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2017.07.17, Monday

Roaming for rooms . . .

Many cultures share common mythologies. Worldwide holidays, holy days, legends, and tales have similar themes. From ancient times to the present stories about the “golden key” or the magic doorway, speak of a perfect path to treasure or goal. For budget travelers, the golden key unlocks a hotel room that is cheap, clean, and convenient.

How do you find the golden key?

Currently, wisdom says you prowl the Internet before you pack. However, like most legends, the search for lodgings involves a quest — fraught with the potential for betrayal, cyber-dragons, and dangers. In many heroic tales, the fatal flaw of the protagonist is that he or she can not identify the goal. So, before you seek a hotel room decide what you need to have the best stay.

The “best stay” varies from person to person.

Some people can not enjoy a trip to the beach if they aren’t at an oceanfront hotel. Other people toss and turn all night if they suspect the bed and breakfast next door rents rooms at a cheaper rate. I have a distinct desire to be close to public transport — in some cities; I’ve not happy unless I’m on the right bus or subway line. For some folks the services that a hotel offers can make or break their vacation.

The Internet is full of travel search engines — how do you choose an engine, much less room?

That’s what I’m here for — over the next few weeks I’m going to review some of the hotel options on the net, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

Let’s start with the person who wants a particular level of luxury and doesn’t want to pay rack rate. If you’re traveling by air to a foreign destination, start at your airline’s web site. Most airlines have access to a less expensive rate for rooms booked in conjunction with air travel. If you are headed out of your home country and know you need particular plumbing, a modem port, or concierge services your best bet is checking with the airline, you’ll fly.

What if you are Amtrak, railing, or driving beyond the point of entry to boldly go to places your airline doesn’t fly?

Despite the cheesy opening page graphics this site is somewhat useful. I’ll admit that it was a bit of a turn off when I hit the opening page, which proudly proclaimed that you could check room rates for free. That was analogous to “fat-free” labels on lettuce as if all lettuce isn’t fat-free. Every site on the net allows you check rates for free. They are booking services. They want your business. I got over my snit and proceeded.

Traveleader does an excellent job of providing information about the listed hotels. Most of the properties have a reasonable amount of information posted, and many have pictures. You’ll certainly be able to get a fair idea of the facility from the site. However, Traveleader does not offer as many properties as other search engines. Cheap hotels aren’t listed. It did not seem as if the quirky and quaint show up here either. One warning, the hotels that were advertising “special rates” did not appear to be offering real savings. But, if you want a quality room in a strange city, this site will do the job for you.

Next week we’ll try out the golden key in several sites.

Thanks for stopping by — Happy trails.

Roaming for rooms . . .

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