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  1. Default Hotels along the way/Camping in Yellowstone

    I'm planning an epic road trip from Maryland to Yellowstone to Florida and back to Maryland.
    For the first major leg of my trip, I was looking at hotel rooms and rates along the way. Hotwire offers steeply discounted rooms ($48 for a 2.5 star hotel) on the date I'm making my first stop, but I'm wondering if I should just wait till the day of.
    So my question is... do you book in advance or do you wait till you are ready to stop?
    And is it unreasonable to expect to get a tent site in one of the first-come first-serve campsites for someone with a tent Jun 27-Jun 30 time frame? I really don't want to have to come and go from the park to get it all in a few days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I generally do not make reservations when in transit, but do when staying in or near a major tourist attraction. You can get good walk-in rates using coupons from books available at rest areas and truck stops, and you should join AAA for their free maps and hotel discounts, in addition to emergency service.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I never book via hotwire on a roadtrip in advance. I frequently use hotwire and priceline, but with their no cancellation policies, I don't make a reservation there until I'm 100% certain I know where I'll want to spend the night - and on a roadtrip, that usually doesn't mean until a few hours before I'm ready to stop. If you book with them, and you can't make it as far as you'd planned (be it because of traffic, weather, or you just find something interesting along the way), then you're stuck - either losing money or pushing yourself to go farther than is safe.

    As far as Yellowstone goes, it will depend upon when you arrive. The first-come sites can be gone as early as 9 or 10 am on some days. If you're planning to arrive in the evening, you'll almost certainly be out of luck. As I mentioned, I try to avoid reservations when I can, but I made the decision that for Yellowstone, it wasn't worth the risk to be shut out of a site.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Winging it.

    I too rarely book ahead, for all the reasons Michael mentioned, preferring to use the discount coupon books mentioned above, and find a place when I know how far I will get. Be conscious of holiday times, e.g. 4th July. One thing when you are using the cheaper hotels, check the room before you commit.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Hotwire offers steeply discounted rooms ($48 for a 2.5 star hotel) on the date I'm making my first stop, but I'm wondering if I should just wait till the day of.
    So my question is... do you book in advance or do you wait till you are ready to stop?
    Like others here, we don't book ahead of time except under the following circumstances:
    * We need a place in a touristy area, such as around a national park.
    * We need a place around a holiday weekend (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day).
    * We want a place that has certain amenities.
    Otherwise, we use coupons, decent deals found online, or similar. We've used hotels.com and Priceline, but never Hotwire, and only on the day we wanted the place. We regretted it one time: we booked a place in Primm, NV, that we absolutely hated. Wished we'd stayed anywhere else!

    And is it unreasonable to expect to get a tent site in one of the first-come first-serve campsites for someone with a tent Jun 27-Jun 30 time frame?
    We stayed this past summer in West Yellowstone, MT, because we couldn't get a hotel room inside Yellowstone. When we entered the park every *morning*, there was a board just outside the Entrance Station, stating which campgrounds had open spaces for that night. When we entered it one afternoon, that same board had FULL by every single campground. So I'd say, be prepared to arrive at 9 am to get a site. You could stay overnight outside of the park one night and be in line the next morning. That's what people did years ago, before national park campgrounds started taking reservations for the tent sites.


    Donna

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