Lodging Info

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Sometimes a warm shower, a hot meal and some time away from the trail are good "pick me up's" when long distance hiking. Below are some tidbits that I have picked up over the years regarding staying in hotels, motels, B&B's, hostels, etc. before, during or after a backpacking trip.

Whenever I have had to travel a long way to get to the beginning of a long distance hiking or backpacking trip, I have usually stayed in a motel the night before the trip started. The reasons are that I wanted to get a good nights sleep before the big hike, I wanted to check my gear before the big hike to make sure that I had everything and I just wanted to pamper myself the night before a big hike.

Now, in some cases, when there was no motel close by, I have camped at a campground close to a long distance hiking trail that I planned to hike. Or occassionally, I have either driven to or have been dropped off at a trailhead, have hiked in a short distance, set up camp and then started my long distance hike the next day. It's best to do what's best for you when staying somewhere before you start a long distance hike.

If you are going to take advantage of lodging before a hike why not try to get the best price available? Here are some things that I have done in the past:
  • Ask for a discount. Often, if you ask for a discount, the person at the front desk of a motel will just give it to you. I'll never forget the time that myself and another hiker stayed in a small motel the night before a hike. The motel was run by a lady with the last name of Patel. Having sold TV's to motels in the past, I knew that the Patels were very good negotiators. So when checking in at this motel and asking about the price a smile came upon her face. It was like she was looking forward to the negotiation. She was good as we only got the price of the room reduced by $10.
  • Most lodging establishments offer loyalty cards that let you get some decent discounts at their motels if you sign up in advance and carry their card with you. Most of the time these loyalty cards are free outright or after you stay at one of their motels.
  • AAA will get you a discount at many motels as well as at campgrounds. AAA does charge a yearly fee. But you may already have a AAA card for your vehicle for towing and road service.
  • Both Good Sam and Passport America offer 10% or 50% off respectively to RV'ers at campgrounds. These discounts also apply to tent camping in some cases. There is a yearly fee for these cards.
  • I once worked for an I.T. department of a travel agency. Since I was in the travel agency business, I was able to get a card for a small fee that got me discounts up to 70% off on things like Amtrak or at most major hotel chains. It was basically a travel agent discount. The catch is that you have to be in the travel business to get the card to get the discount.
  • If you are going to be hiking with other people get them to go in on the room with you. That should reduce the price by 50% or more.
  • Use one of those hotel booking web sites such as Trivago or KAYAK. But be careful. Sometimes, you can get a better discount by calling the hotel directly as opposed to going through a hotel booking web site.
OK, so you've spent the night somewhere and are ready to start your hike. There are some some long distance trails that can go for between fifty and one hundred and fifty miles with no road crossings or services. I read a book recently about a couple that hiked the Continental Devide Trail. It was called A Long Way From Nowhere: A Couple's Journey on the Continental Divide Trail. At 3,100 miles it is one of the most remote trails in the United States. They went for weeks without seeing any civilization. But they would eventually get to a road crossing, which led to a town and a motel. Or at least some way of getting to one.

On my AT section hikes I would sometimes go as long as 10 or 11 days on the trail before I would get to a town with either a hostel, a motel, a B&B or someone's house that took in hikers. I found that taking that break once a week recharged me and gave me renewed determination to keep going. Though some trail purists would argue that you should stay on the trail I contend that it's no sin to try and make your hike a bit easier any way that you can. In my opinion, in most sections, the AT is nothing more than a series of week long hikes with a break in a town or at a lodging establishment of some sort.

I once stayed at the Inn at Long Trail near Killington, VT. Great place. It was raining when I checked in. I stayed there 2 days consuming Long Trail Ale, steaks and Bleu Burgers. It rained the entire time that I was there. On the third day I had to get out of there. So I headed north on the AT, again in the pouring rain. I had similar scenarios to this numerous times during my section hiking on the Appalachian Trail. They made for great memories. So if you can afford to utilize lodging during long distance hikes, I encourage you to do so.

When you get to the end of a long distance hike you can again either utilize lodging services or just go directly home. I have done both. One time, after a long distance hike I drove directly home. On the way home I stopped at a Hardees Restaurant for something to eat. I had that hiker stench after being in the woods for a week or so. While I was standing in line some people came up behind me. One of them yelled 'Woah!' and took a step backwards. I guess I was very stinky. Maybe I should have stayed in a motel after that hike so that I could take a shower and be more presentable to civilized society. Or at least found a place to shower.

Know of any other good lodging information tidbits? If so, please Contact Me with that information as well as any corrections. I'll give you credit for the contribution.

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