This week we’re looking at lodging choices.
This can be a tough one because when you are gone for a week or more this category of expenses can really add up quick. You don’t want to stay in a flea-bag, and I have, and if you are like me, you can’t justify the cost of the Ritz Carlton either. So just how much do you have to pay to get a decent room? And you have to decide what type of lodging you like. Do you want a hotel, a cabin, or a bed & breakfast (B&B)?
Hotels allow anonymity and you may find some comfort in knowing what to expect if you always stay in the same hotel chain. If you choose a B&B there will be some socializing with other guests and with the manager or owners. Also some B&Bs will have certain room where you share a bathroom with other rooms (and some have their own bathrooms). You’ll have more privacy if you decide to stay in a cabin or house.
Because we are usually only away for a week and we feel that our time is so precious (we wish we could be gone longer) we don’t often choose a B&B. Many of these start serving breakfast at 8am and because photography is our hobby we may want to be out 2 hours before that to be prepared for first light. When you eat at 8am you may not leave until 8:30 or 9:00 and for a morning person that feels SO late. We did try one we liked in Maine and the first morning we stayed for breakfast. We really enjoyed socializing with the other guests and the breakfast was great. So we recommend trying one if you are so inclined.
I, in particular love the character of a rustic cabin or a lodge. Unfortunately many times I find that they want us to stay more than one night and on a couple of our recent vacations that has not been in our plan. Also, they can be a little pricey. When we go somewhere new we like to cover a lot of territory learning the most we can and hoping to return to our favorite parts for a longer period of time.
So in general, when I can, I book a cabin or lodge and the rest of the time I book a hotel/motel. This trip, I have booked hotels for every night. We will be in Cherokee, NC for 3 nights so that was an opportunity for a cabin but my budget won out because we got a discount on an already good price for staying 3 nights at a hotel. It’s the practical thing to do because we don’t spend enough time in the room to really take advantage of the amenities.
I like to look at reviews by other travelers, such as on TravelAdvisor (and many others), in choosing lodging. Sometimes you find a local, non-chain hotel that people think is really special. After you read enough of these reviews you can kind of get a feel for which ones seem more valid and which ones sound less serious (because some other issue made them angry and now they are on a rant). You can at least get a general vibe about what the issues are. If many people think the place was clean but “outdated” this may be your chance to get in on a bargain if you can overlook that relatively small issue. Also travel forums can be very helpful because you can ask the advice of people who have been there.
You should already have a price in mind that you are willing to pay so that emotion doesn’t take over when you see the fabulous pictures of some great resort. Then you can choose your price point amongst the accommodations that had the reviews you were the happiest with.
Once I’ve chosen a hotel I like, I try to book it through the website of my airline of choice so that I can get frequent flyer points for staying there. I also have memberships at some of the hotel chains and key those in so I can also get credit at the hotel.
By this time I am compiling an itinerary so we can refer to it and keep track of confirmation numbers, etc.
I start a document that looks something like this:
(Date) Thursday, Get into Charlotte 5pm flight confirmation #1234, Pick up car at xyz rental confirm# 789, stay tonight at the Best Western confirmation #3456. Fill in suggestions for sights to see later.
(Date) Friday, stay tonight at La Quinta confirmation #758. Fill in suggestions for sights to see later.
Next week I’ll be looking at choosing sights to see and things to do each day.
Thanks for visiting.
Wishing you blessings,