My Momma Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head
I'm writing this blog post from the Royal Gorge KOA Kampground as I listen to The Wind and The Wave. The song lyrics, "My momma said be careful where you lay your head" and the fact that we only paid $26 to spend the night here brings me to the point of this Sunday's travel time post: Lodging.
I'll start off by saying that it is not imperative to either Lindsay or I that we sleep in a fancy hotel for the most of the time we travel. Sometimes a fancy hotel with fluffy pillows and lots of amenities is nice, but when weighing the cost against being able to travel more, do more things, or try a new experience, a place to sleep becomes pretty unimportant. At the end of the day, we just want a place to lay our heads.
With that being said, there are some requirements for where we lay our heads. It must be safe and clean. It must be a place where we can actually sleep. And it should ideally be conveniently located. There a 3 ways we find lodging that fits these requirements; camping, AirBnB, and Hotels.com.
We will start from the most basic, and current favorite of ours, camping. For us, camping is a seasonal thing, unless we are traveling to a warm climate. A few nights ago we slept at the campground at Mount Evans, a Colorado 14er. We were about 10,000 feet up in the mountain. Night temps fell into the mid 30s F. That was pushing it on the cold for us. But in general camping fits all our requirements. It's cheap, once you have the equipment, ranging from FREE if you choose dispersed camping to roughly $20-$50 depending on the campground you choose. It's safe and clean, based on how you maintain your own campsite. And it's generally convenient, depending on your location. If you're in Manhattan, camping probably isn't going to work for you.
The next, and probably most common way we book lodging, is through AirBnB. We have used AirBnB more times than I can count, all across the country, and even in foreign countries and we have never once had an issue. The key is to read the reviews before you book and communicate well with the host. I know some people aren't comfortable with the idea of sleeping in another person's home but we have found it to be a great way to meet new people, if you so choose. Many AirBnB hosts will interact with you if you want, and leave you be if you'd like more seclusion.
Lastly, we book hotels or a bed and breakfast. Let's face it, sometimes a night in a hotel room where someone else cleans up your towels is nice. It's also generally the most expensive kind of lodging. There are ways to pare down the cost. First, having AAA is a great way to save a few bucks on a hotel. Always ask when booking for the AAA rate, or check the website for special pricing. To find hotel deals I use Hotels.com. I can put in my price range and amenity choices, which almost always includes a free breakfast, and then check the maps view to find the location of the hotel.
There are a few key things to look at when booking a hotel, and Hotels.com gives you easy access to that information. I always read the reviews. I honestly think review reading is the best way to assure you'll get a decent deal and a decent nights sleep. Let's be honest, if your options are between a $75 a night hotel and $100 a night hotel, but that $75 hotel has terrible reviews, go for the more expensive place. It's not always about cost.
After finding a hotel on Hotels.com I generally visit the hotels direct website. If prices are comparable or the same (which they generally are if you sign up for the hotel chain's "club") I always book direct. Similar to flights, booking direct gets you better service and you're less likely to be the overbooked guests. Additionally, calling the hotel directly will sometimes snag you a better last minute deal than you will find online. I avoid making phone calls like the plague, so I usually delegate that to my phone friendly wife.
At the end of the day, you need to judge how important the place you lay your head is. For us, it's the journey that is the adventure, and not the destination.
Travel on, friends.