My new MSNBC column (via Tripso) is out now, called Reservations About Making Reservations. Of course the majority of backpackers go for months or a year finding rooms on the fly without even thinking about it, but from the comments I’ve gotten already on Tripso, you’d think I proposed some radical idea that’s going to upset the new world order.
The lead-off of it is that I’m going to Zihuatanejo, Mexico in October with my family and we’re not choosing our hotel in advance. Egads! What an idiot! Never mind that I’ve done this at least 200 times in my life and only three or four times has it been a disaster. I can point to plenty of times my web reservation has been a fiasco though and the hotel was far from what it was cracked up to be. I’ve found memorable hotels both ways, of course, and either approach can work well in different situations. It just seems to me that real eyes on the ground are more reliable than what “travelinmama457” says on TripAdvisor.
The second part of this story is that I have some friends who took a two-week family trip to Greece this summer with absolutely no hotel reservations beyond the first night. They went in early June, before the crowds, when you could do this with no occupancy worries. In the end though, they found lots of lovely hotels that were a super bargain. Some of them weren’t on any website or in any guidebook. And that was a touristy country! “One hotel was just so-so for the price,” they told me. They had gotten to that town as the sun was going down and didn’t get a good look at it. But otherwise, they felt like they hit a home run every time.
What about you? Has the extra time you’ve taken to look around here and there allowed you to find a better deal in person than you could have found in the same amount of time surfing the web? Are you a contrarian traveler or is the thought of touching down without full reservations too uncomfortable to fathom?
[flickr photo by pbo31]