Is booking lodging ahead a necessity?

Old Mar 21st, 2014, 07:02 PM
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Is booking lodging ahead a necessity?

Will be in Ireland from May 10 to May 25. Renting a car and heading north from Dublin airport. We will book our first night in Belfast but would love to have the flexibility to book lodging as we go as opposed to having to arrive at certain locations on certain days. Is this totally unrealistic?
bucketlist50 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2014, 10:53 PM
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At that time of year I'm sure you can find lodging anywhere without booking ahead. The question is if it's decent lodging and within your budget. And how much time you want to waste each day, looking for a place to stay.

If you are on a very strict budget or if you have any special "needs" like an elevator or an extra long bed or ensuite bathroom or free Wifi I would advise you to book ahead.

I have heard that it's possible to walk into a tourist info office and get help with finding lodging, but I've never tried it so have no idea if their recommendations are any good.

Will you have access to Internet or a phone during your trip? Maybe you could book next night's lodging a day ahead by Internet or by phone? That would give you some freedom.
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 11:29 PM
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Standard answer... As a Couple with no preconceived requirements above a clean bed and a good Breakfast then it's fine to wing it a little

Winging it the t2p way. or how we tour

Book the 1st and last nights. Pin a Michelin 712 map on an empty wall. Decide any must see places and pin them. work out some stepping stones(towns) on a rough route. get a list of 3 guest houses and 1 hotel for these potential places. email the hotels and ask if there are (1) any events or festivals locally on your possible dates. (2) if the hotel is doing any special offers on your possible dates. Talk to your host and ask in the local pub what's worth seeing. Phone ahead at breakfast for the evening accommodation. Only book one night at once, if the place is good or there's things to do and see within a 30mile radius book an extra night.

Tourist Information Bureau are great and will always find you a bed for the night. Provided there is one available and of course provided they are open! not much fun knocking on doors at 6pm.

Of course you don't have to visit every place on your list but having a few numbers is better than knocking on doors ..

If you are visiting Ennis for the Fledh Nua then you might want to book your time there sooner rather than later to be central.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 01:29 AM
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This is actually very good advice for many places off season.

We never traveled any other way when we were younger.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 02:08 AM
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The problem with questions like this is occupancy rates are not accurately reflected in the answers.

Those who book ahead have no knowledge to impart as to whether they would have found lodging at all, had they not booked ahead. They could tell you whether they had to take their second or nth choices instead of their first pick, and how far in advance they found their choices constrained. Reduction of choice is a RELATIVE index of occupancy rate for the dates in question, but still doesn't give information about whether the occupancy rate will be less than five per cent, which is presumably what you are asking. (Less than five per cent is so tight, that one is in danger of randomly missing even such beds as are available.)

On the other hand, those who didn't book ahead and who found lodging, don't know if the lodging which they secured, was the last available bed for 50 feet or 50 miles. In short, they cannot describe how close to the wire they were whilst winging it. Again, they can only describe their individual perception, which may or may not accurately reflect the overall reality.

If you're truly winging it, the only question you have to answer is, can you tolerate taking the risk of sleeping in the car or the train station EVER, howsoever unlikely that might be. If the answer is yes, go for it.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 03:11 AM
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In 30+ years I have slept in the car Once.. That was a Pre booked Hotel booked on one of their own "special offer" deals. They were informed it would be a late check in.. on arrival at 11pm they could not find my booking but would have sold me a rack room at over €100 for the night!!..Still charged my card for the room as a no show and took a month to refund, which is why I never recommend Raddison even to people I don't like..
There are more than enough beds any place in Ireland unless there is a festival or local event which is always worth checking and provided you check before about 4pm there is always the next town.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 03:55 AM
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Tony, you raise the good point that even with pre-booked hotels, there can still be surprises. There is no perfect system. Against the pre-booking side, hotels can 'walk you' to another hotel or in your case, to another rate (although in fairness I have rarely had this happen.) Against the no pre-book side, one has to show up in sufficient time on a given day to secure a room - which may or may not feel like a constraint on flexibility.

By the way, I would have taken the room at the Radisson and then fought out the details of the exact rate later with the CC company, waving my confirmation as proof that there was a contracted rate not honoured, but chacun a son gout.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:09 AM
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We often "winged it" in our youth, and even more recently in NZ, albeit only for the last 2 nights after we changed our plans. if we hadn't we would never have had one of the best nights of our travelling life in the town of Oamaru.

Rarely has it gone wrong, even when we were trying to find rooms for 4 of us [us and the kids who were then about 11 and 8] during a transport strike in Paris.

nowadays we tend to be more risk averse and want more out of our accommodation than we used to. But if you are happy with something clean and reasonably priced, I can't see why, with a bit of forward planning, you shouldn't travel as you please, especially in May in Ireland.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:19 AM
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If you plan to use B&Bs, you should be safe enough winging it in May. Most Irish B&Bs are acceptably good or better. But there are a few that are less good. My tactic is to get recommendations when I can (as I live in Ireland, it's easy for me). My suggestion for visitors from overseas is to ask local tourist offices to help. Another possibility is to use the formal or informal links between B&B owners - "We are moving on to Galway today. Can you recommend some place to stay?".

If you want to use hotels, different guidance applies. In general, you can't get the best rates as walk-ins.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 06:22 AM
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And carry a smart phone or notebook that you can use to plug into or another comparable website.
Let your fingers do the walking rather than your feet.
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