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Hotel reservations—do I need them?

When is it appropriate to travel without reservations?
/ Source: Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel

Another key step of travel preparation. Long in advance of departure, you need to make advance reservations for your lodgings—or else make the conscious decision to dispense with them; you adopt the latter course if you value, above all, the freedom and flexibility of being able to travel whenever you want, to whatever city captures your fancy.

If you do decide to travel without reservations, you must equip yourself in advance with lists of accommodations to be contacted upon arrival in each city, derived either from our own lodgings discussion in our Destinations section (simply print out the listings that intrigue you), or from guidebooks, or from the free literature that is obtained from government tourist offices that virtually every destination maintains.

Advance reservations for accommodations are made either through travel agents, or by direct calls, letters, e-mail or use of hotel Web sites to hotel chains headquartered in the United States, or through Hotel Discounters (we’ve included a list of them on this Web site), or by writing directly to the hotels and other lodgings in question. Keep in mind, in particular, that budget hotels and inexpensive guesthouses and pensions will make advance reservations for you to the same extent as higher-priced hotels do.