If you want to relax- make your home real nice or buy a camper, and don't eat out.....

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OP you are dead on. I said months ago that businesses are going to suffer because of the employment issue and people couldn’t figure out what I was talking about.

your experience says it all. And lots of people like you and me are going to stop wasting time at these businesses and figure something else out.
 
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Part of the enjoyment of a vacation is experiencing the local food prepared by the locals. If you rather spend part of your vacation time grocery shopping and cooking, more power to you. Just don't think it's most peoples preference.

The grocery stores along the coasts of FL will tell you you’re in the minority
 
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Ah, the cozy RV life. Grey and black water tanks. Lovely. I used to travel a lot and I still travel a good amount while on the job. I don't want to bring my house with me when I travel. I just got back from a one-month vacation in Costa Rica. I got a place there less than 250 yards from the beach. I have a full kitchen but usually only cook at night. During the day I'm out surfing or boating. Food, unless you stick with the staples, is expensive in Costa Rica. I'll usually grab some pinto or ceviche or a burrito from a roadside vendor. This is the rainy season and the best time for surfing in Costa Rica.
 
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I checked this morning, I have stayed in over 110 different hotels since 1 JAN 2021. Flew over 170 flight segments, and ate out while doing this.
That does explain your desire to relax at home when on vacation. Your schedule appears to be extreme. My main goal of vacations is not to relax, it's to do things and see places. If I want to relax I doze off in my backyard. Course for horses.
 
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Not everyone spends thousands of dollars on "vaca". There's some that caught properties and/or opportunities at the right time, maybe spent a few thousand over the course of a few years but now have minimal costs to enjoy ocean-front property frequently with family when needed/wanted. Yes, we also go to the local Publix when we arrive, buy some fresh produce, meat, dairy, some other dry food goods to be able to prepare BETTER food than what is mostly available in most restaurants in the area.

BTW, I don't read a lot on vacation, but my wife does while sitting in the sand. On a private beach in SW Florida, absent of a bunch of hooligans on the other side of the state. ;)
 
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I’ll say that I prefer the Wyndham Hotels, namely Super 8 when I travel. I just got back from Davenport Iowa and the room was just as good as in past years. Not overly fancy but everything I need for a few days.
 
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If someone wants a vacation, they should make their home their vacation place or buy a camper of RV. Going out to dinner, flying, or staying in a hotel is most likely a big step down to what most people have at home.

I checked this morning, I have stayed in over 110 different hotels since 1 JAN 2021. Flew over 170 flight segments, and ate out while doing this. Most of us know flying is a free for all. More sane people at a Wal-mart at midnight on a Friday night than on a commercial flight. But what isn't talked about is the hotels and restaurants while away from home.

I stay at hotels primarily in the Marriott family. Occasional hotels in the Hilton and IHG families also. The market has shifted. The rooms are dirty, missing things, and often can't even flush the toilet. And this is at top branded hotels. The rooms next to my rooms are often people that seem like to act like they are at a Chuck E. Cheese. Don't think I had a sink drain in the past dozen stays.

Between people mistreating the room, and the management unable to maintain the room- it is not crazy. It is just reality. One doesn't even want to sleep on the sheets. And this from a guy who spent many nights just in a sleeping bag on the ground for the past 24 of 27 years (last three years I never slept on the ground- had a office job.

Eating out is just as bad. At Freddy's right now in South Carolina. I like Freddy's... a lot. Ordered the number five meal. One hamburger, one hot dog, and fries. I order plain so should be a easy order. Hot dog came in the bun unheated. I would say uncooked, but commercial hot dogs are cooked at the packaging plant. How can one forget to heat the hot dog before putting it in the bun.

With the above observation- the fix is simple. Build that great outdoor kitchen and patio, and pool, whatever and go out "at home". Make the wonderful family /great room. If you "jones" for traveling, get the RV/ camper. Control your destiny.
Where do you stay...Bates Motels? I just did a 2-week road trip, and the hotels were generally fine. Not perfect, but pretty good. Only real problem was one place in VA had almost no water pressure in the shower. (Wife couldn't wash her hair.) I was very impressed by, of all things, a Howard Johnson's in SC.
 
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Not a bad strategy as I used to do the same as you. I got older and said quit being cheap and in Northeastern Florida the luxury chains are not luxury anymore.
Go look at the star or # ratings.
In the end I checked into Best Western and it was far better. True.

Now in Palm Coast the Econo lodge is probably the nastiest joint i ever stayed in. Just disgusting...lol

The roaches even left because it was so bad.
It varies wildly. I have seen a Super 8 and a Red Roof that were superb...the worst place I ever stayed was a Ramada. (Roanoke, 6 years ago.)
 
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Doesn't Amtrak have a route from Chicago to the west coast ? That's something I'd like to do someday.
They have four-northern (Empire Builder to Portland/Seattle), central (California Zephyr to SF), southern (Southwest Chief to LA), and very southern (Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, also to LA).
 
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Are trains generally good today, or does it depend on the route? My parents liked Amtrak in the 1990s up to around 2001. I remember taking Amtrak trains then a couple times and it was generally a good experience. It was slow and the food was terrible, but the scenery was pretty good. The last trip I remember was NC to Washington DC around 2000.

Around 2006-2007 some friends would occasionally use Amtrak to get between Charlotte, NC and Durham, NC. That route was bad. There were fights, lots of sketchy people, etc. It was like 1970s New York compared to what I experienced a few years before.
Experience varies wildly with crew, other passengers, and outside the NEC, the train is late often enough that it's essentially every time.
 
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The kids are going to be in college by next Friday.

We're going to do day trips and eat at the Moms and Pops. We're located near Chattanooga, the North Georgia mountains and Atlanta so maybe a two hour drive at most any direction.

I would love to sell/rent the house and travel in an RV but my wife needs to get rid of her stuff which is a LOT. In my bedroom, 99+% of the stuff is hers. I just have a half row of a small bookshelf and a few drawers for clothes.
 

GON

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Where do you stay...Bates Motels? I just did a 2-week road trip, and the hotels were generally fine. Not perfect, but pretty good. Only real problem was one place in VA had almost no water pressure in the shower. (Wife couldn't wash her hair.) I was very impressed by, of all things, a Howard Johnson's in SC.
Typically one of the below:

Marriott
Courtyard
Springhill Suites
Residence Inn
JW Marriott
Fairfield Inn
Hilton
Townplace Suites
 
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Typically one of the below:

Marriott
Courtyard
Springhill Suites
Residence Inn
JW Marriott
Fairfield Inn
Hilton
Townplace Suites
Adjust your planning and ignore the name on the sign. Many of the lower-tier places are better-go purely by online reviews.
 
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We have done and redone most things at our house. We still like a break from the routine though.
I sometimes wonder if the reviews are backwards. Maybe the nice places people leave bad reviews so it’s not crowded?
Covid has ruined the hotel experience at many places. It is used as an excuse to do as little as possible and they still force the “resort fee”. We stayed at Caesars Palace in Vegas and it was dirty and beat up looking. Hilton’s are consistently terrible. We still like to travel. A lot of nice places still out there. It’s nice leaving California, if it wasn’t for work I wouldn’t mind not coming back.
 
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We have done and redone most things at our house. We still like a break from the routine though.
I sometimes wonder if the reviews are backwards. Maybe the nice places people leave bad reviews so it’s not crowded?
Covid has ruined the hotel experience at many places. It is used as an excuse to do as little as possible and they still force the “resort fee”. We stayed at Caesars Palace in Vegas and it was dirty and beat up looking. Hilton’s are consistently terrible. We still like to travel. A lot of nice places still out there. It’s nice leaving California, if it wasn’t for work I wouldn’t mind not coming back.
I have found that TRU By Hilton is usually pretty nice, albeit rooms a little small.
 
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On a related note, does anyone else on this thread REFUSE to touch their lips to a drinking glass in a motel/hotel bathroom? I have NEVER seen a house cleaner's cart with a supply of clean glasses on them. I'm convinced those glasses are wiped down with damp towels left by the previous guests. Eeeew!

My wife and I just stayed at Hacienda del Sol in Tucson, AZ. Five star, on the Forbes list of Best 100 resorts in the country. The place was magnificent! But I still couldn't touch my lips to the glasses in the bathroom.

Scott

PS The walkway to the restaurant. Our room is center upper, view from me neck deep in one of the three pools. Our ahi tuna tostada appetizer! The place was really, really nice. But I still couldn't touch my lips to those glasses!

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This is why we are buying a vacation property in the Caribbean. It’s home away from home, and perfect weather in the winter. Full kitchen means we can cook our own meals, which are better than most restaurants. When we do go out to eat, it is something special we can’t get back home, and we know which are the tourist trap crap, and which are good.
 
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I have a hard time believing that people travel enough to justify the cost of a camper would be staying in hotels just to "relax" instead of having to go somewhere for a reason (visiting somewhere or someone). I also have a hard time believing that a camper would be objectively more relaxing than a hotel in the grade of Marriot or similar quality. Now of course, human tends to tolerate their own mess better than other people's mess, so the subject is likely going to be: if you want to relax, stay in your own mess instead of going into someone else's mess.
 
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