Hi, I'm about to embark on a 6k or so mile road trip; you know, that one I've always wanted to take but have been waiting for the [insert excuse]. Just wondering if anyone has tips on minimizing my lodging budget while maximizing points. Is there any chance at finding lower rates by just showing up and talking to the front desk? Can I safely avoid too much advance planning or do rates often go up the closer to the date of arrival? Any other tips? I do have a Marriott brand rewards card, if that matters. I am about to leave from Chicago with literally no plans other than getting home safely again and a few places I know I want to experience along the way. Thanks in advance! Jezza
jezza, I've driven cross country five times, so I have a teeny bit of experience with road trips. I usually look at the map to see what cities, towns are in the direction I'm headed to. I try and avoid staying in larger cities because they tend to be pricier. However, on weekends, you can almost always find great rates at hotels that are frequented by the Monday-Friday business crowd.
I only book in advance if I'm positive that I'll reach that destination. Otherwise, I'll book the day of, or hours before I get to my overnight stopping spot. I've only walked up to the front desk once without a reservation, but it was shear luck that vacancy was low so I got a great rate. I've even booked via the app sitting in the parking lot of the hotel minutes before I walk in. Obviously, if there's an event going on, rates will be higher, so you can decide on whether or not to bypass the area.
The mobile app is great for finding all Marriotts in your current location or by entering a destination. Also, you can find all Marriotts in a particular state. You can see the rates for all of them, and with that information, you can pick any destination that you might want to explore. Thats how I ended up at the Springhills in Grand Junction, CO and Deadwood, SD, both gems. The rates were great, so we incorporated them into our trip.
Which direction are you heading to from Chicago? Are you planning on traveling in the US or Canada, or both?
muppetwrangler awesome advice! Really, that was great and makes me want to road trip it to fun little towns .
SeaTexan, sometimes the best trips are the fly-by-your-pants road trips. No set itinerary, just drive and explore. My Toyota minivan (that I swore I would never, ever, EVER, own... but then along came the muppet and well, I'm driving a minivan), is pushing close to 250k miles. Yes, I'm a little bit crazy, but life is good!
Thanks, muppetwrangler. Really helpful. So it sounds like the best rates are going to be whatever you can get online. That's what I wanted to know. Great tip re searching by state and comparing rates. I sort of imagined doing what you described.. just driving and starting to look around on the app when I can tell it's nearing time to stop. Im planning on heading south and west. I'll make stops in Florida, NOLA, Texas, AZ, Utah, and maybe Yellowstone but I feel like that might really be its own trip someday. Helpful to know someone else has taken and enjoyed these kinds of relatively unplanned road trips. I'm looking forward to it!