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In 1926 only 800 miles of Route 66 were paved

Historic Route 66 > FAQ > Should we reserve rooms for our Route 66 trip?

Should we reserve rooms for our Route 66 trip?

You can reserve rooms via our partner (*) booking.com

There are two methods to find a place to sleep every night on a Route 66 trip.

Getting reservations or not, that's the question.

Each method has its good and bad side as well as its own set of fans. So there's little to no chance of people going to agree what's best on this subject.

Getting everything reserved and confirmed

The first way is to plan every stop long before the trip starts. The intention is to make sure to have confirmed reservations, guaranteed with a credit card. This allows one to arrive late in a room should it be needed and gives the assurance there will be a bed waiting for the traveler at the end of the day.

The biggest drawback is that it locks you in in the planning, so if you have a rainy day and want to do less, and do more the next day when there will be sun, you're stuck to your predetermined schedule.

This way allows you to cover a bit more ground every day, at the cost of a lot more preparation.

Avoiding reservations in the name of freedom and flexibility

The second way is to take it as it comes. You essentially look for a motel in the late afternoon and that's where you end up for the night. There is a risk of not finding a room, or not finding a room up to your standards. But, it does give you all the freedom to adapt your schedule at will and stay longer when you like to do so. But as most travelers have limited time, it doesn’t take away the need to make progress on a daily basis.

The biggest risk is running into an event that takes up all rooms in a region that you didn’t know about. Also staying at the more iconic motels isn’t all that likely to happen in season as those tend to sell out on a regular basis during the tourist season.

Mix it up is also possible!

Even a single group of bikers can easily rent all rooms in a small place like the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM.

The widespread availability of mobile devices capable of making a reservation online while on the road opened up new options.

There is now a middle ground as well: You can book a room for the next night (or two) and force some progress that way. You have some assurance to have a bed for the next night, but not have your entire schedule set in stone till the end of the trip. But even then, some motels and hotels tend to sell out many months in advance.

It's your choice

In the end, it's a personal choice. Both methods should work reasonably well. But if you want to stay at some of the small iconic motels along Route 66, or in places like the Grand Canyon, or during the balloon festival in Albuquerque, reservations are highly recommended. Getting reservations well ahead of time is obviously more necessary during the holiday season than at other times.

Do not over-plan!

Even if you plan all your overnight stops ahead of time, try not to over-plan your trip. There are too many places you could stop to take a picture, to see, to experience, to go inside, to talk to the locals, etc. to even list them, let alone plan them. Leave some room for spontaneity, to be surprised. It'll make your trip more enjoyable.

(*): In the interest of full disclosure: this site does earn a small fee on every sale through our partners. It's what keeps this resource available for free.

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