Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Unique Budget Lodging

No, this is not what I have in mind!
I wrote this article in 2009, but David's and my trip through northern Arizona made me realize it's still just as relevant today.  Especially along the Mother Road, Route 66, unique and inexpensive motels abound, but these lodgings are also waiting to welcome you along America's other byways.
The Desert Sun looks inviting.
If you're looking for something special at a price that's usually half that of chain motels, be sure to look for these mom and pop places.  Here's the 2009 article.              
About five years ago, I traveled across country staying at some of the cheapest and most interesting motels in the United States. These are the small-town, forgotten motels with names like the Dew Drop Inn or the Wigwam; the ones that were on a major highway before the Interstate system bypassed them. Here you will find unique floor plans and, sometimes, astonishing color schemes. I'll never forget the place in Kansas with a grass-green bedroom and a Pepto Bismol-pink tiled bathroom! But, regardless of the décor, one consistent feature of all these motels is price. They are 50 to 75% cheaper than their counterparts on the Interstate.
Or how about spending a night at Earl's?

The owners operate these motels on a shoestring budget that does not usually allow for an Internet presence, so you may not be able to make reservations in advance. But, if you're willing to spend a few extra minutes at the end of your day's drive, you'll be richly rewarded with an inexpensive and unique motel experience.*
Love the name of this one.
When you're ready to stop driving for the day, look for a cluster of motel advertisements near an exit. Get off and pass by the chain motels flanking the Interstate and drive three to five miles into town. You should find the lower-priced, distinctive motels along what was formerly the main route through town. If you don't immediately see one or two, stop at a gas station and ask for a recommendation.
How could anyone resist this funky Florida motel?
By the way, since these motels are usually family-owned, the owners do not have to follow corporate policy and can more easily accommodate your needs. In the two weeks I spent criss-crossing the United States, no one objected to, or charged extra for, my dog.

Practicalities -

*Things have changed since I first wrote this article, and it is now possible to find many unique budget properties on the Internet.

Here's a list of all the unique motels along Route 66 in these states:  Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  Note that you can click on most of the motels for more information.

Try the Mom & Pop Motels website to locate unique motels in other parts of the country.  Be sure to read their reasons for believing independent motels are superior to chains.

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