I am planning a trip from Seattle to Glacier National Park. We will need to stay at a motel as the entire journey cannot be done in one day. Rather than make advance reservations at a motel, we are thinking of doing a walk-in but are concerned if we will end up paying more than if we make reservation in advance.

Could anyone who has been in this type of situation guide us as to what is the best thing to so?

  • This trip certainly can be done in one day. – Michael Hampton Jul 11 '16 at 22:38
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    @MichaelHampton, without traffic, Seattle to West Glacier is eight hours, Seattle to St. Mary is ten hours, and Seattle to Many Glacier is eleven hours. Yes, it can be done, but it's a very, very long drive. – Mark Jul 12 '16 at 1:51
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    I finally did this trip. We stayed in Coeur 'd Alene while going and drove from West Glacier to Seattle while returning without staying at a motel in between. The entire return trip took us about 10 hours in which we spent 100-120 mins taking breaks so @Mark is dead right when he says without traffic and driving non-stop, Seattle to West Glacier is eight hours. – morpheus Aug 30 '16 at 19:25

It is unlikely you would pay a lower rate for a walk-in at any hotel or motel. Whether or not the walk-in rate is higher depends on many factors and your problem is that you won't know until you arrive.

However, during summer travel season, price is not the primary concern, it's availability. You should make a reservation to guarantee you have a room.

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    Second this. A couple of weeks ago I ran into this--no sane priced hotel rooms in town. I ended up driving on two hours beyond the intended stop to find a place to sleep. Since it was merely an overnight stop it wasn't that big a deal. – Loren Pechtel Jul 11 '16 at 21:51
  • The question is not about whether I can get a lower price by walking in but rather if will I end up paying much more (>20%) if I don't book in advance. There are 2 big cities midway - Spokane and Coeur d Alene. Its hard to believe that everything will be sold out in both locations. – morpheus Jul 12 '16 at 4:05
  • I understand your question exactly and the answer is the same. Why can't you just make the reservation? Hotels don't charge a cancel fee 48 and sometimes 24hrs ahead. – Johns-305 Jul 12 '16 at 13:43
  • Yes that is what I did after I saw that I could cancel for full refund if I cancel more than 24 hrs in advance. Thanks – morpheus Jul 12 '16 at 22:00

You will find small motels & hotels at interchanges all along the highway (assuming you are following I-90 most of the way). Most of these motels will have rooms available for walk ins, unless you are traveling on a major holiday period like Labor Day Weekend. The prices for walk in will be about the same as advance booking.

If you aim for the bigger cities, like Spokane or Coeur d'Alene, then you may find better prices booking in advance for the hotels in town, but not much difference at the highway motel chains.

Once you have decided you have driven enough you could use the big booking sites, like booking.com or hotels.com, to look at nearby hotels to see what they might have. Then either book online or walk in and show the quoted price to the front desk. Most hotels will match the online price if it is lower than their standard walk in price.

  • If you are an elite-level of a frequent guest program, you can sometimes get a better rate than someone who is not. – Mark Stewart Jul 13 '16 at 3:14

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