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Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Northeast, USA

Where to Stay When You are Road Tripping East Coast USA

I am not sure if you know, but along the East Coast I95 interstate are a million hotels. It seems every exit has lodging and it is easy to just rock up or book online a few minutes before hand. Competition is fierce so prices are fairly cheap as well, but be aware, it’s always PLUS tax.

Cheap food places and tourist spots also have these hotel newspaper magazines, which offer maps and coupons on hotel stays. It’s a great resource for looking where things are, deciding on something and then seeing if Expedia is cheaper, generally it always was.

Here in the States we have found it is very common for hotel rooms to come with either 2 double beds or sometimes even 2 Queen beds. While Josh and I found this amusing on our first trip in 2007 it has been nothing but super helpful on our road trip down the East Coast of the US, since we now travel with 2 kids.

My husband is 6 foot 8 (205cm) so we rarely share a double bed. If the hotel room comes with 2 doubles we generally each share with one child. On the rare chance the room comes with a Queen the kids can share and so can we.

Here is a list of places we stayed at during our road trip, which may help you if you decide to Road Trip USA:

Philadelphia

SkyView Plaza (check latest prices...)

$75 incl. parking, wifi, breakfast

2 double beds

Josh had found a hotel on Trip Advisor and when we rocked up to Philadelphia it was shut. We then drove to the Old City to a Holiday Inn, which wanted over $170 for the night excluding parking & breakfast. We knew we could do better and finally Expedia came up with a place called Skyview Plaza.

It looked old from the front and the elevator took as long to get to the third floor as the elevator to the 80th floor in the Empire State Building. Our room was fine, it was very cold and the heater was very loud and not adequate for the thin bedding. It was also closer to the airport and further out of town. Adequate if you have to be in that area. The room was clean and they had cable.

Breakfast was basic – 2 types of cereal, toast and coffee.


Washington DC

AirBnB - Dave’s Place, Van Ness (Check the latest prices...)

$66 incl. wifi

1 double bed

We decided to book Washington DC in Philadelphia because we wanted to stay 4 nights and it seemed a fairly expensive place to stay. We found Dave’s place on AirBnB and he was willing to negotiate with us.

Dave was a young bachelor & his apartment was in a great location. There was minimal parking with street parking only 2 hourly in the day. After speaking to the lobby we were given a guest parking spot in the basement for $10 per 24 hours.

The apartment was walking distance to the metro station, which were a few stops into all the action like the zoo & museums. Also walking distance was a Giant supermarket and several restaurants, as well as plenty of places that offered free delivery.

By far the location was number 1 for me. The apartment complex was very secure with a great lobby you could only enter with a key. There was a combined laundry, which was slightly irritating because the night I chose to do my laundry someone else was but, lucky for me, no one was there 7:30am Saturday morning!

The apartment itself was a one bedroom sparsely furnished place typical of a bachelor pad with a large projector screen with cable, and a super clean kitchen. Dave had got us some plastic plates and knives and forks, otherwise there was no toaster or much else in the kitchen.

The bedroom bed was only a double bed and Josh and I struggled to fit on it. While the kids slept on the couch in the lounge room, which was quite narrow. The bathroom door had several passionate punch marks in it, which he explained was the result of his friend’s losing sporting team.

Despite the lack of anything in the kitchen and the sleeping arrangements, the location more then made up for it and really we were barely there. The wifi was excellent and the location secure, which is important to us.  Clearly this is not a hotel, but someone’s home and we were very grateful to him for moving out last minute to allow us to stay. 


Virginia Beach

Clarion Inn & Suites (check the latest prices...)

$67 incl. parking, wifi, breakfast

2 queen beds

Excellent location with partial ocean views and easy walking distance to the boardwalk and dozens of restaurants (many of which were closed during the winter season).

We booked this on our last night in Washington on Expedia. The location was great and the hotel itself was in fantastic condition. The parking was out the back, not secure, but free. The room itself was on the 4th floor and huge. It came with 2 queen beds, as well as a sofa bed, fridge, microwave and cable. It was all clean and beautiful. Bathroom came with adequate supplies and a great showerhead.

We had some noisy neighbors who quieted down about 11pm. We didn’t mind too much as we knew they would get a nice surprise in the morning when our kids woke up to start screaming and shouting.

Breakfast was pretty good too – scrambled eggs, sausages, biscuits, waffles, cereal, bagels, toast, pastries and fruit.


Fayetteville

Super 8 (check the latest prices...)

$67 incl. parking, wifi, breakfast

2 double beds

This place looked scary when we drove up, but the lady at the front desk assured us it was clean and bug free.  It was one of those places right outside of a movie where the man is having an affair.

The room was upstairs with an outside entry. Parking was in a lot just below our room.

The room was small, but adequate. Clean beds, microwave, fridge, and cable. The wifi did not work and the reception kept telling us it was getting fixed all night. Josh wondered if he should go fix it, but we survived without it one night.

We ordered Chinese delivered to the room, had way too much food as always despite ordering one chicken and cashew and one vegetables.

Breakfast was waffles, pastry, toast, cereal, yoghurt and fruit. They had a pool, however it was closed for the winter season. 


Charleston

Comfort Inn – Historic Centre (check the latest prices...)

$69 incl. parking, wifi, breakfast

2 double beds

We booked this in the car on the way to Charleston, as they had a sale on Expedia that was cheaper than the quote we received over the phone from the inn.

The hotel was conveniently located, but probably not walking distance with kids. The lobby area and breakfast area were very nice looking. The room was small, but presented well with headboards, fridge, microwave and cable. The aircon a little loud, but cooled the room down nicely.

Breakfast was average, perhaps there was more choice earlier in the morning, but at half hour to closing it was not that full and the eggs were dried out. I enjoyed my bowl of cereal and the kids had yoghurt, which they love.

Would stay again, comfortable, well presented Inn. 


Jacksonville

Clarion (now Jacksonville Airport Hotel) soon to be a Hilton Doubletree hotel (check the latest prices...)

$45 incl. parking, wifi, breakfast

2 double beds

Again on the way from Savannah to Jacksonville we found this great rate on Expedia and decided to book it online.

The hotel is not in a great location for visiting Jacksonville, but right in the airport so perfect for anyone needing those facilities. It was a short drive to supermarkets and food.

It has a pretty swanky lobby and beautiful floral carpeted walkways. The room was large with fridge, microwave, and cable TV.

Breakfast was actually pretty fantastic with bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, gravy & biscuits, porridge, fruit, pastries, delicious banana bread and cereals.

This hotel was great value and we wanted to stay longer. 


Cocoa Beach

International Palms Resort (check the latest prices...)

$90 incl. parking, wifi

1 king bed, a bunk bed and a single bed – kids beds in separate curtained area

This one was a little hairy to book due to different prices on three different sites, however after an hour on the phone with Expedia they met the price of the others, reduced it by $5 and then gave us a $50 credit for next time. So our 3-hour drive went fast and was very productive.

The hotel is very old, and slightly run down, but still a nice surprise after the mini rooms we have been staying in. The room is slightly weathered, but clean and has a king bed, and then in a semi-closed room with a curtain door – bunks and a single, as well as their own TV. My 4 year old was super excited about that, too bad she had no time to watch it. The semi-closed room was painted with sea animals.

The inn was located directly on the beach and there was also a large Olympic size swimming pool and a kids pool with pirate ship and slides. There is a basketball court, beach volleyball court and a playground too.

The wifi is a little slow, but were so stoked to have a bed to share again we didn’t mind.  There’s a fridge, microwave, cable TV and the ever-present old, noisy aircon.

Breakfast was not included and we were travelling with a box of cereal so we brought some milk the night before and had breakfast down on the beach. 


Miami

AirBnB - Craig’s Apartment (check the latest prices...)

$95 incl. parking, wifi

1 king bed, 1 double bed, 1 single bed

After checking out numerous hotels in Miami we came to the conclusion it was either very expensive or if cheap, very underrated. We decided to check AirBnB and after some negotiation decided that a 2-bedroom apartment would suit us better than a double bed hotel room for the same price.

The apartment is relatively old, in an old apartment complex. The inside has been tastefully decorated and the furnishings were all new. The bed was really comfortable and so was the couch.

It must be an old place though, because the bathroom taps leaked and the toilet came with a plunger. The kitchen was ancient with stained benches and a big tub of a sink. However there was a fridge, oven, microwave, even a dishwasher. There is a shared laundry down the hall (which I couldn’t work out how to use).

The aircon/heater was the loudest yet and the noise came from a cupboard in the master room so we had to sleep with it off. The windows were slats and noise infiltrated through very easily. It did have a fair bit of traffic noise and human comings and goings.

The wifi was excellent and all the space was super. It was in a great location with a balcony overlooking a canal and only 2 blocks from a Walmart Superstore. Our first ever visit and it was immense.

I would stay again because I know the options in Miami. If this place had better windows and doors to lock out the noise as well as an upgrade to the heating/aircon it would be worth a small fortune. As it is we were very glad we found it for the price it was.


Cocoa Beach

International Palms Resort (check the latest prices...)

$107 incl. parking, wifi

1 king bed, a bunk bed and a single bed – kids beds in separate curtained area

Back here again, because my daughter kept asking to come back. Plus we wanted to be close to Port Canaveral for our cruise the next day.

Priced a little more this time round, cause of the weekend and Key Lime festival, however the staff were happy to match Expedia pricing when I booked direct with them after checking out the previous time.

We had a minor hiccup when arriving, they could not find our booking. After some phonecalls and checking they realised it had been booked under my first and middle name, not my surname. For the incovenience they gave us a S'mores pack - marshmellows, Hershey's chocolate & graham crackers, which we later put together down on the beach over a fire pit. It was our first S'mores!

When you are comparing different vacation destinations throughout the US I suggest you consider a road trip through all of them. We used a mixture of Expedia & AirBnB for this trip and it was surprisingly easier then I thought. Both of those have excellent iPhone apps, in particular the Expedia one allows you to save the address straight to your calender.

I’m pretty sure we will be doing it again, maybe West to East next time. And you can be sure I will write all about accommodation on that journey for you as well.

All photos of our accomodation can be found in the Photo Journal.

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Bethaney - Flashpacker Family on
What a great round up Erin! You sure stayed in a wide range of places. It's good to know of all the different options out there. You make me want to go on another US road trip!!!! Hope you enjoy your cruise!!!
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