Regarding hotels and bookings .... the net is a boon. But it is up to your common sense also. Do not get carried away by any of the pics on a site. They may have been taken when the place was newly constructed.
Also never fall for low rates. If a place looks very affordable, chances are you will not like it at all. Service, food, ambience, hygiene and security will be compromised to a great extent.
Most sites advertise on the distance from the bus stop / railway station / airport. Do not fall for that. What does a little distance matter at all if you are on vacation. So if you are visitng a sea side ... book near the beach. If you are in a city book at a place nearest to the hub of the city. You visit to get a feel of the place ... not to travel from staions everyday.
Make sure your hotel has a pick and drop facility. The catch is .... most of them will say they have it. But when you reach and call them from the airport / station, the will avoid it by saying that facility is only for special guests or executive guests.
Then they will cajole you to make the trip yourself and they will give you the drop facility when you leave. That again will be refused later. If you argue, they will argue.
And always ask for the check out bill to be ready at least an hour before you plan to leave. That way you won't be cheated with extra and huge amounts. If you have ordered food keep a track of the number of dishes too.
I am referring to middle budget hotels here that you will have to deal with when you are in small towns. I may sound like a miser ... but that is not so. I just don't want to be taken for a fool and cheated ... when I am already paying for what I am being given.
One hotel actually argued with us ... but they know that we will be late .... so they took their time in preparing the check out bill. We kept asking them for the promised drop .... and finally .... since there were other customers around .... they relented. But suddenly the guy at the counter snatched the bill from hubby's hand and started berating the other guy for not adding a tax value to the amount. Then after deducting that amount he handed back the change. We still have not made out what tax that was. So much for promised freebies.
Another thing we have had to go through in almost every place in India is the cabs the hotels supply for your trips. For long distances do take some time out and check out the vehicle before hand. And talk to the driver too. Most hotels do not encourage this ... but if you persist they will relent. Always insist on a new vehicle ... if not brand new .... never agree to an old, run down vehicle. It should be in perfect running condition.
And the driver should be a good person ... which is very important ... especially when you are in a new place. He should be enthusiastic and happy to take you around. Never go for the grouchy or the oversmart types. Your trip can turn from boring to nightmarish. Of course he has to be a capable driver too.
Almost all hotels do not encourage sticking to the same driver. If you like one there is no chance that you will get the same person on your next day's trip. So do not hope. We have had such experiences. So while one day we have a great trip ... the other day may not be so charming. :-)
I am yet to know the reason though.
And above all never ask the driver of the cab to suggest a place to eat. Always decide yourself. These people have tie ups with a lot of dhabba owners or small hotels ... where they get a subsidized or free meal if they get customers or tourists.
While I am not against these people making money or the drivers' freebies ... I have experienced that the place are always small ,dingy and extremely dirty and unhygeniec. Dhabbas are great ... but only if they are clean and serve piping hot food.
Never eat cold or just warm food. Carry your own drinking water.
And keep your medicines with you.
Take a little care and your trips will be smooth sailing ... err ... travelling. :-)