We have additional lodging considerations as seniors. Here are our 8 Tips for Choosing Lodging as a Senior.
Tip 1: Research before you leave home.
Trip Advisor and Expedia are our go-to resources for lodging research. We are not fancy people. However, Stu is definitely not into camping. Hostels and low budget hotels are out. We feel that since we are retired, there is a purpose for the money we saved and one use is to be comfortable!
Stu is a member of AAA and often asks his local office for lodging recommendations. Keep in mind, however, that AAA gets a kick-back from hotels and may not tell you about a fantastic place to stay. The same is true of travel agencies.
Most hotel chains offer senior discounts. Know which ones they are! See our post, “2018 Travel Discounts for Seniors.“
Tip 2: Obtain a frequent guest membership for large hotel/motel chains before you leave home.
For example, we happen to like Best Western hotels. Stu has memberships and receives points for staying with Best Western or Marriott. Points will eventually build up to free lodging. As you travel, make the hotels where you have a membership your first choice. There will, of course, be towns that don’t have one of the hotels with which you have a membership. We don’t mind when that happens. It’s always nice to try something new!
Tip 3: Set criteria for choosing lodging that meet your individual needs and wants. Do this before you leave home.
Our criteria look like this:
1) Hotels with 3-4 day in advance cancellation policies in case our trip is postponed for any reason.
2) Hotels that don’t require room pre-payment. (We don’t mind credit card holds for rooms, but, as seniors, we want to keep earning interest on our money ourselves up until trip time instead of hotels using it ahead of time). We are budget conscious.
3) Free Wifi
4) Available ground floor rooms.
5) Rooms with a desk and large enough for post-processing photos and editing videos at night.
6) Breakfast included in the room price.
7) Proximity to dinner spots.
8) Amenities if we hit a rainy day and can’t work and play outside.
9) Laundry facilities, if possible.
10) Hotels where one of us has a membership or discount card.
11) Fitness Center, if possible.
You will probably have different criteria. For example, safety concerns for some might include having a room with an inside hallway entrance rather than a door to the outside of the hotel leading to a parking lot.
Tip 4: Reserve a room before you arrive in any city/town.
We actually don’t reserve rooms far in advance unless the destination is a high-traffic location like New Orleans or the Grand Canyon. We don’t like being locked into arrival by a certain date. We never know when a fascinating backroad may lead us to an unexpected destination. (We know, this would drive some folks crazy) Obviously, in high tourist-traffic areas, having set reservations is essential.
If you tend to wander like we do, wait to make room reservations until you have been driving for a few hours. You’ll have a better idea where you’ll be by dinner time. Our guideline is, “When we start to become tired on the road, it is time to get online!”
Tip 5: Make room reservations online.
Ask GPS or google for hotels in the town where you’ll be stopping. Online rates are often cheaper than regular rates. There is almost always a “deal of the day.”
IF you have a membership or discount card, websites allow you to plug in that number when you reserve a room. There is always an online comment section so you can add any special requirements. For us, that means asking for ground-floor rooms so we don’t drag bags and equipment up any stairs or elevators. Some travelers feel safer in upper-floor rooms.
There are times when we actually arrive at our choice for lodging two minutes after reserving rooms online. It is wonderful to avoid standing in line when you are tired. Online reservations let you slide right into a reserved bed!
Tip 6: Arrive before dinner.
This tip isn’t for everybody and, admittedly, isn’t always possible. Make an effort to arrive early enough to arrive in daylight for safety’s sake.
Get belongings to your room, take a pit stop and then go to dinner. This allows you to wind down over a leisurely meal instead of stressing about where you will be spending the night.
Tip 7: Complete and return any lodging follow-up surveys.
This gets you more membership points with many chains, folks! Aside from that, proprietors need feedback to improve your next experience. Surveys will reach you via email and are simple to fill out.
Tip 8: Enjoy Yourself!
This seems obvious. Take the time to actually enjoy your lodging choice. We have met staff people from overseas who are experiencing America for the first time. By the time we left one hotel, we felt like we had two “adopted” daughters from the Philippines!
Unless photographing sunrises, we each like to sleep in, have a quiet breakfast to plan our day and leave by 9 -10 a.m. Everyone’s travel style is different so develop yours and enjoy every aspect of your travel!
This is just the beginning…what are your tips for selecting lodging? Use the comment section and share what you have learned.