Choosing the right hotel

Booking a hotel isn’t a simple task. It’s not go online, find a hotel and book it.

So in December I’m thinking of going away for a little time. This would be my first time leaving the country (excluding the US) on my own. So I will be planning my own vacation, paying for it etc. Finding a good flight is pretty easy, finding one with a good hotel to go with it, is a whole other kettle of fish.

I find when you’re going to certain countries or cities you can rough it and stay at a motel or a 2 star motel or something like that. But certain countries or cities, nothing against them, but you don’t want to go to anything below a 4 star. You just don’t want to risk it. To make matters worse, my parents would absolutely have a cow if I told them I was going back to Jamaica and staying at a motel somewhere off a left turn of Timbuktu.

In Jamaica, I will be heading to either Ochio Rios, Runaway Bay or Montego Bay. Yes, I am not sure where yet because of pricing when I am going to get my ticket. I am currently waiting for my friend to get her passport straight and then we can decide together. But it seems the closer you are to a tourist destination the more expensive it is.  There are so many things to look into when choosing a hotel.

  • Is it around spring break time? And will there be a bunch of college age kids running around and partying?
  • How many stars is it? Are you good with staying at anything below a four star?
  • How accessible is the hotel? Do you have a to climb a massive hill then to the tenth floor because they decided they won’t be putting in elevators? (this happened to me a few years ago. They refuse to put elevators in because the hotel was in a historical building – *eye-roll*) – how close to the action is your hotel?
  • If its a little bit of a drive, do they have access to licensed cabs.
  • Is it all inclusive? And by all-inclusive I mean, do you get all your drinks and food included?
  • If you’re a person who is joined at the hips to social network, does this hotel have free wi-fi?
  • Is the hotel in a safe place?
  • What are other people saying about this hotel and its staff?
  • Is there a secure safe in the hotel that you can leave your things?

And those are just some of the questions you need to ask. It may sound like a bunch and I’m being obsessive but you want to make sure you do enough on your end to have an amazing time away.  And sure, you may say why do I care? I just need to sleep there and leave my stuff there!Valid points but when you do go to sleep you want to make you are comfortable.

Views – Jamaica Inn

Picking a hotel should be something to do based on your personality as well. If you go to a party hotel when you’re a reader that wouldn’t end very well because you would have no quiet time at all.  If you go to a hotel that caters to adventure seekers, that is not a good fit either. For people like me, the romantics. We love the thought of being in love and being in love with. We need a hotel with spectacular views of the ocean by day and the city at nights. I want a hotel with places I can wander on the property and just dream while breathing. So scenic trails and beach views during dimmer is super important. I will post more on the Jamaica Inn in another post but this hotel has all of that it seems.

The next time you look for a place to stay, look into it and make sure it caters to you.




Hotel Alternatives

Travelling is such a wonderful retreat. Whether we love adventure or just a quiet time away, we love getting on a plane, a bus, in a car and just going.  These days, in this economy, we want the most out of our money without it costing an arm and a leg. We want the Taj Mahal at a hostel price–well you know what I mean.

The truth of the matter is, hotels can be crazy expensive.

Sometimes you book your hotel and it cost more than your flight and you think, wow, I just cranked out three grand for a place to stay for three days, paid close to two grand for the flight here and to go home and now I have to find money for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

What gives?

Okay, so this article is to give you a few alternatives to the expense of a hotel.  Hostels will not be included (for now) in this article because that requires more research on my end.

The most obvious alternative is Camping. If you are the outdoor type and you like sleeping in a tent etc, then try this alternative. No, you can’t just set up a tent in the middle of nowhere or anywhere you wish and just go to sleep. You have to find reputable camp sites. I’m not much of a camper myself but you can try this site for information or try the Ontario Camp Site website.

If you are travelling within Ontario, try a bed and breakfast, especially if you’re just staying for a night then hitting the road again the next day. B and B Canada is a good resource to find a bed and breakfast that is licensed.  Personally, I’ve used this website twice, once for my birthday weekend away in June of 2012 with a couple of friends and my sister and once again for my road trip in August with my friend. So far I have yet to be disappointed.

The Bed and Breakfast alternative is inexpensive and they not only give you a bed, but they give you breakfast in the morning and cut down on expenses in that respect.  Try not to stay at one in the centre of town (if you have a car) since those cost more. And as usual, Research the B and B before you book your room(s).

Today, many people have investment properties. Rather than left the property sit and turn to dust or lease the property out, many have the idea to use it as a rental home for vacationers. It’s only a bit cheaper than a hotel and some allows you to cook your own food. I have been doing some research on this alternative and so far I’ve found two really good websites Airnub and Home Away  I have yet to use these sites for my accommodations, but go and look around and make your own decisions.



Road Trip – Ariba!

Twenty Dollar Bill – Photograph by Foxy Girl – Dreamstime.com

Perhaps its a girl’s right of passage or something equally as nerdy, but at a certain age, every girl has this urge to get a girlfriend, or two, get enough junk food to feed a small nation, get in a car, gas it up and burn rubber to nowhere in particular. Maybe you did plan this trip or maybe it was just a whim but either way you have your best girl power tunes (including Cyndi Lauper’s Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun – of course) blaring, sunglass blinging, windows down with the wind blowing through your hair.

But there are so many things to consider before you can speed off down the road, honking the horn while holding your hat out the window screaming, “Aribaaaaa!”

First, everything we do in this world cost money. It’s sad but it’s true. Everything we do, even when we think it’s free. So the first thing you need is a little money for the necessities–food, place to stay, gas, etc.

You have to figure out where you want to go. After all, just getting in your car and driving isn’t necessarily the right way to go especially if you just got your license and every time you take the keys your parents have a small stroke.

Think of where you will be staying once you get there. When my friend and I went on a lovely road trip to Southern Ontario (Port Rowan, Turkey Point, Port Dover etc) there was an outbreak of Tick – so camping was so out off the list. I guess what I’m trying to say is, do your research.

With the internet these days you can basically see what the city/town you’re going to look like with google earth.  Plug in the address etc and see what’s around your accommodation. Don’t just take their word for it. Find out where you can eat, go dancing, go to a library, see a tourist attraction, walk along a beach, go to a festival…see how close or how far these things are from where you’re staying.

Photography by Dainis Deric – Dreamstime.com

Oh and just because a website say there’s a Bed and Breakfast on Timbuktu Road in some random small town you’ve never heard of – doesn’t mean there’s a bed and breakfast on Timbuktu road in the middle of the random town you’ve never heard of. Look it up. Call them. Make sure it is what it is.

Consider where you wish to go, I repeat, and how long it will take to get there.  So get a piece of paper and begin writing. You’ve decided you want to go to X place and it will take Y time to get there. Now, which of your friends can you spend time with in your car for Y amount of time without wanting to strangle them?

Might I suggest taking someone who like the same music you do. Why do I say that? Think about it. If you like listening to Metallica and the person you chose loves listening to Enya? Or if you like South Korean Pop and they like English Rap?  You’re in for a world of drama.

Why music? Because there is only so much talking a few people can do before they want to head a desk in bored frustration.

What vehicle are you taking? If you’re leasing your car you don’t want to drag it on the highway on a road trip. So maybe you have to rent one. Do you have at least a G2 (in Ontario) with a clean driving record and a credit card? There are many things you have to consider. Perhaps one of your friends have a diesel car and is willing to drive providing you chip in for gas (my friend has a diesel car. Didn’t know what that meant until she told me lol–very VERY good on gas).  Which ever you chose, chose wisely my friend, because the vehicle could make or break the trip.

Make sure you have a map or a reliable GPS (a recently updated GPS). Again, example from my road trip, our GPS was pretty good except when it took us through some backwoods, dirt road, in the middle of a forest. I am not exaggerating here. We turned off onto this road and it was dirt. We looked at each other just before I freaked and pulled out my camcorder just in case the trip turned into the horridly made Blair Witch Project. I was not impressed.

But we slowly made it through the path and ended up on an actual road that had an amazing view of Lake Eerie. Looking behind us we realized the GPS gave us a horrible short cut because if we’d continued along the road we were on, we could have cut out the heart-attack and just gone the long way around. But I digress.

Even if you don’t know how to read a map, you should be able to caliberate a GPS to take you where you want to go.

So now you have your destination, a little money, a car, music and a readily available GPS all you need now is the right junk food. Make sure you pack water –not only juice. I mean juice is yummy but an overload on sugar can put you to sleep. You want to be awake and alert for the ride. Toss in some grapes, strawberries, trail mix – things you can just dip your hand in and shove into your mouth. You don’t want complicated food to distract you.

There are so many more pointers I could give you–like make frequent stops. Because you’re driving doesn’t mean you’re superman(woman) so you need breaks.

Take a shower before you get in the car. You’re going to be in a confined space with other people, B.O is not a good thing.

Leave early enough to avoid mad traffic. Have you ever been stuck on the 401 at 8 in the morning? Not pretty.

Don’t break the speed limit. Take your time, adhere to all laws. We don’t want you and your friends to wind up in the same scenario as the cast of Sienfeld in the final episode. And you don’t want to end your trip with any added expense of tickets or fines.

Be calm along the ride. Rock out to your amazing beats – because chances are the long ride and people cutting you off are going to drive you batty.

So breathe.

Mastering the art of the Road Trip is not something you can do over night. No no, it takes lots and lots of practise. But have fun doing it.