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Any advice on "winging it" through Europe for hotels?

Any advice on "winging it" through Europe for hotels?

Jul 7th, 2001, 09:28 PM
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Any advice on "winging it" through Europe for hotels?

My friend and I are interested in visiting select cities without any set agenda -- we want to be able to just go from place to place without a set itinerary. Has anyone had experience with this? Would this be a nightmare in terms of finding hotel accommodations? We're looking at September timeframe and most likely Germany, France and Italy.
Jul 7th, 2001, 09:40 PM
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Most towns and cities in all three countries (especially Germany) have tourist information offices where you can book B&Bs, pensions, and hotels in their area plus some will book ahead to other towns as well.

Two traveling together could easily find lodging this way. The main problem would be places with festivals or special events happening - when all rooms could be full.
Jul 7th, 2001, 11:00 PM
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We did almost exactly that, three years ago (last week of may first week of june) Took Rick Steves guide to Germany,Switzerland,Austria. The guide was invaluable. The only place we had trouble getting accomodations, was along the Rhine, but then it was there spring long week-end. Italy was a little tougher to get cheap accomodations on the fly. We only spent one night in france, and it wasn't bad, but a little more expensive than Germany or Austria for accommodations on the fly. If your taking the train, you might have a little more trouble becayse you will have a limitted number of hotels around the train stations. I've bought several guides on europe, and the only one that paid for itself was the above mentioned book.
(sorry fodors)\
Jul 8th, 2001, 04:08 AM
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"Winging it" has become our mode of travel for (vacation) trips to Europe - traveling either late-Sept. to Oct. or mid-Jan. to Feb., to all of the countries you mention and then some.

I hasten to add the following caveats:
1. These are "road trips" - we have a rental car. Trying to "wing it" without a car would, IMHO, make the task too time consuming and leave you vunerable to sleeping under the stars.

2. Although it does not apply for Sept., do not attempt this for mountian areas during ski season. This is the only time we do make advanced reservations.

What we do:
- Check to see if cities/towns are hosting any events that might fill up rooms during your planned arrival time.
Check the town/city's internet pages for this info.

- If you don't know the native language, learn enough to ask for a room, price, etc.. Also how to ask for recommendations for another hotel in the town - hoteliers are usually very accommodating in this regard. If they are booked, they (95% of the time) will call other hotels or the local tourist office for you. Italy seems to be the exception to this.

- Unless you're really "adventerous", try to arrive in the town you plan to stay in by 2-3PM at the latest (earlier on a Friday). This should give you enough time to scout around for a room or (open) tourist/gov't office.

Thinking back on our "wing it" trips, out of the ~40 nights, only once did we have to "settle" for a room and even at that, the room was fine but the location was not exactly picturesque - small industrial area in Dachau at the Bavaria garni on Rudolf-Diesel Str.. We never had to sleep in the car - but it came close a couple of nights.

Jul 8th, 2001, 08:51 AM
John H
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I do think that traveling in a pair will make it easier to get a reservation than if there were more traveling together. However, even so, I would suggest making reservations for September in France if you are planning to be in Paris or on the Riviera. It is fall fashion season in Paris in September (early to mid-September, I think) and, from my experience, many of the hotels are booked well in advance. You can always book now, find out what the cancellation policy is and cancel if you need to. But, I'd suggest getting something booked early just to be on the safe side. (Last year I booked a hotel 5 months in advance, only to find out 10 days before leaving that the hotel had screwed up the reservation. I subsequently faxed 30-40 hotels and only one of them had any availability).

John H

Jul 8th, 2001, 09:35 AM
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Winging it is the only way to go. We have visited Europe 3 times in the last 3 years and only had a hotel reservation twice. One was for Octoberfest which is a must if you are going. Looks like you will be there in September. The other was a reservation in Paris. We left this particular hotel after the first night for another we found while in Paris.

We seem to play most of our trips to Europe by ear. We have a general idea of where we are going and when we need to be there, but we do not want to be held hostage by reservations we made earlier. This has helped us a couple of times when we ran across a town or region we really liked and decided to stay a little longer than expected.

Have a great time.


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