Overview

Sometimes you want a bit more adventure out of where you stay, and this too is OK.

There are advantages to seeking out local hotels, B&B's and the like. You'll stay overnight in a way much closer to the way people in the host country live. If you get an interesting innkeeper, you'll have an often times excellent source of travel tips and specific, local advice. These places are often much cheaper than a chain hotel, and often include a breakfast of stuff you have not eaten at home. These places are often located outside of the city centers, and can provide a look into the real life of the host country.

On the other hand, you may not be able to book in advance, or at least not on-line or toll-free. You might have to pay in local cash, write letters, wait for postcards confirming your reservation, and spend more of your vacation time and energy traveling to and locating the B&B, which means proportionately less time will be available for more traditional sightseeing. In many places you will share a toilet and bath with the other guests and amenities like baby cribs and little bottles of shampoo are absent.

You can find these places in good guidebooks (look for recent updated versions of the books and be wary if the book has several pages on the Hilton and Hyatt and then tacks a few B&B addresses on at the end) and through national tourist agencies.

To sum up: If your ideal vacation has lots of flexibility built into the schedule, if your kids will be happy eating new things and sharing a bath, and if your temperament and time schedule can accommodate the at times more cumbersome mechanics of booking a room, all in pursuit of adventure and discovery, go for it. We've had some of our best traveling times staying in places off the main streets.

Nonsmoking rooms can sometimes be harder to find overseas. Here are some websites that will make your task easier by cataloging nonsmoking accommodations in Europe, including the UK and Ireland, France (in French only) and Australia and New Zealand.

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