Easy peasy, stress free travel planning – part 3 (where to ZZZzzz)

versaillesbedroom

You’re adventurous. You’re an explorer.  You’re daring.

You’re following AGMA’s travel advice which makes you VERY daring!

With your incredibly inexpensive Scotts Cheap Flights airline ticket tightly clutched in your sweaty palm, your itinerary set and your transport lined up, now it’s time to figure out where you will spend each night of your adventure.

Some people are totally ok with finding a place to stay each night on the fly.

On one hand, it allows for more travel spontaneity.  You aren’t tied down to a set schedule or list of destinations.

This is not AGMA.

While the idea of total travel freedom is indeed intoxicating,  I’m more concerned about knowing I’ll have a comfy place to lay my head at night that isn’t hosting a bed bug flash mob.

Being very left-brained, AGMA needs to plan.  And plan.  And plan.

Although as I’m getting older, I’m more willing to just sort of go with the flow EXCEPT where lodging is concerned.

IMPORTANT:  Start shopping for your lodging as soon as you figure out your itinerary.  You will have the best selection at the lowest prices if you do!

If you’re not on an escorted tour or a package tour (airfare/hotel/car provided), finding a place to stay each night is a big deal.

It’s a big deal because:

  1.  Location is important!  If you know you want to spend 90% of your time in central Paris walking around smelling croissants baking, you don’t want to stay 20 miles outside of the city.  You don’t want to have to take a 40 minute train ride into the city (and back) everyday with those yellow vest guys.
  2. Hospitality, comfort and cleanliness (HCC) is important!  Hosts who speak English.  No bed bugs. Not 4 floors up with no elevator.  No shared bathroom. Heat in the winter.  However you define hospitality, comfort and cleanliness…
  3. Cost is important!  If you travel on a budget like AGMA and Hubs, this is a big deal.  Lodging costs can quickly add up and bust your budget.  Very quickly.

As is true in every aspect of life, no one hotel/B&B will be perfect, fulfilling all of your criteria.

Damn…I hate it when that happens.

IMPORTANT:  Start shopping for your lodging as soon as you figure out your itinerary.  You will have the best selection at the lowest prices if you do!

As you research, you’ll find you’ll be constantly flip flopping between the importance/priority of location, HCC and cost.

For example, you might want to always stay in the core city.  But if you have a rental car, you might also want lodging with free parking (parking can be very $$ in central city areas) so might be willing to be a bit out of the city.  If you won’t have a car, you may be willing to pay a bit more for a centrally located hotel because you don’t want to have to take taxis, Ubers or public transit.

Years ago, Hubs and I wouldn’t blink to stay on the 3rd floor of a hotel with no elevator.  Now that he’s mobility impaired, we might do one flight of stairs, otherwise we need an elevator.  And because public transit is difficult for him, we tend to spend a bit more for lodging than in the past so we can be more central.  And we take more Ubers and taxis.

And again, your best friend in your lodging search will be Ms. Google.  Specifically Trip Advisor, AirB&B (or VRBO, etc), and Google Maps.

You’ll probably have a lodging budget (the “cost” component) unless you won the MegaMillions a few months ago.  If you did, please email me…

AGMA’s goal is always to average less than $100 per night for lodging (for 2) for a trip while meeting my HCC and location “goals” (give or take a bit).

I ALWAYS start out with TripAdvisor.

TA is sort of a clearing house for travel booking sites and gives you a general idea of hotel costs at your destination.  TA lists the costs of each hotel on Expedia and Orbitz and Agoda and lots of other sites. Clicking on one of those sites will take you out of TA and onto that travel booking site.  TA will also give you each hotel’s website and a map with the hotel’s location.

TA has a star “quality” ranking of hotels based on traveler reviews.  I estimate 80% of them are legit and I DO take time to read many of them if I’m interested in a specific hotel.  Also, you want to make sure there are recent reviews and they don’t all date back to 2017.  That’s suspicious…

And I’m always impressed when the hotels take the time to respond to reviewers.

So if I find a hotel in the general location I want, that is sort of in my price range, and has good reviews, I click on a few of the travel booking sites (like Booking.com or Expedia) to see how much it would cost to book with them.

BEWARE!!!  The cheapest prices are often “pay up front” deals meaning you pay when you book.  Some are non-refundable.  Some are refundable with advanced notice.  Read the fine print and cancellation policy before you book!

Often, you can get almost the same deal through the hotel website without paying in advance.  But not always.  Again, know when payment is required and read the cancellation policy.  I always prefer to book directly with the hotel, but will book through a travel booking site if it’s substantially cheaper (sometimes it is) and the reservation is cancellable with no penalty.

IMPORTANT:  Start shopping for your lodging as soon as you figure out your itinerary.  You will have the best selection at the lowest prices if you do!

Am I repeating myself…?

So what was supposed to be a single, helpful travel planning post has expanded to 3 very wordy posts.  And lucky you – AGMA still has more to say!

Part 4.  Soon.

Be there.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Easy peasy, stress free travel planning – part 3 (where to ZZZzzz)

  1. Great advice here, AGMA. I like Trip Advisor too, and I like to think I’m good about spotting those who are just ridiculously picky in their reviews vs. “normal” and “sensible” people like myself. My only real negative about the site is that if you’re logged in and looking at places, they’ll later send you lots of emails offering you deals for it. So don’t forget to make sure you’re logged out completely when you finish. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I swear we share a travel brain! The second I’ve nailed down an itinerary, I’m scouring the booking sites for the lowest priced place that’s central and isn’t going to involve sharing a bathroom with a herd of strangers. Although I generally only use the booking sites for research and prefer to book direct…there’s been nothing but issues upon arrival when I’ve used a booking site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always love to find kindred traveling spirits! I had one exception to my “book as early as possible”… I booked a small 2 star hotel in Rome for one night (leaving the next morning). When I booked it 5 months out, it was $61 a night which I thought was good. When I looked a prices 10 days before, it was $41 a night! Oh well – you can’t win them all…

      And I have never had any problems booking lodging on a travel site. I prefer to book directly just to cut out the middle “man”, but again, a number of times I’ve found better deals on travel sites OR I’ve found rooms where the hotel website said there were no rooms (weird…). I have had serious issues booking air on travel sites and make it a rule not to do that (although I broke my rule when we went to Istanbul last fall – the deal on Expedia was just too amazing to pass up!). I’m such a travel whore…

      Like

  3. Nice job—very helpful post.
    The one time I found a better price through a booking site, I called the hotel and asked them to match it, and they did.

    I too rely heavily on Trip Advisor. I am so grateful for the kindness of strangers that I feel compelled to do likewise, which reminds me. I have some reviews to post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have way more energy than I do Shelley… I will be lazy and book on the travel site if the price is lower and it fits my booking criteria! I did, however, talk down two rooms 10 Euros each with the B&B owner for our upcoming trip to France… I was kinda proud of myself!

      And I used to be great at writing reviews on TA, but again, I got lazy. I really need to “pay it forward”! Thanks for the reminder!

      Like

  4. Great post. With all the travel consolidators out there, it’s nice to see multiple folks vote for Trip Advisor as a good spot to check out lodging. Which, I hear, we should get booked as soon as we know when we’re going to be somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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