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Booking Hotels Prior to Travel

We prefer to travel in the shoulder season without restrictions that are created when accommodations are booked in advance. We have been able to do that in Croatia, in the past, but think that's no longer realistic. But, is that something you can do when traveling in Montenegro (and Albania)? When it's a place we have never been before, we don't know what places will demand more of our attention and those we just don't enjoy as much. We also like to follow the good weather.
Anybody have experience with this who can share a little advice?
Thanks so much!
ML

Posted by
27431 posts

I haven't been to Montenegro since 2015 and my first trip to Albania is coming up 7 weeks from now, so I don't have boots-on-the-ground information for you on those two countries.

Except for the pandemic years I've spent a lot of time in Europe each year; my travel has always fallen between early April and mid-October, so I know nothing about what happens outside that period. I like to travel the way you do, with maximum flexibility. In general, I am tending to book hotels a bit farther out each year. I no longer arrive in town and look for a room then (that did not go well, even in 2015), and I only very rarely book hotels the night before arrival. On my last trip I decided to extend my stay in a couple of cities (in the Baltic countries), and I ended up switching hotels because I didn't like the rate for the extra days at the first hotel. (One later told me I should have checked with the front desk before deciding to decamp.) On other trips I found my original hotel didn't have a room for me for the extra night(s) I wanted.

Your approach is likely to lead to slightly less good rooms at a somewhat higher price in many places; the best-value rooms will already have been booked by others. That may be a price you're willing to pay; it works for me, within reason. That plan may yield comparative bargains in larger cities if business travel is down at the time of your arrival and larger hotels have excess capacity. I'd recommend monitoring the availability/rate situation on a website like booking.com so you can see whether things are tightening up in the next two places you plan to be. That has the additional advantage of alerting you of a serious capacity shortfall if you are about to stumble into a town with a major special event going on. (I've twice hit some sort of motor-sport event and paid through the nose as a result.)

I imagine you plan to have a rental car. I'm always dependent on public transportation, so you'll be more flexible than I can be.

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks so much for your info. I really appreciate it.

Posted by
4351 posts

Albania and Montenegro are not as touristed as some countries so I imagine with budget flexibility, it’s possible. I was in both countries for 2 weeks each in 2023, but I prefer to have my accommodations set. So I don’t have actual experience trying this.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi Linda, we will travel to Montenegro in mid-May and plan to see a lot in 12 nights, but are a bit hesitant to pick the order given how weather can effect where you want to be (coast, lake mountains - canyon adventure and kayaking among the activities). Inevitably, our few searches for lodging (we prefer smaller inns where you might meet the local owner) lands on Booking.com or TripAdvisor, where I see notices now like "only 2 rooms left." I don't know if that notice means a booking site only has access to two more rooms, versus the lodging only has two more rooms. Our travel includes Montenegro Independence day (May 21) and I wonder if that is a getaway time, or if people stay home. In any case, it's nice to see person in the community here who is also planning a trip to Montenegro now! When are you going?

Posted by
43 posts

I have used booking.com many times and it appears they have access to a specific number of rooms, in most instances. I usually contact the facility directly and book through them when possible. I think we will be ok to 'wing it' in most places but we want to go to Theth and due to lack of options, we will book ahead and hope for good weather.
I'm so glad you mention the holiday. I'll certainly keep that in mind when planning. We will likely be there somewhere between the end of April through mid-May. I love the month of May here in Charleston, SC so it's hard to tear myself away for the whole month!
I've wanted to go to Montenegro each time we were in Croatia and for one reason or another, never made it, even thought we stayed in Dubrovnik! It'll fee good to finally visit there and Albania.
Thanks so much for your help and safe travels!

Posted by
4 posts

Teth in Albania looks very enticing - and that ferry trip! I like the idea of winging it with lodging so you can stay a little longer or cut out early, react to rainout days, but my partner reminds me that winging is when we have the most stress and tension between us, too! At least in the US, I've been surprised how often there is no internet for those times I want to plan/book/make a call while in the car (Oregon coast, Catskills, NY).