There are few things we enjoy more here at Vintage Roadside than going on a road trip. Part of the fun is not knowing just where along the road you may end up for the night. "Will they have a neat vintage sign?", "Will they have a restaurant nearby?", and most important after a long day of driving, "Will they have a vacancy?". However we've noticed something missing at many motels (mainly the "chain" motels) recently. We seem to have quietly lost an old roadside friend while we weren't looking. The friend we refer to is that beacon in the night: The neon Vacancy sign.
Next time you're traveling along a major interstate take a look at those motel signs lining the exits. You'll recognize the majority of them as you see the same signs at just about every major freeway exit across the country. They're big, they always seem to be in fine repair and many even tell you what you'll be paying for a room. However there's one critical point they're missing: Do they have a room tonight? I'm sure many hours of research went into these sign designs that don't incorporate a "vacancy/no vacancy" feature, but no one enjoys navigating a series of off-ramps at 2:30 am only to be told there are no rooms available. Nor do many people find the suggestion that driving 48 miles back the way you came to get a room very helpful either. I realize some might suggest a reservation to solve this issue, but to me the entire spirit of the road trip is discovering new places - perhaps I spent 2 extra hours at the local historical society, or went 50 miles out of the way to find a mom and pop drive in? At that point I want to head off down the road until I'm ready to call it a night. This method of finding lodging worked for decades and I hate to lose this magical part of the journey.
The next time you're out on the road and need a place to stay take another look at those mom and pop motels. Sure they might not have wireless internet or free HBO but you'll be able to spot that vacancy sign from a mile down the road!