East coast road trip advice

Pre book vs spontaneity
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East coast road trip advice

Postby RedB » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:23 pm

I'm planning an east coast road trip and need some advise. For most of my trips I have everything planned and booked weeks if not months out. With the shear amount of parks/activities I'm considering for this one, I'm wondering if I should instead book hotels day of. This would allow some flexibility to change plans on the fly based on weather or how much we are enjoying the park we are at that day.

Does anyone have experience doing trips this way? How did It work for you? Any sites or apps that you would recommend?
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Re: East coast road trip advice

Postby coasterbill » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:22 am

Honestly, it's pretty much the only way I ever do road trips. Being able to change plans based on weather / closed rides / seeing something cool on the way that you want to stop at / whatever else comes up is awesome and the pros of traveling spontaneously far outweigh the cons.

Everyone's different, but personally I don't understand the appeal of over-thinking things and over-structuring your vacation when it's a road trip. If you're flying, sure... but when you have your own car you're totally missing the point of the road trip if you over-complicate things.

Pick a hotel chain you like (personally I suggest Choice), get their app / credit card and book things on a whim while racking up a ton of points and getting some free rooms in the process. On our most recent road trip to the Midwest I booked hotels from the Choice app while standing in ride lines on multiple occasions. Some people don't like doing that and it stresses them out, but I don't understand why and I'll never understand those types of people.

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Re: East coast road trip advice

Postby RedB » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:40 am

Thanks for the reply. I have a few questions if you don't mind.
  • Why do you recommend choice?
  • Have you ever had trouble finding a hotel this way?
  • You say the pros outweigh the cons. What cons have you experienced?
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Re: East coast road trip advice

Postby coasterbill » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:00 am

RedB wrote:Thanks for the reply. I have a few questions if you don't mind.
  • Why do you recommend choice?

I recommend Choice for a few reasons. Most importantly, they own a TON of hotel brands. You'll never have a problem finding a Choice Hotel and that's helpful on a spontaneous trip. The own Clarion, Comfort Suites, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Mainstay Suites, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, Sleep Inn and some less common ones like Ascend Hotel Collection, Cambria Hotels & Suites and Suburban Extended Stay. I also really like some of their brands. Sleep inn is generally always a nice room, Comfort Suites is always great too.

They also tend to have great sign up offers with their Visa card which I recommend getting (ASAP since points take awhile to post after the first billing cycle where you meet the terms of the offer, usually spending $1,000 within 90 days). Use that whenever you book a Choice room. You'll rack up a crap ton of points and will get a ton of free rooms. If it's too late to take advantage of that, still get one and sign up. You'll get 10 points per dollar within 2 days of checking out of a room so later in the trip you'll still have tons of points and then with the card you'll accumulate even more points that don't expire (unless you totally stop using the card or staying in hotels) to use on your next trip.

Plenty of people prefer other chains and cards like Hilton and Hyatt (there's a thread dedicated to that here) but there are less of them and they require pre-planning. You won't be driving down the road in the middle of nowhere between parks and come across a random Hyatt but you'll find no problem finding tons of Choice Hotels. Wyndham is a good option too, I just don't like their rewards programs as much and their most common brands that you'll find everywhere generally blow.

RedB wrote:
  • Have you ever had trouble finding a hotel this way?

  • No. I used to have less brand loyalty because I was stupid and not using rewards programs so usually I'd get off a random exit and just drive up to random hotels that looked to be in our price range. Occasionally we'd come across hotels that were booked and I'd end up having to get back on the highway and keep driving for another 20 minutes or so but that was rare and now I book with the app (often when I'm only about 30 minutes out) so it's not a problem.

    RedB wrote:
  • You say the pros outweigh the cons. What cons have you experienced?

  • There really aren't any to be honest other than the fact that there's no structure whatsoever and some people don't like traveling that way. Personally, I don't care one bit.
    Last edited by coasterbill on Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:48 pm.

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    Re: East coast road trip advice

    Postby Hilltopper39 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:16 am

    Just a tip that I've found helpful that might benefit you but I've been pretty loyal to IHG (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaza etx.) for several years for various reason (business travel and a few cheap/convenient properties in Orlando we stay at a lot). The best rate they offer is an advance purchase non-refundable rate which is a pain at times because you can't cancel, but if you're a AAA member the AAA rate through them can be canceled up to like 5pm on the day of your check in. I'm not sure what the cancellation policy is with other chains but booking a AAA rate that can be canceled the day of is pretty handy on a spontaneous trip.

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    Re: East coast road trip advice

    Postby RedB » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:50 pm

    Thanks for the advise. We've decided to book rooms on the fly this trip. Only concern left is about park tickets. Hope I won't have any trouble getting last minute tickets printed at the hotel.
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    Re: East coast road trip advice

    Postby coasterbill » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:12 pm

    RedB wrote:Thanks for the advise. We've decided to book rooms on the fly this trip. Only concern left is about park tickets. Hope I won't have any trouble getting last minute tickets printed at the hotel.


    Pretty much every park can print them for you at Guest Relations if it comes to that.

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    Re: East coast road trip advice

    Postby Canobie Coaster » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:08 pm

    Even a Motel 6 will print tickets for you if you ask. If they can do it, anyone can do it.
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