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Asking locals about lodging suggestions

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My wife and I will be traveling by car in Ireland for 8 days from July 7. We have a general itinerary planned, but we can be flexible. We will not be driving in Dublin. When we have done this, we do not have lodging reservations so we seek local suggestions in the places that we wish to stay a day or two. We have traveled elsewhere in Europe using this method but we hope that someone here could give some advice that would focus our task.
1. Upon entering a city or a town, what are the best places to ask about reasonably priced lodging? We like to find a room first, before sightseeing, in order to avoid leaving luggage in the vehicle.
2. One poster on this site wrote about using a laptop to check websites for deals, etc. Is this method worth the effort and risk of loss of the computer?

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