I have stayed over 500 nights at Marriott hotels, this creates a unique problem. As a traveler stays at the same chains it becomes less of an event and more of a chore. Unfortunately the more you return to a Marriott or Hilton hotel the more you have to encounter the fake sincerity of a front desk clerk who has been trained to suck up to platinum members like their job depended on it. The familiar trappings of a Residence Inn become annoyingly routine, the constant hoop jumping the staff put themselves through becomes exhausting to watch. I come from modest enough means that a staff waving and smiling as they wash my dishes and rearrange my toiletries on the vanity will never put me at ease.
A traveler reaches the point where the instruments of judging ones lodgings need to be reset and given a full recalibration. The prescription? A fleabag motel.
From the 1950's to 70's these gems of Americana sprung up along highways and helped invent the American road trip. Now 30-50 hard years later they are just the trick for getting out of that corporate chain hotel out by the interstate. How low end to go? Well that's a personal decision you've got to answer for yourself, if it's sign is at all similar to the one pictured below I'd advise to continue searching.
A good cheap motel is often located in a "rough area" closer to the city center than the chain restaurants of the bypass. Staying in one of these areas transports you into a land of mom and pop dining that truly reflects the region. Even a bad meal or disappointing motel will be over soon enough, the story of the broken door or god awful meal will last longer than the indigestion. So stop somewhere random, order the meatloaf special, take them up on a 3 night for $75 deal and lock your doors. Hide the camera and GPS... and lock your doors.