First off, if you do a trip like this, you need to minimize the money hemorrhage by having someone cover your rent or mortgage. I put the word out on the Astoria street, via bartenders, that I’m looking for a sub-letter. Luckily, one of the bartenders, one of the sweetest girls in the world, needed a place.
If you’re not working and you don’t have a stock portfolio generating huge amounts of income, you’re simply going to bleed money if you take a road trip. So suck it up and dig into your savings.
Camping is a money savings but not as much as everyone thinks. Most National Parks charge $21 per night. And then you have to buy and cook all your own food. Exhausting after a while. And you’re cleaning dishes with bottled water. A lot of hotels provide free breakfast and there are cheaper dining options in civilization. As most single people know, eating out is often cheaper than grocery shopping for one person.
Hotwire has been my go to booking system. The reason it works for me is because I am very flexible. When you search for a room in a particular area, it shows you all the options, the hotels’ ratings and costs but it does not give you hotel names. The hotel locations are simply described as a general geographic area. Sometimes it’s a 5 mile square area. Your putting your money down blind and the hotel details are revealed after your credit card is charged.
I might not use this if I was a family of four planning a dream vacation. I don’t have to be anywhere specific and if the hotel is not great, it’s only for one night.
Also, the hotel rooms on Hotwire become cheaper the closer you are to the check in date and I often make my reservation on the check in date.
A few days ago, I stayed at a lovely Holiday Inn resort in Gulfbreeze, Florida. The rooms are normally $130 to $300. I paid $50. The hotel upgraded me to an ocean view suite because the place was pretty empty and I have a lot of points with Holiday Inn. That was luck, because I did not know I was staying at a Holiday Inn when I pressed “buy.”
What do I do if I really don’t like a hotel? Nothing has been that bad that I can’t stay the night. But if something is outrageously wrong, like a cockroach infestation at the Ramada Limited (pictured above) in Durango, Colorado, I tweet the hotel chain. Normally they will compensate me somehow. Which is way more than my landlord in Astoria did all those years that I had a hoarder living below me and cockroaches were the least disgusting of my problems.