Road trip in California Coast
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Feb 14, 2013 1:47 PM Last Post By: living2
Feb 13, 2013 9:52 AM
Road trip in California CoastHello,
I'm planning a road trip to California for a month in March and April 2013. The projected itininéraire is: all the Pacific coast, the Oregon border in the north to San Diego in the south. There will be three. I am 50 years old and I will be with my parents who are 75 years old. We are from Quebec, Canada.
Our budjet is very limited. We want to accommodate in hotels or motels cheapest possible, even in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego.
We do not want to stay in hostels.
I know most of the research sites for motels, but sometimes I feel that it is not all hotels that are displayed.
Is there anyone who could suggest me research sites for cheap accommodation in California, or simply suggestions for hotels or motels very cheap, especially in big cities?
Thank you for your help!
Feb 13, 2013 10:49 AM
1Without know which hotel search sites you're using, I can answer that I've found most of them to include motels that are at the low end of what I'd consider acceptable for a tourist, and some that I'd consider unacceptable. Sure, there are worse accommodations in major cities -- for example, single-room occupancy hotels that cater to people who are homeless much of the time but can afford to pay for a roof when they receive their benefits checks. I would not encourage my 75-yr-old parents to stay there, nor yours.
Major cities are expensive places to stay. If your budget doesn't allow you to stay in a minimally-safe motel in major cities, consider motels in suburbs outside the city.
Feb 13, 2013 11:21 AM
2The budget motels usually recommended on this forum are Motel 6 (it is so popular here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that there are now 4 separate locations along the main highway in town, which is the original Route #66); Quality Inn, which includes a large, buffet breakfast, exercise room, and sometimes a swimming pool; La Quinta motel. The Super 8 motel is sometimes located in a dodgie area of a city, as I have noticed. There are also the Holiday Inn Express and Marriott, which are a little more expensive. Most of these motels are located in larger cities and popular resorts.
Feb 13, 2013 2:31 PM
3For cheap but clean and friendly motels you want the locally owned and operated "mom and pop" style motels. The only way to find these is by physically driving to them. They are located on the "old" highway leading in and out of towns (not the interstate). If it is a big town like San Francisco, this old hwy will be in the suburbs. So look on the map for a major road that seems to be leading in and out of a town and just cruise that. Do it early enough in the afternoon that you are not desperate. You won't usually find them in online directories because they simply cannot afford it or perhaps the owners don't have the marketing/internet savvy to manage that kind of marketing. Instead they have big signs at the road listing their rates and other selling points like free breakfast, WIFI, etc.
For example, last year we were following Hwy 1 down the coast of California. We stuck with #1 through San Francisco. This brought us to Redwood City, a suburb of San Francsco. We found a great little motel for $35 per night for 2 that included a huge breakfast, free WIFI, spotlessly clean, safe neighbourhood.
These old motels are often bought up by new immigrants who work very hard at providing great value. On Hwy #1 there were lots of these.
I have found the Budget and Motel 8s to be expensive for what you get and very sterile. The chains always are.
Feb 13, 2013 3:07 PM
4As others have noted, you will generally find cheap but safe and comfortable motels outside cities -- either on the outskirts or in the suburbs. You will need a car to get to them, but it sounds like you will have one. The downside to them is that if you actually want to go into a city, you'll either have to drive (and thus park, which costs a lot of money), or take public transportation in (which may not be ideal for 75-year-old parents). And you'll have to do this every day you want to go into the city. Not a big deal for visiting smaller cities, but definitely a big deal for the larger ones.
However, you can also usually find at least a couple cheap(er) hotels or motels inside major cities that are still safe and comfortable. I have always found TripAdvisor to be pretty good about identifying good value hotels. The reviews there are usually pretty accurate concerning value, safety, and convenience. So, for example, search for San Francisco hotels, and while the first 30 results may be way out of your price range, number 31 might be a bargain and worth reserving. Or maybe you won't find something in your price range until you hit number 100. But if the reviews seems promising enough to you, then you should go for it, knowing full well what you are getting yourself into.
Note, though, that because word gets out about the "bargain" motels/hotels, they are often booked up well in advance. So you should start your research and planning now (if it is not too late).
Feb 13, 2013 3:15 PM
5Also, I will respectfully disagree with #3. In this day and age, unless I was truly desperate (e.g., running out of gas), I would be skeptical of just driving up to/patronizing an independent motel/hotel that does not have at least some sort of basic internet presence or, at the very least, reviews on a major site like TripAdvisor. That is especially the case if I were traveling with elderly parents. I'm sure there are some hidden gems out there, but it is not worth the potential downside of a truly awful experience, for you or your parents. Research before you book, and then book wisely.
Feb 14, 2013 1:06 PM
6I must respectfully disagree with #3
"For example, last year we were following Hwy 1 down the coast of California. We stuck with #1 through San Francisco. This brought us to Redwood City, a suburb of San Francsco. We found a great little motel for $35 per night for 2 that included a huge breakfast, free WIFI, spotlessly clean, safe neighbourhood."
Highway 1 does not go to Redwood City. Highway 1 is on the coast. You were probably on old Highway 101, El Camino Real, which was the main highway until the 40's and 50's when the current 101 was built bypassing the towns along old 101.
Feb 14, 2013 1:47 PM
7johnsang ..probably. We wove back and forth between 1 and 101. So I am sure you are right.
gwahicks ...internet research does not tell the whole story. I am a woman in her 60s who travels 6 months of the year. I do the tripadvisor, hostelbooker, asiarooms, etc thing internationally. And I have lots of examples of rooms that looked really fine online ...and came up short, filthy, dangerous in person. It is the reason that, except for the first night, on arrival, I no longer book most rooms in advance. I just look on city map in LP for the accomodation district, go there and pick one in person. Speaking of which,specific LP recommendations can be the WORST because once they get listed in LP everyone shows up. First the price goes up then the quality drops like a stone.
However when we are traveling in North America, we find great little mom and pop motels all the time. The true test of whether a place will meet your needs/standards is when you walk in the door. That is what we do. Ask for the key and go look at the room before paying. I pull down the sheets and check for bed bug evidence, sniff the air etc .... If I don't like it I move on. Harder to do when you've pre-booked and paid in advance.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$169.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$179.00 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$11.59 per night