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book accomadation, or risk it???

Old 12-01-06, 08:59 AM
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Gotte
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book accomadation, or risk it???

What's the general consensus - when touring, do you book accomadation in advance (before you leave for the tour), or do you wait till you turn up in whatever town and hope and pray?
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Old 12-01-06, 09:29 AM
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I camp, and I don't book in advance. Sometimes I book in the morning for that night, if I'm going somewhere that is super touristy, especially if I want indoor accomodation (motel, hostel). I hate being tied down to a particular destination each night - too much can happen that makes you want to change your plans.

Things usually work out in unexpected and often really positive ways - that's one of the really cool things about touring.
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Old 12-01-06, 10:50 AM
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I generally avoid booking in advance because doing so limits my flexibility and sometimes I really don't know how many miles I'll cover in a day. However, I do pretour research to discover how many and what type of accommodations are available on my "planned" route and potential overnights. I typically overnight in smaller communities where there is not much demand for the available hotel rooms and avoid high season in touristy areas. I have always found a room when I needed one.
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Old 12-01-06, 10:52 AM
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A combination. I like the security of knowing I have a place at night, but I also like the flexibility to stop when I feel like it, or to take a day off. I tour in the spring and fall, and avoiding high season makes it a little easier to go without reservations. But you can get caught by unexpected things like a fall festival that fills all the accommodation, particularly on weekends. Therefore I am more likely to book ahead for weekends.
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Old 12-01-06, 11:15 AM
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It depends on where I am and how tight I expect accommodation to be. On my last three overseas trips, I've booked well in advance for the night after I arrive and the night before I leave. I don't want to go scrounging for cheap accommodation in a strange city/country when I'm jet-lagged and sleep deprived after a long flight, and I want to know how far it is to the airport and how I'm going to get there when I've got to catch a flight home and get to work the next day. The rest of the time I play it by ear, sometimes I book ahead and sometimes I just show up. I've had some close calls where I thought I wouldn't have to book ahead and I ended up wandering the streets in a drenching rain trying to find accommodation (that's when I decided to bring camping gear on the next tour).
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Old 12-01-06, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
What's the general consensus - when touring, do you book accomadation in advance (before you leave for the tour), or do you wait till you turn up in whatever town and hope and pray?
I generally book the first night in advance. If I'm touring over a holiday weekend (I started on Labor Day once), I'll book the whole weekend ahead. Campgrounds, motels, etc. can fill up quickly on holidays depending on where you are touring. If you happen to be touring in Colorado on Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day, you might not find a campground with an empty space anywhere in the state... private or public!
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Old 12-01-06, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
I generally book the first night in advance. If I'm touring over a holiday weekend (I started on Labor Day once), I'll book the whole weekend ahead. Campgrounds, motels, etc. can fill up quickly on holidays depending on where you are touring. If you happen to be touring in Colorado on Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day, you might not find a campground with an empty space anywhere in the state... private or public!
+1 (haven't bike toured...yet!) But I backpacked India, Europe and Central America and used this train of thought and it worked out very well.
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Old 12-01-06, 11:57 AM
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I find it always best to book the first couple of nights if you are going abroad, from wherever you live.

I need somewhere to rebuild the bike etc.

But on the road I like to chance it, I have found some amazing places this way. Hostels, camping and Stealth.
It adds a dimension to the tour that is hard to explain, but makes it fun.

Tailwinds

george
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Old 12-01-06, 12:17 PM
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The only time I've ever booked in advance was when I did a tour of Ontario's cottage country, because I know things fill up on the weekend. Otherwise I've never booked in advance, and never had a problem finding a place.
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Old 12-01-06, 01:38 PM
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It is also a case of your individual attitude. If you are not comfortable on a tour unless you have advance knowledge of where you'll be laying your head, then you'll probably be happier booking ahead until you achieve a mindset where you no longer believe it is necessary. On the other hand, if you can easily adjust to inconveniences or live with the less than ideal, then going without booking ahead is not going to be that difficult.

A couple of years ago I arrived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands about 11pm without advance room reservations (btw, this was backpacking, not cycling). I refused to pay the exhorbitant room rates being charged by the places with rooms available, so I elected to spend a night exploring the night life of Amsterdam. To unburden myself, I stored my backpack in a locker at the train station and kept the valuables hidden on me (except for a few emergency euros should the unthinkable happen). I then spent the evening exploring Amsterdam's famous Red Light District (now THAT'S what I call window shopping!) and hanging out chatting with the cabbies at an all night taxi stand. By 8am, the local tourist office was open and booked me a room at a reasonable rate which I was able to check into immediately for a nap. Rather than be disturbed by not having a room, it ended up being one of my most memorable nights of the trip.
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Old 12-01-06, 06:32 PM
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Crossing on the southern route without camping equipment I found that only on special ocassions was it necessary to book in advance. As cycocommute said: on holidays and weekends I always called ahead. I found that I bagan every days ride very early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise and miss some of the days wind and therefore made it to my destination by 2:00 P.M. That helped ensure that some rooms were still available. I then spent the afternoon looking around that town and left early again the next morning.
Most of the time it is the small towns with only one or two motels that can be a problem, but not always. I pulled into Tallahassee early one afternoon to discover that all of the universities in the city were holding graduation exercises that day and everything was full. Had to wait and pay big bucks for a room after a cancellation. In Phoenix after checking with several hotels and finding their asking price more than I wanted to pay I found a friendly desk clerk who made a reservation for me at a small local motel, gave me directions and sent me on my way. Good for her, and me. It is all a part of the experience.

My next trip I am going to carry a tent and sleeping bag, although I do not intend to use them. For those 100+mile legs when it is HOT and only one hotel waiting, it will give me a different perspective. I can sleep anywhere if I have to.
After reading all of this advice the important thing is to Just Do It.
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Old 12-01-06, 08:58 PM
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Being rather new, I've only done two tours (not couting a MS-150 ride). One was a group ride, so accomodations was already taken care of. But on the other one (my first), I called ahead just to make sure the campgrounds were open in late October. I also booked a bread-and-breakfast halfway through the tour so I could regroup. By calling ahead, I was able to chat a little with the campground owners so when I arrived, they were expecting me and they were really friendly.
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Old 12-01-06, 11:30 PM
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I am a credit card tourist. I try to book the first night in advance, but after that, no. A few years ago I flew to Zurich, rode a few hours southward, and when I was ready to quit for the day, I spent two exhausting hours, mostly riding up steep hills, trying to find reasonably priced accommodations for the night. Not fun.

When travelling this way, you need to be aware of holidays. I nearly did not find a place to stay one weekend in France because there was some national holiday that I was not aware of. Every hotel and inn was full; but I got talking to the owners of an inn, and after ten minutes of chit chat, they phoned one of their neighbours who was happy to put us up.
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Old 12-02-06, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by lighthorse@eart
My next trip I am going to carry a tent and sleeping bag, although I do not intend to use them.
Man, that's a lot of weight to carry for something you don't intend to use.

I've had only one experience when I couldn't get a room on my own while on a bike tour. A friend and I were bike touring Estonia and planned to spend the night in the city of Tartu. When we arrived, there was a soccer tournament in town and there were no rooms to be had anywhere. As luck would have it, I had made acquaintance with the president of Vanta Aga, the Estonian bicycle club. He rode with us around town and found an older couple who took us in for the night -with breakfast- for about seven bucks apiece. It was a thrill to be able to stay in a private home and learn about the family and their lifestyle, see family pictures, have typical Estonian meals, experience the culture, etc. Rather than a problem, not finding a hotel room ended up being an opportunity.
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