanted to change things up.

    Last summer we were in South Asia. We booked quite a bit of our hotels just a couple of days in advance. We did do research though to make sure that this would work.

  7. Try stopping in smaller towns visit places around them especially in the state of Alabama. Birmingham being the most criminal based city in the state. Huntsville and the state capital of Montgomery in south Alabama very much more interesting.

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