First of all :
-it may be a good idea to order directories by mail or to print them, it'll be practical on the road.
-To print rebate coupons for motel/hotel rooms (it's the internet version of the guide you can obtain by going to a roadside Visitor's Center).
-don't forget to pick-up your free motel/hotel rebate coupon guide at each state's visitors center and ask for cheap places, restaurants and stuff. A smile goes a long way with someone who's been there all day answering the same questions over and over.
-take advantage of any AAA membership, AARP or Govt employee discounts in motels
-usually the smallest cities have cheaper rates, try to stay in the suburbs instead of the big cities.
-remain polite while bargaining, being pushy and rude won't give you a better rate and definitly not a better service.
-always take a look at the room/cabin before paying.
Here are a few ideas on where to sleep if you're on a budget :
CHEAP MOTEL ROOMS:
-motel 6 (usually the cheapest rooms among the big chains):
-Budget Host Inn : they have cheap room but they're not so many of them.
-Interstate Inn and 1st Inn (cheap rooms, sometimes not very clean):
-Mom & Pop Motels : usually roadside motel rooms, frequently old even crappy, relatively clean depending on the owner and the location, kitsch decor but cheap and gives you the opportunity to chat with locals.
MEDIUM RATES MOTEL/HOTEL ROOMS
-Red Roof Inn
-Super 8 motels
MEDIUM-HIGH RATES MOTEL/HOTEL ROOMS
-Econo Lodge, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, Comfort Inn
HIGH RATES MOTEL/HOTEL ROOMS
ALTERNATIVES TO HOTEL/MOTEL ROOMS :
-YMCA/YWCA in big cities sometimes have rooms for travelers
-University residence (usually during summer)
-B&B's are a great alternative for motel rooms, but they're usually much more expensive than motel rooms
CAMPGROUNDS AND CABINS
-Camprounds and RV Parks :
-The Campground Network : http://www.the-campground-network.com/
-Bureau of Land Management campgrounds (usually between 5-12$) :
FREE CAMPING/SLEEPING IN THE CAR (in other words if you like adventure):
List of "free" camping spots
Tips for finding free places
-Places less than $10 per night
-Tips for sleeping in cars
-Long term visitors areas
TRUCK STOPS are havens for travelers in the US : they sometimes rent rooms, or you can just sleep in your car in the parking lot, they have clean showers, cheapest gas, cheap food, souvenirs, camping supplies, maps, private phone cabins, laundromats, 7/24... note : I know Flying J has a frequent fueler program, you can order a frequent fueler card for free that gives you rebate on gas and products, I'm sure other truck stops have that kind of program too. Don't forget to ask for a free directory it's always practical to have it on the road.
-TA Travel Centers
-Pacific Custom Brokers : www.pcb.ca
Ok I guess that's enough for one day:-) Have a nice trip and drive safely! Gen:-)