Tips / Tricks for making reservations on the road

Discussion in 'Americas' started by PineyMountainRacing, Oct 7, 2020.

  1. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    motels, campgrounds, Airbnb, etc... ? I rode out to the Ozarks and Quachita mountains last year, and planned to camp. After 3 consecutive mornings of packing up in the rain I gave up and started using cheaper motels when I stopped for the nite. But I remember spending a lot of extra time making the reservations in the afternoons, usually stopping for a drink and to cool off, and then using my phone to research motels where I wanted to stop. a lot of times I got an answering machine, so couldn’t leave a message since I was getting on the bike and would be out of coverage.

    I’m looking at leaving out of Florida this weekend, headed to SW Missouri for a couple days and from there, if the weather holds, I’m headed towards maybe Salida or somewhere close. I’ve never been west of AR so I don’t know what to expect. Figure I’ll spend a some time in one location out there and ride day trips, coming back to my motel / room every nite. Looking at motels on Google, recs from this Forum and Airbnb, I have some ideas for when I get out there. After a week or so maybe head over to Moab for a bit. Also have a couple suggestions for out there. Maybe come back down thru AZ and NM and TX on the way home.

    I avoid Interstate, so for example the leg FL to MO will be 1200 miles and with the days getting shorter I may only do 500-600 miles a day, so 2-3 nights on the road.

    so 500 miles the first day puts me around Montgomery AL and I’ve spent the last couple evenings looking at motel reviews, Airbnb choices and TBH, I’d almost rather deal with a flat tire on the road than motel reservations. Maybe I need to search higher priced motels because everything I see the reviews suck. Probably stop a second nite so I don’t arrive at my friends place late at nite, so I’ll be looking somewhere in NW AR.

    so I guess I’m asking is how do people handle the lodging part of a trip if youre not camping (In past years I’ve done campsites and stealth camped but I really don’t want to carry the gear this trip especially if I’m going out to CO and UT)? In regards to finding and reserving a place. What’s it like for motels west of Missouri? Sad to admit I’m 61 and never been that far west. Seems like the Airbnb places are geared more for people who are spending a few days, not pulling in at 8-9 PM and leaving before 700.

    anyway, all suggestions, general or specific for a trip like this are appreciated. Ways to get a better price? Even other destinations or roads or any other “don’t miss this place” would be good. TIA, PMR
    #1
  2. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    eta - I’ve used the Tent Space Thread on past trips, but in the times of Covid don’t really want to impose on inmates.
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  3. KC10Chief

    KC10Chief Been here awhile Supporter

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    Honestly... Google. Search on the map for hotels in the town you want. You can search on the map and get a quick review of if it gets horrible reviews or not. If you're going to be in SW Missouri, I'd suggest that you check out Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There are great hotels there and some fantastic, scenic rides. On and off road. Headed west and avoiding interstates, there are great places to camp in Oklahoma too. We camp in Oklahoma all the time. Pawhuska, OK is a neat town to check out. That Pioneer Woman on TV has turned that place around. If you want to camp, then the Osage Hills State Park is a great place to camp. From there, Kaw lake in northern Oklahoma is nice for camping. Stillwater is a little further south but there's some good hotels there. Oklahoma State is there. One of my very favorite places to camp in Oklahoma is the Great Salt Plains lake State Park. It's NW of Enid a ways. Enid sucks. Keep on moving. But the lake is great. Quiet and dark. The weather this time of year in Oklahoma is great. The next ten days look to be fantastic. My number one recommendation for you if you're going to Colorado though, is Kenton, OK. It's out in the very end of the panhandle and about a mile from the NM border. It's the only town in Oklahoma on mountain time. From OKC, it's our half way point to Colorado and we have stayed/camped there many times. If you want to camp, the Black Mesa State Park is absolutely fantastic. It's one of the darkest spots in North America as well. We were there in July and could see colors in the Milky Way. If you want to stay in a room, the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast is one of the best places I've ever stayed. They have rooms as low as $60 a night. www.bmbb1.com. They feed you a nice hearty breakfast in the morning. Extremely quiet and dark out there. Just some cows, turkeys, and a few cats. The scenery out there is amazing too. I highly recommend that you stop there! Camping or at the BnB. Just don't pass up Boise City without getting fuel. From there, it's almost another 40 miles to Kenton. There's no fuel there. Only about 10 people live out there. Head west out of Kenton and take the 456 road in New Mexico out to Folsom. About 15 miles of that is dirt road but it's big bike friendly. Hard packed and graded. The scenery and isolation out there is outstanding. From Folsom, take 72 west towards Raton. You'll be on the Johnson Mesa. It's incredibly beautiful out there. Very green and you'll be seeing the mountains in the distance.

    For reservations at any Oklahoma State Park, check out www.travelok.com. Click on State Parks and then Find a State Park. Lots of options. I would make plans for the Black Mesa area though. You will not be disappointed. Salida, CO is a great town as well. You can ride there later into the fall and winter as well. If I were going to live in Colorado, I'd strongly consider the Salida area. If you want a good hotel with outside entrances, I highly recommend the Salida Inn and Monarch Suites. Reasonably priced and your bikes will be right outside your room. Also, if you're going that far, go a little further west over Monarch Pass (check weather conditions first) and then over to Montrose, and down to Ouray. Ouray might be the coolest town in Colorado. I recommend any hotel in town there. They're all great. From there, ride down the Million Dollar Highway (Check weather) and down to Silverton and Durango. That is one of the prettiest drives on earth. If you've never been west of Arkansas, you'll be totally blown away by the scenery.
    #3
  4. KC10Chief

    KC10Chief Been here awhile Supporter

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    Another suggestion... If you've been to NW Arkansas, check out SW Arkansas this time instead! It's a bit more direct route from Sarasota. Hot Springs, AR is very nice. Lots of great places to stay. One place I'd very much recommend, is the Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge in Arkansas. It is perched on top of the Talimena Scenic Byway between Mena, AR and Talihina, OK. Mena is kind of a dumpy place but Talihina is a neat little town. The lodge is great though. Nice rooms and there's a restaurant/bar there as well. The views are outstanding. It might be hard to get a room there this time of year since the fall foliage is coming. But that's usually the beginning of November so, you could just make it. The Talimena Drive is a very popular motorcycle spot too due to the hilly, twisty roads with great views. It is about a mile east of the Oklahoma border. Highly recommend. From there, it's almost 600 miles to the Black Mesa. Half of that would be interstate though and the rest would be secondary highway. There's not much traffic once you get NW of Oklahoma City though. Always nice riding out there.
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  5. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    ^^^ thanks for the ideas. I rode out and did the OZAT last Spring, and spent some time in the Quachita Mtns, spent a nite in Mena and then headed out because the weather was so bad that all over AR and MO, everything was flooding and it was miserable hot when it wasn’t storming.

    my fishing buddies from high school live in Joplin, so Eureka Springs might be a good area to stop my second day on the road, then I wouldn’t be getting into Joplin in the middle of the night.
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  6. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    My method is simple: I don't make reservations. A long time ago, I discovered that hotels and reservations were a major source of stress and regret on trips. Some examples:
    • Everything you're going through with trying to research and pick someplace as you are now.
    • Being forced to over-plan routes and stops because there is a reserved room somewhere with my credit card assigned. That makes it a schedule and a schedule is work. I'm supposed to be having fun.
    • Yeah, you can call before 6:00 PM and blow off a reservation if you want to change plans. Problem is: that now cascades into all the subsequent days and stops. Am I going to sit someplace for an hour or two and replan the entire trip? I'm supposed to be having fun.
    • I have walked into hotel/motel rooms where I had a reservation and the place was downright nasty. It's now late, I'm registered and it's kind of a PITA to move. If I didn't have a reservation, I'd have rolled right on by to the next place but, because it was already reserved...
    I ride until I don't want to ride any more and can change routes or stops to suit whatever I feel like in the moment. A crappy motel? Great motel but, don't like the gas station next door with the hookers and drug deals? Wish you could have stopped at some cool town? No problem. I'm not committed until I'm in the room. I'd rather cruise around motel row for 20 minutes and pick a place than to be locked in having a reservation and deposit hanging over my head.

    This has bitten me once in 35 years. That was Labor Day weekend in the Napa Valley area. Rooms were hard to find and I had to pay $30-40 more than usual to get a place.

    The only exception to this is when the destination is somewhere that I know I'll be for a period of time or rooms are expected to be sold out: race weekends, tourist traps, etc.
    #6
  7. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    After a full day in the saddle and I can figure out just how far I will make it that day, I’ll use Travelocity to find and reserve a motel. Sometimes that doesn’t happen until I pull into a town, but it always worked for me!
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  8. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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  9. motomem

    motomem Long timer Supporter

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    This is the fun way to do it. Ride until I am tired then start looking for a place.
    All and all I have stayed in decent places. I am still alive. Covid might be an issue.
    I have had one totally bad experience where I couldn't get a room anywhere. Bristol TN - a stock car race.

    One, Tuscam???, NM, where I got in the room late and had to sleep on top of the bedspread. I didn't know any motel ever closed up and left late at night. Nobody was there the next morning either but I didn't sleep on the side of the road.

    Once close to Dodge City I stayed in a place that the entire motel smelled of cow shit. Had a great time. Turned out the town was home to Festus from Gunsmoke. Motel had a bar full of shit kickers. They welcomed me like I was one of their own. It's all part of the road experience.

    Yeah different strokes for different folks. Consider throwing any plans to the wind. It can be a great life experience.
    #9
  10. motomem

    motomem Long timer Supporter

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    I have been through Sikeston many times, use to live in the area. It is a red neck shit hole. Still bad stuff can happen anywhere.
    #10
  11. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    I'd never used any of the 3rd party websites, always trying to use the motels own website, but some of them are a mess. looking at Travelocity tonight, its much better organized and the prices are no worse, even better, than using the Google links. I've found some options for my first 2 nites, but won't reserve anything until I'm actually moving. The Travelocity website looks like it makes finding a room much easier.

    I was looking for a room last Spring in MO, called the motel and checked the price. Guy didn't want my CC to reserve, said just pay when you get here. Got in around 6PM and while checking in the rate was about $15 more, I asked why and the guy said I had to go thru the website to get that rate. If I'd been smart Ida sat down and paid for the room on my phone but I was hot and beat and just wanted to lay down in a cold room. Buit I learned my lesson. Thanks again.

    on my trip last Spring I crossed the rivers at Cairo, the weather was horrible, rain, wind, lightning, I thought I was going to get blown off the Mississippi bridge. Most scared I've been on a bike in 40+ years. Pulled into a little motel in Charleston, MO, about 6 miles east of Sikeston. Thought about Larry the whole nite, finally fell asleep in the wee hours and actually felt pretty rested that next morning.
    #11
  12. dravnx

    dravnx Been here awhile

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    I use Booking.com or hotel.com. By lunch I know where I want to end up so I make my reservations over lunch. I've also had my SO find me a room in the town I want to over night in. She knows I like to stay near the downtown area or walking distance from pub or restaurant.
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  13. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    yeah, I've always done it that way, but by using Google and trying to call the motel directly. these apps may be the key.
    I have a friend who's wife makes his reservations for him every nite he's on the road. Pretty sweet deal
    #13
  14. scootac

    scootac Just a Traveler

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    Mid-afternoon, I'll stop and use Trip Advisor and google to find places where I figure I'll end the day. Somewhat ties me in to the chain places....but how many mom n pop places are there any longer? How many GOOD mom n pop places???
    Once I narrow it down to a couple places, read the reviews and look at what is close by for food. Are there clues to what kind/how safe an area might be? What other businesses are nearby? Might cost a bit more, but I sleep better if I'm not worrying about my bike or all the noise in the hallway.
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  15. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    Not to say that thinking is wrong but, when I wrote what I did, I had a very particular trip burned in my head.

    I had just spent the day doing all the visitor centers on both sides of Mount Saint Helens. I was circling around the south side of the mountain and headed back toward the interstate. It was twilight. I had made a reservation. I was bombing down the road, tired and done with fading light and deer. Somewhere around Cougar, there was a clean looking motel with the vacancy sign lit and some restaurant that smelled of BBQ. I so wanted to stop but...reservations. I stayed in some average dump in Gresham or Portland.

    That was one of the last times I did that. There were a few more stops like that on the trip and it changed how I traveled.
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  16. scootac

    scootac Just a Traveler

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    It's like looking for a good place to eat. Hungry and looking for a great burger/bbq/steak place....and finding nothing.....you settle for McDs.



    Then....5 miles down the road.....the best burger/bbq/steak place that you could only dream of finding!!!
    :becca
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  17. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    so...stop twice (and skip breakfast) :lol3
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  18. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    We use booking.com
    I have found Expedia to be $1 or $2 less in some places......but I like just going to the one site (booking.com)
    I'll sometimes reserve at noon that day for that nights sleep...but I've even pulled in a motel car park and used Booking.com to make the reservation!
    I think the clerks at the motel may be on commission...because unless you are talking to the owner Booking has ALWAYS been less than at the desk. One clerk even suggested I go out to the car park and book!
    The joy of the app is you can view MANY choices in a vast array of prices.
    I generally pick a place I like the name of that is in my price range.
    I try to steer away from anything with the name(s): Lodge, Resort....plus there is a picture of the place.....I like a motel room I can park outside my door.
    I was skeptical at first using the third party....but I have to say I have been very pleased with the experience and pricing.
    #18
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  19. dravnx

    dravnx Been here awhile

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    I guess it also depends on where you travel. If you're near high tourist locations, getting a room at the last minute can be problematic. I just experience this in N. Cal. Tried to get a room in Arcata, a little coastal college town. Every room in town was booked. Had the SO start searching and she found the very last room available in Eureka, the next town south of there. Luckily she was available to do this. If we didn't get this room, we would have had to widened our search and that was not the way I wanted to spend my evening after a long day of riding the twisties. The looking for a room process took a couple of hours so I was forced to hang out at a little cafe and drink beer and eat chicken wings.
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  20. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    yep, I had a little trouble finding motels Memorial Day weekend last year out in SW AR. Since I’ve never been to CO I’m not sure what to think. Some of the places that have been recommended are “no vacancy” online, but that’s every room every day for the whole month. Maybe they are full, maybe they’re shut down, maybe they really do have vacancies but their website is fooked up. I’m not close enough to leaving to call them so I’ll wait.

    played around with booking.com last nite, I think I like Travelocity better because it lists the room price and the “out the door” price right after it. Booking.com lists the price and then the various fees and taxes, so you’ve got to do the math in your head, math can be hard after a long day LOL.
    #20