10 day Road Trip

By rockymountains,

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I'm going on a 10 day road trip soon. October 14-24, beginning in Omaha, Nebraska. I plan to drive west through Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and maybe Kansas.

Right now I have no plans - on purpose - because I hate being held to a strict schedule. I know approximately where I'll be every night, plus or minus a day, but not for certain.

Never used PRICELINE or HOTWIRE before so I wondered if this was possible since my itinerary isn't etched in stone. Does anyone have advice or suggestions they would like to share?

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Welcome to the site. :)

The issue with this way of booking (while "on the road") is that it may be problematic in smaller areas where PRICELINE is far lesser. With PRICELINE, if you are trying to bid same day in a small area and there are no rebid possibilities, you have one chance. Bidding last-minute is easier in larger cities.

There would not be any issues with HOTWIRE (aside from possibly having minimal selection in smaller towns), although if you were trying to book same day, it would have to be prior to 11PM local time. I believe PRICELINE is 11PM eastern time.

If you were willing to plan a few days in advance, we could help you starting around the 10th (or, of course, sooner if you decided.) Otherwise, in terms of bidding "on the road", the above would be my advice.

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The issue with this way of booking (while "on the road") is that it may be problematic in smaller areas where PRICELINE is far lesser. With PRICELINE, if you are trying to bid same day in a small area and there are no rebid possibilities, you have one chance. Bidding last-minute is easier in larger cities.

Hi Aaron, could you clarify what you mean by "priceline is far lesser" in your first sentence? Not sure if you're talking price, availability or something else.

I had someone suggest on a different forum that I find hotels at low prices and reserve 2 or 3 nights on separate reservations. Then cancel the nights I don't need. Could I do this with PRICELINE or HOTWIRE, and if so, what rules apply? I'm a little worried about getting screwed by this method, whichever way I make the reservations. i.e. wrong night gets cancelled, they double or triple charge me anyway, etc, etc.

Although I haven't looked extensively, the small towns where I might stay seem to have reasonable rates. I'm concerned most about Denver, Salt Lake City, etc.

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Oops - I meant to say, "...Where PRICELINE inventory/availability is lesser." In some small areas, PRICELINE inventory and availability can be minimal. Not an issue if you are staying in mid/large markets (SLC), although heavy traffic (if there's a convention going on) can cause price/availability issues. Without knowing dates or cities, it's difficult to say for sure.

If you'd like help booking conventionally, we would be happy to do that, as well. There are some coupons available for sites such as Orbitz or Expedia.

PRICELINE tells you whether a bid has been accepted or not moments after clicking the confirm button. If a bid is accepted, the service tells you what hotel you got, and the reservation is, at that point, locked in. PRICELINE and HOTWIRE reservations are not refundable or changeable (you cannot drop a night, for example, or change dates; a trade-off of the deeply discounted prices.) Additionally, there is no bidding on HOTWIRE, so you get confirmation as soon as you purchase the listing in question.

Please use the site's HOTWIRE or PRICELINE links, or if you book conventionally, please use the links in the support section. Thanks.

Additionally, please let us know if you have further questions or need help starting to book hotels (whether conventionally or via PRICELINE/HOTWIRE.)

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Not sure about Ebay - I've never looked at the hotel selling on Ebay. PRICELINE or HOTWIRE often offer excellent prices (in many cases as much as 40-50% off, and in some cases 50%+), and I suppose at least with those two services you are getting a confirmed reservation with the hotel itself - not sure about Ebay sellers.

There is no way to know timing w/PRICELINE or HOTWIRE. There is a realistic floor w/the prices on the services, though. If a 4* in downtown Chicago is showing for $65-75, for example, one can say that there is likely little downside on that price. Some very small markets also have limited PRICELINE inventory, so discounts may be lesser. In terms of timing though, it all depends on the dates, cities and hotel inventory - there's no guarantee that prices will be better at the last minute, and if something's going on, they could be worse. To make a long story short, guesses regarding prices are a situation-by-situation basis.

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My bad, I should have clarified my analogy - I meant Ebay in general where items' prices skyrocket in the final hours or minutes. A better comparison would have been last-minute airline tickets or rental cars sold thru traditional methods (not deal websites like we're talking about).

I guess what I'm asking is this - generally speaking, if I wait until the last 24-48 hours to reserve a room with PRICELINE / HOTWIRE, how would the prices compare if I had reserved weeks or months earlier? No difference?

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Ah, okay. There could be a better price at the last minute for one situation and a much worse price in another situation - one has to really look at the price environment for the specific dates in question and then go from there. I've helped a good deal of people who got a better price by waiting, but I've helped a lot of people who thought they could wait until the last minute and then were frantic at the last minute when they realized all the prices that they had seen had gone up substantially and they wished they had booked at the earlier, cheaper rates. In larger cities, rates can vary substantially from one day to the next.

There's no hard/fast rules in terms of prices being cheaper in advance or cheaper last minute - it can go either way.

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One VERY loose rule of thumb that might be helpful is that you usually can do a LITTLE (maybe 10%) better via PRICELINE bidding than via HOTWIRE. Thus, if you looked up your next city in Hotwire and saw offerings at your desired star level at maybe $100, you at least have a fair chance of getting a successful bid on Priceline at $90. That might give you a starting point for your bidding. And what Hotwire is doing over a couple of day leading up to your stay might also give you an idea of prices in general (but not necessarily). It really is a loose situation, totally market driven.

I've read of a guy just bidding ahead of time one day at a time. He also would get out a map and consider various cities/towns in an area where he was headed. Thus, you might plan to drive anywhere from 400 to 600 miles, so along that 200 mile range (and even off the route a little) you might have a choice of several cities in which to bid. The guy swore it worked quite nicely. And no, I don't remember where I read it.

I suspect if you actually execute this plan, lots of other members would be interesting in hearing your results - even as you do it. I've always been tempted to drive Route 66 that way, and also would love to take grandkids on a wandering rambling old-fashioned road trip.

Hope this trip works for you!


PS - It is always a good idea to have some sort of back-up reservations if things just aren't working.

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Priceline tends to be great for large cities at high star levels. The results for small towns are more iffy, and the savings may or may not be there. Also, with small towns, it might be the case, for example, that a 2* Fairfield Inn is quite fine, but that there are also really awful 2* places, and you will not have the option of bidding at higher star levels to avoid them.

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Thanks for the advice.

I just thought of a potentially major problem for my trip. Baseball playoffs are approaching. The Colorado Rockies will most likely win the NL wildcard and be in the playoffs. If they win the first round (NLDS), the league championship (NLCS) runs October 15-24. Being the wildcard team, they would play in Denver on October 18th, 19th, and if necessary, the 21st. The same days I'll be in Colorado unless I totally rearrange the trip.

I'd like to think this won't happen, but the Rockies suprised everybody in 2007.

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Well, one suggestion would be to stay outside the city. I'm not familiar with how Denver is set-up, but Chicago has quite a few 'burbs, which are often less/considerably less expensive when the city itself is busy. The outlying areas are quite nice and offer transit into the city - not sure if Denver is the same way.

Just looked at Denver/HOTWIRE for 18th-21st and prices don't seem unusual - a 4* in downtown for $75 and outlying area (a 3.5* in the Tech Center area for $52) for less.

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