Unless you want to lose your shirt on hotels, meeting the right folks on the road is absolutely imperative for long-term touring.
I'm not saying hotels are out of the question, but if you're starting out on the tour circuit, finding people to put you up for the night is pretty easy if you just ask.
We simply had a sign at the merch booth: "Can we sleep on your floor tonight?" Eighty percent of the time we'd get an offer, and that's where the real fun, and stories, began.
This network will start to contain a lot of people if you continue to test the waters. There's the college kids, opening bands, metal heads, sunrise partiers, ex-band bros, older couples, etc. etc. The list goes on, and there's a lot of overlap.
Aside from regular show memories, the post-show situation provides just as many, if not more, servings for the old "brain book." You might find yourself running from security on the rooftops of Denver, drinking genuine moonshine in Kentucky or skeet shooting in Indiana. Showers and breakfasts are a total bonus, and occasionally you'll be able to do some laundry at these night haunts, time permitting.
However, you'll also experience the other side of the coin: waking up next to dried cat poop in a Midwestern basement, losing sleep due to a 24-hour EDM party, freezing in a Belgian punk squat, dodging enraged ex-lovers throwing lamps at suspected cheaters. With time, you'll be able to figure out which situations to avoid, but they're all character building, and the sketchy ones are oftentimes the most memorable.
After a while you might be able to skip hotels all together, but don't wear out your new-found friends. Trying to crash at that dude's mom's house for the third night of SXSW might be a touch uncouth. Although, with some luck, you can amass a handful of contacts that will gladly put you up, assuming you didn't ruin their homes/apartments during the last rodeo.
These are the people who genuinely make touring possible for many bands. Those who, time and time again, extend a hand of generosity into the often dismal realm of 10-hour drives, dirty clothes and fart jokes.
Or, you know, you could just stay at a Motel 6.