I am planning a road trip from seattle to crater lake, oregon. I want to know if I have to book motels in advance? ideally i don't want to do this because i don't know how much distance i will be able to cover each day.

also does anyone have suggestions how to get most out of a 6 day trip? how to plan, what places to visit, where to stay? we are a party of 3 adults and we plan to drive max 200 mi on any given day (edit: this can go up to maybe 300mi; i really don't know). we have already been to portland and done sightseeing there + have been to multnomah falls.

1 Answer 1


In general, no, you don't have to, particularly if you're just looking for a bed for one night, and aren't terribly picky.

That said, the later you choose to pull off the road - particularly in peak travel season - the more likely you are to be greeted by that dreaded "No Vacancy" sign. (Or, in nicer establishments, a polite refusal at the front desk.)

My typical MO when driving long distances, is to pull off the road at a rest stop or town about 2-3 hours before I intend to stop driving for the day; (in my case, this is usually right around the time the sun is getting low enough in the sky to blind me if I'm driving west, so I can wait it out; otherwise, around Sunset.) Then, I'll use my Smartphone (or, if I'm running low tech for some reason, a payphone at a rest stop and a map), to look up hotels that are about ~100 miles further along the road from where I am, and book a room online before continuing my drive. This gives me the flexibility to book same day for wherever I end up, while avoiding the occasional frustration of showing up at 9 PM to no rooms for 50 miles in any direction on a Friday night, followed by sleeping in the car in a parking lot (it's happened to me. It sucks.). All of the major US chains have pretty decent mobile sites that are geared towards exactly this sort of use. I find the IHG (Holiday Inn et al), and Best Western apps are particularly good for looking a little bit ahead along a highway. YMMV.

Keep in mind that in some cases, booking further in advance can give you access to better pricing or promotions, but you give up flexibility to do so.

  • 1
    As an added note, given your specific route: You might just want to book in advance, given that you have a clear halfway point in Portland where, even if you could drive further in one day, you can get a nice hotel, and enjoy a great meal in a high quality restaurant in a great city (and a leisurely brunch the next day), rather than just settling for whatever is off the highway at the halfway point between Portland and Crater Lake. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 16:02
  • thanks. i don't have a data plan so can't use my mobile to book on same day.
    – morpheus
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 16:41
  • 1
    @morpheus lots of rest stops, as well as roadside restaurants like McDonalds offer free wi-fi. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 16:49
  • I've got an (iPhone) app called "Hotel Tonight". Have yet to use it in anger, but it might be useful for you. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 21:11
  • @Spehro mainly only useful in and around large urban centers IME. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 21:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .