If you wouldn’t dream of travelling without securing a reservation (complete with confirmation number) three months in advance at the nearest Hilton – well, you’re probably not reading this article.
But if you’re like more adventurous travelers, who drive until they’re tired (or until the gas runs out, whichever comes first), finding a good, cheap motel at a moment’s notice can be problematic.
When you see a dozen different motels vying for your business at the next interstate exit, how do you know which one to choose?
Fortunately, there’s a little-known way to find at least “minimally acceptable” motels. And that’s by making a habit of stopping at information centers, usually located at rest stops when you enter a state and picking up a copy of a green-covered Traveler guide.
The ad for these Traveler guides reads “Read ’em and sleep. Coast to coast, more hotels accept Traveler Discount Guide’s coupons that any other guide.” Coupons are available for a wide range of discounts to mid-tier hotels and motels.
Most of the truly sleazy motels these days have been weeded out by competition, so the basics for your night’s stay – a bed, television, and shower – are pretty much standard.
More and more common are refrigerators and microwaves, which can be a real convenience, especially for people traveling with small children.
Also common is free coffee in the rooms and free continental breakfast – though such a breakfast may consist of cheap coffee and
If you’re willing to pay a bit more – say, 20 or 30 a night more – many motels offer Premium packages. You’ll usually get a bigger
television with, perhaps, premium channels, amenities such as a pool, exercise room or Jacuzzi, and often a fuller breakfast selection.
Traveler guides also offer other information that might help you make a choice. For example, the Guides usually indicate which hotels/motels accept pets if there are weight limits for the pet and the additional cost.
You might also discover that a particular motel offers free accommodations for children under 18.
In short, stopping at an Information Center and reading the Traveler Guide can be a convenient way to wade through your accommodation choices when traveling in unfamiliar territory.
If the Information Center is near where you plan to stop for the night, you can also get advice from the people who work there and live nearby. Some will even call the motel directly and make a reservation for you.
When you add that convenience – plus clean restrooms and free coffee! – taking the time to stop at state Information Centers can be
well worth the extra time.