Life certainly comes with its fair share of hiccups! One such hiccup is learning how to deal with unexpected cancellations when you’re travelling – like an AirBnB host cancelling the night before because of rats in their air ducts. Hiccups like this can be stressful – especially when last minute hotel deals in large cities come with hefty price tags and compromises. It might seem stressful when it happens, but there’s always something positive to be found!
For us, we ended up in a motel that was $50 more per night, but thankfully had free parking and it was located in a better a location than our cancelled AirBnB. We had to forego the luxury of a bigger bed and nicer furniture, but with the pluses of its central location, no parking fees, I think we really lucked out with our last minute booking arrangements!
Looking for more road trip stories and advice? Take a look at some of these other posts
- Other Road Trip Itineraries
- Long-Distance Driving and Road Trip Safety
Goodbye Modern Loft, Hello Dark Motel!
For most trips, we tend to look for accommodations on Airbnb to enjoy different interior designs, friendly hosts, and the option of cooking food if we wanted to.
For a quick weekend getaway, we found ourselves a sweet loft location 30 minutes north of downtown Chicago through Airbnb. The location wasn’t ideal, but as we were doing a road trip to Chicago, a little more driving didn’t hurt! The added bonus of picking a further location meant it was friendlier on the wallet too (looking at you CAD to USD conversion rates).
We were really looking forward to staying here, I mean look at that long white couch – its begging to be lounged on!
Unfortunately, the day before we arrived in Chicago, we received an email from our host with the following message:
“…my sincerest apologies, but I have been out of town for the majority of the last month, and in addition to my wifi not working, I have discovered upon my return that there are rodents occupying my air ducts, and I will need to have this addresses asap over the next few days. Again, I apologize for this inconvenience”
We got a full refund and a $20 AirBnB credit back. At the time of the trip, the Airbnb was going for $97 CAD/night and all Chicago hotels and remaining open Airbnbs had rates of $200+ or more. Our refund and the credit was only enough to cover one night’s stay and we needed two.
I felt cheated of a gorgeous location for about half an hour. I was really looking forward to that loft. But sitting there stewing and feeling sorry didn’t help us find away to overcome our situation of having no place to stay for our trip.
Looking beyond AirBnB and Hotels
We could have selected a dormitory-type Airbnb and just crashed on someone else’s couch. But we weren’t comfortable letting the whole world see us eating takeout deep dish pizza while watching HGTV you know?
This last-minute cancellation *almost* skyrocketed the costs of staying in Chicago from under $200 to almost $500+ for a two night stay. We really wanted to keep our money for sightseeing and admission fares, AND didn’t want people to see us stuffing our faces in a shared dorm space, so we looked at our remaining options:
- Book a hotel downtown for around 250/night (not including parking)
- Look for hotels outside of the core for $150/night (but commute an hour into the city each day)
- Book an Airbnb in or around Chicago (all prices were around 200/night not including parking)
- Search similar sites like Airbnb (similar prices of 200+/night)
- Look for alternate options, like motels (150/night but central location and free parking)
After much deliberation, we selected the motel option. It was next-best fit with features like:
- budget-friendly (the least cost out of the remaining options)
- no hidden fees (like parking!)
- great location (hello heart of downtown Chicago)
We just needed a place to sleep, eat in our PJs, and have a good hot shower. The Ohio Motel met all our expectations and was exactly what we needed.
The Motel Stigma and Passing Co-worker Thoughts
When I recounted the story to my co-workers after the trip, some of them made some unpleasant passing remarks. They mentioned standard stigma associated with motels: dirty, grimy, grungy, and for shady adults looking to get it on…
As I’ve already stayed in a few myself, I personally think that it really depends on which ones you stay at. As long as you check out the reviews, and Google Map the location, you’re fine!
I did feel a little self-conscious after they made those remarks, but I know that the motel we were at wasn’t shady. It had family and children staying there, had a sweet concierge crew and had really clean bathrooms and showers. Plus – they had HGTV, and National Geographic as part of their channel selections.
Key Takeaways to Finding your Next Best Accommodation:
- Stay positive: Panicking and getting angry might feel better temporarily
- Keep some ‘just in case/emergency‘ money for the unexpected: Life comes with hiccups and vacations do too, keep some extra padding when planning out your vacation so that you can deal with unexpected things like cancellations!
- Save money by knowing your trip’s purpose: Some compromises like fancy toiletries, large rooms, walk-in closets, etc. can be made if your goal is to explore. If it is a rest and relaxation vacation, you could consider spending less on exploratory activities, and invest more in your accommodations instead.
- Ignore the stigma and consider motels for last minute accommodations: Sometimes you might find exactly what you’re looking for from a motel. Just make sure you check out the reviews and pictures first!