Top Tips for Finding Hotels Along a Route (2024)

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When you’re hitting the road as often as I do—regularly booking hotels multiple times a month—you pick up more than a few tricks for finding hotels along a route. Whether I’m weaving through bustling cities or cruising down tranquil country roads, I’ve mastered the art of pinpointing the perfect hotels that make every trip just right.

Read on as I share my top tips for finding hotels along a route that not only meet your needs but also enhance your travel experience. Let’s dive into some strategies that have transformed the way I choose my pit stops, making each journey smoother and more enjoyable.

courtyard hotel room in Plainfield Indiana

1. Planning Ahead

Although some of my trips are on the fly (I’ve booked more than one hotel room while driving to the destination), in general I find that planning ahead gives you the most choices. And by planning ahead, (unless you are going to a major tourist destination at the peak of travel time), I just mean at least a few weeks before your trip.

By planning your hotel stops in advance, you’ll be able to budget appropriately and you’ll have the widest range of potential hotels to choose from. This is key if you are a fan of a particular brand or want to be in a certain location.

2. Setting Your Criteria

Next, you’ll want to set your criteria. A few things to consider are:


How much do you want to spend? Are you up for spending more for a bougie stay? Or is this trip bare bones and you need to keep the costs down?


What is important to you? Do you want a hotel with free breakfast (or even a free happy hour)? Are your kids with you and do they really want a pool? Do you plan on eating in your room for some meals so need at least a fridge and microwave? Are you bringing your pet? Make a list of all the things that are important so that when you start searching you can narrow down the hotel choice to the one that meets your needs best.


Is this just a quick overnight stay along the highway? Or do you plan on stopping to explore for a day or two? Are you okay with paying for parking or would you rather stay outside a city center for free parking?

Kimpton Hotel room n New Orleans

3. Utilizing Technology

Embracing technology can seriously streamline the hotel-hunting process when you’re on the move. I’ve got a few favorite apps that I always use. For starters, mobile apps like or Trivago not only help you snag those last-minute deals but also keep you updated with real-time availability and prices—perfect for when plans are fluid. Finding a hotel along your route using Google Maps is also a terrific option.

Don’t forget to turn on notifications; these apps often send out alerts for price drops that can save you a bundle. Plus, using tools that provide real-time updates means you’re always in the know, never having to settle for less than the best deal out there.

I also always check the various chain hotel apps to see if I can get a better deal when booking directly. And don’t forget to check pricing for AAA or AARP if you have those options. All of these options (mobile apps and hotel chains) have map views, so you can open up the map and see if the hotel is truly along your route.

hotel pool

4. Reading Reviews

I have two “secret” tips that always help me find the best hotels in any location. The first is that I call the hotel that I’m interested in directly and ask when it was last remodeled. If it’s been a while I cross it off my list – odds are the decor is dated and the furnishing worn.

My second tip is to read reviews of the hotel. I find most of my hotel reviews on, TripAdvisor, or even Yelp. It’s important to not only look at the rating of each hotel but also to at least look at the most recent reviews.

If you see lots of reviews with cleanliness concerns, you should be concerned with cleanliness. If I see ANY review with bugs (especially bed bugs) I immediately eliminate that hotel – it’s a definite red flag.

If you want, you can filter the bad reviews to see if there is some sort of consistency among them. Often I find they aren’t specific to the property but more to the service, so take that into consideration based upon what you want out of your hotel stay (for example if this is a quick overnight on a road trip, I don’t need 5-star service, I just need clean!).

bed in a hotel room with lots of pillows

5. Looking for Deals

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Traveling during off-peak times can be a serious money-saver. I’ve found that hitting the road when others typically don’t—think mid-week or off-season—often means cheaper hotel rates and less crowded spots.

Also, if you’re not already signed up for a hotel’s rewards program, you might be missing out on some great perks and discounts. I am signed up for all of the major chains – even if I only stay at them a few times a year, sometimes it will help me get a few dollars of the rack rate.

And for the spontaneous travelers out there, last-minute booking apps (like Trivago) are your best friend. They specialize in deep discounts for bookings made on the fly, which can be perfect when your travel plans are as flexible as your destination. If you can’t find what you want there, try calling the hotel directly. Most of the time their rates are the same as online, but every once in a while I’ll get a front desk person to give me a fantastic last-minute deal!

6. Safety First

Safety is non-negotiable when I’m choosing a hotel along my route. I always start by checking the safety ratings and security measures of any potential stops. It’s also crucial to look into the safety of the area around the hotel. A quick search can tell you a lot about the neighborhood, and sometimes, local forums or travel blogs give real insights that are more current than traditional reviews. And if you arrive someplace and it doesn’t feel safe, just leave – it’s not worth the risk.

Hotel room with murphy bed at a Disney resort

7. Making Reservations

I prefer to pay a little more and make a reservation that can be canceled up to the day before we stay at the hotel. The cost is typically only $5 to $10 extra and for me, the peace of mind is worth it. However, if you know you’ll be staying there for sure, by all means, save a little money and book a non-cancelable rate.

As for booking directly with the hotel versus using a third-party booking site, I just go with whatever is least expensive. Unless I’m trying to complete some type of points promo with the hotel chain, I don’t care enough to have to book directly. One caveat though – if you run into problems with your reservation it is much easier to deal with if you booked with the hotel directly – you won’t have to go through the third party for resolution

8. Preparing for Changes

No matter where you book, make sure you have a plan B. Know what the cancellation terms are for the hotel you selected, and know a few other hotels in the area in case the one you booked won’t work for your needs. Since you did a little research early on to find the perfect hotel, you’ll probably have that info handy!

hotel room in Vero Beach Florida

Conclusion: Top Tips for Finding Hotels Along a Route

Wrapping up this journey of finding hotels along your route, I hope these tips and tricks help streamline your travel planning as much as they’ve helped mine. Over the years, refining these strategies has made every road trip an adventure to look forward to, not just a logistical challenge to manage. Whether you’re planning ahead or making stops on the fly, I hope my experience helps you find that perfect place to rest and recharge.

Remember, the right hotel can elevate your travel experience, turning a simple stopover into a memorable part of your trip. So use technology to your advantage, keep an eye out for those sweet deals, and never compromise on safety. Happy travels, and may your road be as exciting as the destinations you explore!


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