Every 6 months or so, we travel to Arizona to visit my husband’s family. We’ve gotten accostomed to making that 6 hour drive over the years. However, lately my husband really hasn’t been able to sit in the car for longer than 4 hours due to a bad back. We weighed our options for flying, and driving still was the less expensive option. So this time, we had to make arrangments to stay overnight at a motel.

Let me just say that our options off the 10 interstate are very few. The mid-point between our house and my in-law’s house is a truck stop called Blythe. If you’ve ever driven through that town, you’ll know that it’s not quaint, nice, or interesting. It’s actually pretty slummy. My husband had a frightening experience the last time he stayed overnight in Blythe driving to Arizona, so we decided to skip that town this trip. *Think chainsaw, dark parking lot, boarded up front door of his motel room.

Instead, we stopped at the next truck stop town; Ehrenberg, AZ, just on the other side of the Arizona border. Since we would just be staying the night, then leaving for Phoenix the next day, we were fine with the fact that the motel is literally centered in the parking lot of a truck stop. When I was researching our motel options in Blythe and Ehrenberg, there was a difference in price of about $10 after tax, with Ehrenberg being cheaper. It helped that Arizona’s sales tax is about 3 percentage points lower than California’s. For under $65, we were able to rest overnight, get cleaned up the next morning, and hit the road.

Of course there were cheaper options, like spending the night in our car (which is completely do-able). However, we felt that since we were saving money on air travel and a rental car, we could splurge this once on a cheap motel. Our drive back will be the entire 6-hours straight through. Driving home always seems to go quicker since we don’t have to fight the LA traffic going into LA. (Strange but true.) I would definitely stay overnight again if we had to.

Here are some of the things I researched when making my selection for a cheap, yet safe, motel:

  • Location: Not far from the freeway and enough traffic to make the place seem safe. Also, mid-way or more from our destination.
  • Price: A few motels in Blythe were over $100 a night, that seemed much too high for such a location. Our motel was under $65 just outside the California border.
  • Reviews: I checked Trip Advisor for reviews of a few motels I was looking into. The Best Western we stayed in had over 4 stars, most people said it was clean and safe. It even had a refridgerator and microwave. The one negative review had to do with its continental breakfast, and I have to agree, it was really meager.

What experiences have you had, good or bad, with cheap motels?