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Accommodation in the USA is easy to get and generally of a high standard. The following is an outline of the differences between America and the UK.

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Accommodation basics
It is normal in the USA to pay for the accommodation, not for the number of people staying in the accommodation. Thus if you pay for a room in a hotel or motel with twin double beds, you pay the same price if one person, two people or even two adults and two children stay in the room. There can be a slight discount for one occupant or a slight extra charge if more than two adults share a room, but the basic principle holds.

This means be very suspicious about any quotes that you get for accommodation costs per person. Its a good way to rip off the unwary UK traveller to whom it seems reasonable to pay so much per person.

Expect rooms in the USA to be generally bigger than in Europe. Expect them to have air conditioning (unless you are in a mountainous area) and expect them to have TV often with cable i.e. multiple channels.

Types of accommodation
There are a number of types of accommodation in the USA.

Motels are the most common type of accommodation you are likely to use in the USA. You buy only the room. Normally accessed directly from the car park. Central facilities are limited. Maybe a pool. Maybe coffee and Danish pastries for breakfast. Some will have links to a nearby Diner or Bar.

Hotels are like we expect in the UK. You get to the room from inside rather then the car park. It will have central facilities, a bar, a restaurant. There will normally be room service if you require it.

Bed and Breakfast
Bed and Breakfast is typically not what you would expect to get in the UK. In America, these are generally upmarket and more luxurious and as a consequence more expensive than the previous two options. I often chuckle to imagine an American booking a Bed and Breakfast over here and being surprised by what they get.

Resorts or Resort Hotels
These are hotels with supercharged facilities, often sports (e.g. horse riding, golf) and shopping. As the name implies you could spend a whole holiday at one of these places. For the British traveller to the USA in summer, the resort hotels in southern Arizona around Phoenix and Tucson can offer incredible value. These resorts do most of their business in the winter months with people flying down from the frozen north to spend a week or so in the sun. This makes July and August their low season and you can get incredible deals. One of the few places on the planet it seems where the prices go up after the kids summer school holidays are over.

Pre-book or not ?
This is in many ways a personal choice. It will depend upon yourself and your own feelings and the detail of your holiday plans. Here are some of the considerations.

Without a doubt, you can set off to the States not knowing where you will stay. A noteable exception is the first night. You will need to fill out on your immigration form an address where you are staying and its best to have your first night booked whatever else you do on the holiday. If you read around the internet about peoples holidays, many people advocate the approach of finding accommodation as you go along.

On the plus side, this approach does add more of an element of the unknown to your holiday. It is easy to do and wherever you decide to stay there is likely to be a wide range of choice for you. The biggest advantage is that your itinerary is very loose. You can change your plans as you go along, skipping things you dont like and staying longer where it grabs your fancy.

On the minus side, if you are concerned about your budget, not pre-booking leaves a significant question mark about the costs of accommodation. To control the costs you will then have to visit two, three or more places in the town you have decided to stay in and compare accommodation and cost. This can easily take an hour or so. OK if you enjoy that sort of thing, an absolute waste of your holiday if dont.

My personal preference is to steer inbetween the two. Book all or most of the accommodation, but be prepared to reschedule if necessary. You can do this if you pay careful consideration to the booking conditions when you book the rooms. Usually, if you cancel before 4.00 pm on the day you are due to stay, you can cancel at no charge. Usually but not always, so please check. This allows you to rechedule on route - Remember to take all the phone numbers of where you have booked along with you. If you like a place, stay an extra night or two and ring ahead to rechedule your future nights. If you dont like a place, cancel and move on.

Site visitor comment
My trip was soley aimed at camping, rather than hotels/motels. It worked great as Americans dont really camp so there was always spaces. we used KOA and you can plan all your trip very easily using the extensive road atlas you get with them which gave every campsite in the USA and its facilties. it also kept down the cost of our trip ($8 per tent). we did break up the camping with the odd motel and a stop in Vegas. All I took was a small tent, 4 season sleeping bag and a good sleeping mat... job done and a great adventure.

Site visitor comment
Another pre-condition to booking would be if you were planning on staying somewhere busy or specialised. e.g. within the Grand Canyon or Yosemite park itself. These sort of places can fill up and alternatives can often be a long way off.

The above comment is very true, especially if you are travelling in peak times. The second time we travelled to Yellowstone National Park, we couldn't get a room in the park six months before we travelled.

Site visitor comment
Another point worth mentioning is if you go into any McDonalds, petrol station, supermarket etc and you will find the local tourist mags. These do offer overnight discounts upon presentation of the vouchers to an advertising hotel. Hotel choice can be limited but we saved $15 per night when we used these for speculative drive up bookings.

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