It’s not the destination, they say—it’s the journey. That may be so, but the lesson you’ll learn, the experiences you’ll walk away with and the ultimate takeaway from your travels depends heavily on your lodging as well. Where you stay makes a big difference about how you perform and how you feel when you’re out doing what you came to do.

There are three ways that travelers typically decide upon their lodgings: planning, recommendations and spur of the moment necessity. The last option is obviously the least desirable—how many times have you been driving down the highway, eyes drooping, and decided to pull over at what turned out to be the scummiest motel on the planet? Or how many times have you arrived at your destination, laden with baggage, only to be turned away by every decently priced hotel?

That’s why it pays to plan ahead, book ahead or at least research ahead. If you know where you’ll be traveling to, you can choose your lodgings based on your needs, not on desperation. You can take the advertisements, offers and websites for their word—or you can check out user reviews and get recommendations.

Hotels, motels and other lodgings with established reputations are usually good bets—but if you’ll be traveling to unfamiliar lands, then it might be useful to hear from someone who’s actually stayed at the lodging that you’re considering. User reviews, recommendations from locals and associations can help ensure that you have a good night’s stay, instead of a nightmare.

For more information on travel lodgings, check out some of the resources, websites and articles below.

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