Americans love to travel whether it’s for business or pleasure. Even though travel is not suggested—or in the case of international travel, completely banned right now—you can still stay prepared for your future trips.
Because sometimes traveling can be a daunting task—especially if you’re someone that gets worries about staying in a hotel room. Is it clean? Does it have everything you need? For those who worry easily, fear not: this list of “hotel hacks” will help you get by to make your travels even more enjoyable.
Hangers Help Keep The Sun Outside
Most hotels have window blinds that perfectly block out the world outside your window, but not every hotel room is perfect. If you’re still getting little rays of light poking through a blind that can’t close all the way, go to your closet and check out your hangers.
Most hangers at hotels have small clips attached to them for hanging up smaller garments. But these can be used for your curtains as well, allowing you to clip the small openings completely shut, ensuring a peaceful rest without bright distractions.
Skip Room Service By Using Food Apps
Room service is an amazing perk of hotel life, but it’s also a costly one. Thankfully, we live in the modern age, where your smartphone can act as concierge services instead. If you have a food delivery app, you can order what you want right there, with no need to worry about the extra charges to your room.
Most food delivery will cater to hotel guests, even bringing the food to the room if requested, so there’s no need for the front desk to call you when your food has arrived.
It’s inevitable that noise from outside your hotel room’s doorway will make its way into your room at some point, and it always seems to happen the most when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. You can dampen the noise levels, however, by placing a few towels at the bottom crack of the door.
Added bonus? This also blocks out a small amount of light from the hallway fixtures that might seep its way into your room as well. Sleep quietly, and with less light distractions!
The Ironing Board Serves Many Purposes
If you’re traveling with your family and trying to save a lot, chances are your room won’t come equipped with a dining room area. For kids, this can result in a lot of crumbs ending up in their (or your) bed.
There’s an easy fix to this problem. Find the ironing board in your hotel’s closet, put a bedsheet over it, and there you have it! A small table for your kids to snack from.
Keeping Your Toothbrush Sanitary
Toothbrush containers are a great way to keep your toothbrushes clean. But eventually, they also get a little grimy-looking on the inside. Suddenly you don’t have a place to put your brush anywhere, except directly on the counter. If you’re a germaphobe, consider using clothing line clips to prop your toothbrush up.
Now it’s not going anywhere, it’s not touching anything that’s unsanitary, and your toothbrush is getting dry. It might take a couple of tries to balance it right, but you’ll get it!
Sometimes, you walk into a hotel room and the air in the atmosphere is just too dang hot. You can turn the air conditioning on, but sometimes that can take a while to get going. A fast way to get the A/C pumping is to dampen a towel and put it by the vents or near an open window.
The cool water from the towel will help get cooler air pumped into the room in a faster way. Voila! A cooler room in less the time.
Don’t Pay More For Internet
With many cell phone providers now offering unlimited data, you should never have to pay for internet at a hotel ever again, if you take advantage of such a plan.
Many hotels charge extra to use their wi-fi, but if you have unlimited data or a low data charge plan, just use your phone’s “hot spot” to connect your devices to the internet. This is especially helpful if you’re doing work while on your travels…
Steam Out Those Wrinkles
If you’re traveling for a special occasion — a business meeting or maybe a destination wedding — you’re probably packing some nice looking clothes as well. Even if you’re not, you don’t want to make a bad impression as a tourist wearing wrinkly T-shirts.
Sure, having an iron packed along, or requesting a room with an iron and a board, could help this, but who has time to iron? One simple solution is to hang up your clothes in the bathroom and take a steamy, hot shower. This is especially effective if you don’t need your non-wrinkled clothes right away, so you can take a couple of showers, leaving them hung up, to ensure they get two or three steams before you wear them out. Problem solved!
Call The Hotel Directly First
There are tons of websites that promise you huge savings if you book through them — but the true-and-tested method that still works best is booking with the hotel directly. You might even become privy to the “off the books” discounts that aren’t available through the third-party sites. Doing this in the off-season has even better chances of securing a deal, as managers are looking to fill their rooms up during this time. It’s just a simple phone call, and if you can’t get a discounted rate through them, hey, you can always log back into your web browser.
The Coffee Machine Is A Mini Kitchen Wonder
If you’re needing a caffeine rush, the coffee machine that’s provided in your room is a great help. But it can also be used for cooking any meal that requires warm-to-hot water. This is a hack that works well when you’re traveling or even at home — you can use a coffee maker for hot water meals like ramen noodles, for example, and it even works great for packaged oatmeal.
Just don’t forget to pack the packages in a safe place when you load up your suitcase!
Traveling with kids who don’t share the bed very nicely (those little rascals can sure kick!) makes traveling more difficult, especially if you end up having to share a bed. Even if you have your own bed, a pair of kids sharing their own bed can be problematic, as the two may argue over who gets which side.
An easier solution to this? Simply split the bed in half using your extra pillows. Put the pillows (and perhaps some extra blankets) down the middle, creating a clear boundary for the users of the bed to stick by.
Most hotel rooms, in the shower and bathroom area, offer free shampoos and soaps for you to use. Many people ignore the third thing they offer: free conditioner. Don’t! This product, even if you don’t use it in your hair, can be mighty useful.
Some have learned to use conditioner as a makeup remover. Others know it can be used as a type of shaving cream. It can also be utilized as a cuticle cream, too. So don’t ignore this bottle if you see it in your hotel room! Use it to the best of your advantage.
Shower Caps Can Do Amazing Things
Shower caps — does anyone actually use these? Unless you’re trying to preserve your hairstyle, you probably overlook these little gifts from the hotel. Don’t! Put them to good use instead. You can use them to put dirty items in when you’re traveling back from your destination, to keep them separate from your cleaner stuff in your suitcase. Maybe you went for a hike in your mountain boots, and you don’t want the dirt to track inside your luggage. Put your footwear inside the shower caps. Presto! Problem solved.
Smartphone Speaker From A Cup
It happens to the best of us — inevitably, we leave something at home that we wanted with us on our travels. Sometimes, that something is a Bluetooth speaker device that helps amplify our phone’s music. If you leave yours at home, don’t fret — there’s an easy fix.
You can actually amplify your phone’s music by putting it inside an empty cup, and the one that the hotel provides for you is usually the perfect size. No, it won’t give you the same volume that your speaker might, but it’s a step in the right direction, and it will stop you from buying a new speaker while you’re on your travels.
Stream Movies In Your Room
Like room service, buying movies in the hotel room can be a costly endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be. If you use a streaming service at home, bring it along with you.
Most hotels have TVs with HDMI or USB ports, and devices like Chromecasts or Rokus will allow you to connect your streaming apps from your phone to the TV in your room. You can also connect your laptop to your TV in many cases.
Use All The Charging Ports Available To You
If you’re a business traveler (or just someone who uses a lot of electronics, or traveling with your whole family), wall outlets are a commodity. You may find yourself “trading off” use for one thing in order to charge up another. If you’re hyper-connected, don’t forget about hidden charging ports, especially for devices like your phone or music player.
USB ports are in most smart TVs nowadays, and can be charged while your watching a show. Most hotel lamps also have been updated to include extra charging stations.
Painter’s Tape Is Invaluable If You Travel With Kids
Painter’s tape comes in handy for all sorts of reasons, beyond staying in a hotel. But if you have a kid who loves playing with toys (especially cars), the tape is the perfect way to set up a small highway system in your room.
If your kid is all over the place with their toys, this is the perfect way to keep them in-line. It’s also fun for them, so it’s a win-win! The tape comes off easily from the floor too, so there’s little-to-no mess involved.
The Unknown Diaper Changing Station
Changing a baby’s diaper is a monumental task. Doing it in a strange new place can be problematic for the both of you — you don’t quite know what to expect, and baby wants to look at everything around them (read: they’re a squirming mess).
Most hotels don’t come with changing tables, but if you have a changing pad, you can use the desk that they provide to you to help change your little one’s diaper. Don’t have the changing pad/accidentally left it at home? Use towels from the bathroom.
We’ve already helped you solve one baby-changing problem, but here’s another one: what are you going to do with those dirty, stinky diapers? Being stuck in a hotel room, that smell can quickly get annoying.
Lugging each diaper to the garbage outside of your room can be a tedious chore. Instead, ask the hotel manager for an extra, large trashcan or two. From those, you can create your own dirty diaper container. No more smell, and no more unnecessary trips…although we do suggest emptying it out at least once a day!
Go To The Grocery Store
If you arrive at a destination that’s nearby a grocery store, try to go there right away so that you can avoid doing fast food for every meal. It difficult in some places to pull off, but you can assemble meals out of simple snack items, like bread, small meats, cheeses, chips, veggies, dips, and juices. If you have a fridge in your room, that’s an added bonus.
There are plenty of recipes available online for travelers to consider, so keep that in mind as well.
‘Smell Ya Later’
If you’re traveling to a few destinations, your dirty clothes might start making your clean ones smell differently inside your luggage. Keeping these items separate from one another might not be enough, but there’s an easy solution: pack along fabric softener sheets, and place them in-between the two piles of clothes or even within the dirty ones. That’s a sure-fire way to keep your clean clothes smelling fresh, if you can’t access a laundry machine in the meantime.
Planning a visit to a different country? You’ll want to take advantage of this hack. Use Google Chrome’s incognito mode to search for hotel prices that way. Cookies in your browser tell the sites you visit where you’re from, and believe it or not, they can charge you more if you’re using a browser they detect to be in the U.S. By using the incognito mode, you ensure those cookies aren’t used, which helps you to find the best rate.
Yelp It Up
It may seem a little like cheating, but if you’re a regular Yelp or Trip Advisor user, casually mention this to the hotel manager when you check in. That will all but assure your stay will be a good one, as they won’t want to risk a bad review. You don’t necessarily need to say you’ll write them a good post, but don’t be a jerk about it either — don’t threaten bad reviews if you don’t get impeccable service. These sites also allow companies to respond back to reviewers, remember!
Time Is Money
If you know when and where you want to go for your next vacation, the next thing you need to figure out is when you’re going to book it. Doing so in the right calendar month is a strategic move that will save you money. You can get cheaper airfare by booking months in advance.
You also want to consider booking a trip in that area’s off-season. Doing so saves you a ton of cash, as it won’t be in high demand.
Wash Your Clothes In The Sink
Sometimes the fabric softener sheets just don’t cut it, however, and you need to wash your clothes. If you have smaller items, there’s an alternative to finding a laundromat or having the hotel wash your clothes (for a high fee, usually): you can use your bathroom sink instead.
Put a plastic bag at the bottom of the basin, using weights or even coins to weigh it down. Pour water in, and wash away. It’s as simple as that.
AAA Is A-Okay!
AAA isn’t just an organization that helps motorists — it also provides great advice, discounts, and tips for travelers when it comes to their lodgings, too. So consider becoming a member of the group, because hey, you want all of the above!
AAA will also help you with accommodations when it comes to renting a car in another country. Yes, public transportation is great beyond the U.S. borders, but it’s not perfect, and if you need a car, you’ll be happy to have AAA on your side.
If you’re flying somewhere, you can save a ton of money (if you’ve decided to use third-party booking companies) by “bundling” your package. Book the flight and hotel together, and you can save up to hundreds, depending on the locale.
There are a few things to look out for: you have to pay up front, for instance, and if you want to cancel, that’s usually a hastle that involves extra fees. With those things in mind, however, if you book strategically, you could save big.
Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate
You have a lot more flexibility with prices when you’re dealing with stays that last a week or longer. You can even haggle a little bit when it comes to your prices. If you booked directly with the hotel, you can ask them about extended stay discounts — making getting an extra day free if you stay there for a week, or something like that. Who knows: you might not get what you initially asked for, but they might offer you a deal that excites you that you didn’t have in mind before, too.
Frequent Stayer? Remind Them Of Their Mess-Ups
If you stay at the same hotel regularly — if you’re a business traveler that goes to the same city often, and like to stay at the same lodgings when you do — don’t be afraid to voice up about the little things that are bothering you.
Doing so could result in a double-win: not only will you get what you need fixed remedied, but you may also get a discount for your stay on that occasion as a form of apology from the hotel. It pays to be the “squeaky wheel” every now and again.
Along the same lines of bringing up old problems, don’t be afraid to discuss new ones, whether you’re a frequent guest or not. If there’s a problem with your sink, bring it up. If you need more towels, don’t hesitate to ask. If there’s something wrong with the room itself, tell the front desk — it’s their job to make things to your liking (within reason, of course), and voicing an issue could result in their trying to resolve it…which sometimes includes upgrades or other perks.
Act Like A Shopper
Compare and contrast. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a consumer in the supermarket, and that’s what you should do as a buyer of hotel rooms. The same holds true for those third-party sites — sometimes, one gives you an offer that’s a completely different price than another’s, for the same hotel room. Do your homework and shop around before you decide to book. And of course, if you know which hotel you want, call them directly first, to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Music In The Room
Some hotel rooms are starting to include a special feature. This is happening more and more as smartphone technology is becoming more widespread. They actually equip their rooms with an outlet where you can play your music from. How fantastic! Hopefully, more rooms will equip themselves with this sort of thing.
Until then, you can use the trick we cited before — the “phone in the cup” maneuver, which amplifies your smartphone throughout (most) of your room.
Steam. We told you to use it to help get the wrinkles out of your clothes before, but it can be a hastle to get off the mirror when you’ve just taken a shower, and want to style your hair or do your makeup. Sure, you can use a towel to get rid of it, but then you’ve lost use of the towel in the future, until staff gives you a fresh set.
Here’s a tip, and you can use it at home, too: Rub the mirror with a bar of soap, then use a dry washcloth to buff if off. That will prevent the steam in the future from forming on the mirror.
Do Not Disturb
Don’t be afraid to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign out — even when you’ve left the room. Yes, you might want to keep it off the door for when you actually want the room to be cleaned, but otherwise, keeping the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door knob is a good idea. Why? It prevents others — perhaps robbers or burglars — from thinking the room isn’t occupied. It’s an old trick, but one worth mentioning for those who are concerned about their personal belongings…
Setting Your Own Temps
Some hotels actually dictate how warm or cold your room can be. They even set up motion controls so that the room can’t be cold (or warmed) while you’re out and about. This saves them money, but can cause you incredible discomfort. There’s a hack for this as well.
You can hold the “display” button down on some thermostats. While holding that button down, press the “off” button. Release the “off” button, but continue to hold the display button down, then press the “up” arrow button. After that, release all buttons, and you should be good to direct what temperatures YOU want set for your room. It’s a strange combination, but for many places, it works.
You’re probably already aware that you can ask for your own towels (and extras) at most hotels, but did you know you can also request dishes and silverware? This is especially helpful if you brought your own food along for the trip.
The method tends to help travelers save money. If you have the dishes present, it keeps your mind on the fact that you have your own food to eat — and cuts down on spending you might have otherwise done.
Worth The Gamble
This tip doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s well-worth the money you spent. You’re more likely to get extra attention for your room from guest services if you fork over a bigger tip upon entering the place.
One individual named Elizabeth Houck touted this rule as helpful to her during one of her stays. “I simply pull out a $20 bill, fold it, and place it under my cupped hand at the counter; reception always notices,” she said. “If I get a special view, or upgrade, or some other perk, they get the money; if nothing is available I’ve not committed myself.”
Who Doesn’t Love A Celebration?
Maybe you’re traveling for a special occasion — a spouse’s birthday, your anniversary, or something else. Don’t feel like you have to hide that fact — share it with your bellhop or other hotel staff, and you’re likely to get something special sent your way.
It might be something simple…maybe a cake or a small treat. But who knows: you might be able to snag a special suite for your occasion. Celebrate openly, and you might be pleasantly surprised!
Ask For Price Matching
This is another hack that doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try. If you have a hotel that you’re heart is set on, still look at the other prices that are available elsewhere. Then, ask if your preferred hotel will do a “price match.”
Some hotels will, others won’t, but again it’s worth a shot. You may find out that your sleuthing will pay off, especially if the two hotels offer similar services for their guests, but the one you’re at is charging more.
Booking The Day Before
If you know where you’re going, and don’t care where you stay exactly (hotel-wise), this tip is for you. But it does require you to be very brave! Sometimes, you can book the hotel for the place you’re traveling to a day or two before you actually go, and you’ll save a lot of money. We don’t recommend you doing this if there’s a big event coinciding with your travels, however, as it could mean that you end up traveling somewhere with nowhere to sleep!
But it does work. Kristin Addis, a travel writer, explains. “You can get a room somewhere like Las Vegas the day of or the day before for much, much less, but of course you must be very flexible,” she said.