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One of the many enjoyable ways to travel is without lodging reservations.   Being able to stop when and where you want is great fun but can lead to disappointments.  Read our recommendations to find out how to minimize the risk of finding "no room at the inn".


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Travel Advice - Traveling without room reservations

We find it enjoyable to travel without advanced room reservations when traveling during the "off" season. Being “reservationless” lets you to extend your stay when you find a destination that you really like, rather than rushing off to another location just because you have a reservation to keep. In addition, being footloose allows you to stop and plop if your travel schedule has been too aggressive.

Finally, if you do not have reservations along the way, you can decide to change your plans if a new destination attracts your fancy. Some people feel that having advance reservations makes a land trip the equivalent of a cruise and too much like a tour.

Traveling without  accommodation reservations requires flexibility. You must be willing to accept the potential for higher prices, less attractive rooms and, perhaps, accommodations that offer fewer amenities. Conversely, you may find better rooms at lower rates. Just remember, traveling without reservations is always a gamble but one that you can enjoy, if you observe a few guidelines.


Tactics for traveling without reservations

Some destinations have “peak” seasons for tourism and finding an available room during this time can be difficult (unless, of course, you are willing to pay an astronomically high, room rate). Conversely, you can travel without reservations during the shoulder season (a month before or after the “season”) or during the off-season and usually find a room that suits your need at any location.

If you are traveling without reservations, try to book that night’s accommodations early in the day. Waiting until the afternoon restricts your choices of available rooms. If possible, call ahead, describe your requirements, and ask for pricing. Just showing up and asking for a room reduces your bargaining power (if that is important to you). If the price is too steep, indicate the amount you would be willing to pay, and see if they will bargain.

If you are internet savvy, stop in an Internet Cafe while traveling, visit one of the online booking services to find a room. Alternatively, you can initiate a “Google” search on “hotels” and the geographic area you are visiting and call the hotel directly.

If you are spending a night at a regional or national hotel chain that you like, ask if they can book ahead for a room at your next destination. Alternatively, see if they have a directory of hotel properties and take one with you so that you can call ahead when you decide you next need a room.

If you are already at the destination, see if you can find a Tourist Office or Tourist Information Office and ask them to help you find a place to stay (this is a great suggestion for travelers in most European Countries). We have had especially helpful assistance when booking at tourist offices in the UK and France.



In Europe, if you plan to vacation in August, reserve your accommodations before you go. Most Europeans vacation for the month of August and many places (particularly the shore) are very crowded.

If you have specific travel needs related to accessibility, it is in your best interest to reserve your accommodations well ahead. Most lodging establishments have only a limited supply of special accessibility rooms.

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