I sure appreciate everyone's help here! Your replies have helped us make some decisions for our trip from Ohio to Vegas. Ok, so we are taking I70, I44, I40 then 93 into Vegas. Does anyone know how much the toll runs you on I44 through Oklahoma? Also, we are planning on staying in motels/hotels along the way...taking probably 4 days to get there. We aren't sure how far we will get daily...we've mapped out a 3-day and 4 day trip. With both of us driving, its hard to tell which we will want to take (3 or 4). So making reservations is probably not a good idea. But on the other hand, will we have a hard time getting a room along this route without reservations? Not sure what to do about this one. We are leaving July 19th. What do you guys think?
Reservations not part of the adventure
In my view, I avoid motel reservations on ALL roadtrips for the following reasons:
1) A roadtrip is an adventure, it is by nature, fluid and dynamic, a reservation in town down the road may provide a sense of security but it might prevent you from taking an unexpected route.
2) Sometimes, reservations lock you into places that you don't want to stay once you arrive in the place.
3) Reservations are based upon "list price" -- all motel rooms are open for discussion when you arrive -- look at how full the parking lot is and determine how badly the manager wants to rent the room to you.
4) Only exception -- might be Las Vegas. The nicest places nearly always book up early. However, even in Vegas when the town is "100% booked" you can always find a room...
5) If getting to a motel late at night makes you uncomfortable, it also works to get there in late afternoon, check-in and then go exploring in the area.
I agree with the advice you already got. On top of that, avoid chains! There are numerous little mom-and-pop type operations out there that are often threadbare yet clean. Unless you are seeking an amenity they usually don't have...like a pool on a hot evening...they can be some of the funnest places to stay with the most interesting decors.
And run by some of the nicest people. Like the circa 1950 camping cabins we stayed in while in New Mexico run by a sweet old man who regaled us with stories for about an hour out on his front porch. And like the lady who brought my 18 month old daughter an Easter basket on Easter morning while we were tripping down the Oregon coast. You don't get that type of service in a chain!!
Chains are run by "Moms & Pops"
Although it can be true that you can find some pretty wonderful independent motels out there, the managers of the largest chains are still individuals. Don't knock the chains, they serve their purposes too.
I agree that chains have their place. Sometimes it's nice to have the security you often feel in a chain. And some like Motel 6 and Days Inn often have very good prices as well with more amenities than many independents. I just happen to think that chains, quite often, make for a more memorable experience. :-)
Cheap is never in-expensive
For a complete view of the value of places like Motel 6, use the search utility on the top of all of the forum pages. I can't think of a situation where I could be compelled to stay over-night in a Motel 6.
As a general rule, motels affiliated with the Best Western franchise are within $15-$20 of the cheapest rooms in any town and the experience of staying at a Best Western in 100% better than a Motel-6. However, the chain I prefer when they are available is La Quinta. Always friendly to dogs, always have decent internet access, the rooms are always pleasant and the staff is welcoming.
At some of the more "charming" independent motels -- I am loathe to plug my laptop into their phone systems except in a dire emgergency!
No laptop fears here
I can see your point for situations involving laptops, etc. I don't travel with one so that's not an issue for me.
I agree with your assessment on hotels...Motel 6 is just a cheap chain that popped into my head. I've stayed at some good ones, and some not. Days Inn have been pretty good as well, and the Best Westerns. Never stayed in a LaQuinta, I don't think.
Personally, unless it's real cold or wet, I prefer camping. A couple of sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and a small tent take up little space and only take a few minutes to get set-up. I'd rather save my money for fun stuff to do on the road than paying for a bed. Just IMHO, of course.
Your valuable tips are featured on this week's home page (www.roadtripamerica.com)
Wow, very cool. I e-mailed two mailing lists I'm on for two VW car groups I'm in with the link. Hopefully some of them will become future participants in our boards. Lots of roadtrippers in those groups.
Thanks!! :-) Judy