Places to Stay
My friends and i are planning a 3-4 month roadtrip from L.A to New York next summer. We are from New Zealand so we don't really have a good idea of how much things are going to cost us, but our main problem is accomodation. We aren't really camping people, but we will have a tent just incase and if all else fails we will sleep in the car. But ideally we would rather stay in cheap motels. So is there are a Cheap Motel chain that is better than others? Any help would be great!!
Where to stay
On the west coast the cheapest most reliably clean motel chain is Motel 6. Rates vary drastically by location, though and these small units are often full.
Motel 6, Super 8, Days Inn are all hotel chains that usually have fairly low rates. The rates are much lower in less populated areas and, as the previous poster mentioned, they do vary widely.
All of these chains have free guides listing all of their locations by area. They also have internet sites that you can visit and see if they have locations where you are going. Often, if you reserve ahead, you can get the internet rate.
I would also add that individually owned motels, we often call them "mom and pop" motels can sometimes be a real bargain as well and will usually save you from that cookie-cutter feeling that chains often have.
Another option is that some campgrounds have camping cabins to rent. Many KOA Kampgrounds have them. KOA also has a website where you can research locations. Plus, for a small fee (I think it's $10) you save on camping fees. If you use it more than 2-3 times on your trip, it will have more than paid for itself. They also have a free guide at their campgrounds of locations throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, etc.
One last advice: if the hotel has few cars in the parking indicating that there are probably lots of vacancies, you can dicker on rates. For example, the internet rate at Motel 6 is almost always at least $5.00 cheaper than their usually rate. Sometimes even more than $5.00 cheaper. As we have to have reservations that limit spontaneity, what we will do is try to talk the clerk into the internet rate. Most of the time, we get it. Just as nicely with a smile!
Choose "Good Deal" NEVER "Cheap"
Plenty has been shared about the pros and cons of the Motel 6 chain on this forum (for a review use the red search button and enter Motel 6). But in general, the furnishings in the "cheaper" chains are very basic and "deal rates" are harder to obtain than other motels.
With the exception of Motel 6, virtually every room rate in every motel is open to discussion. All managers have some authority to change the listed rate -- they would rather be able to support higher occupancy reports than "maintain the line about rental rates."
Our advice, choose the motel on the basis of location and amentites and try to talk your way into a good deal. If the parking lot is nearly empty when you check-in -- your chances are good that the manager will be amenable.
Motel 6 rates
You said: With the exception of Motel 6, virtually every room rate in every motel is open to discussion.
I have routinely received discounts of anywhere from $5 to $15/nite on rates at Motel 6. As long as they are not full, they are just as open to it as other chains, IMHO.
cheap places to stay
My experiences with Motel 6 have been that they are usually more expensive than the other discount motels. I like to check out the Red Roof Inns. I have never paid more than $42 a night there and just went to their website and found out that they are running a special right now where a lot of their roomsm are $33 a night. They are not fancy but are always clean and in decent shape. They are usually pretty small but if all you need is a bed and a shower at a place that is clean and safe I prefer Red Roof. Super 8 is usually a good bet too. If you want to spend a little more you can look up the Baymont Inns and Suites on the web--they are offering a $49 deal this summer and this includes a small suite with a fridge and microwave at most locations.
You could also try staying at a hostel. It just depends on how many are traveling. If you have more than 2 people then it is probably going to be cheaper renting a cheap motel room. Just be careful what part of town you stay in.
This has been our experience too. Plus, Red Roof Inns are very accepting of companion critters. The only chain that is nicer to dogs is La Quinta (but about twice as much per night). Thanks for sharing your experiences on this matter!