Hotel room hacks

Here is a WaPo article on hotel room hacks, a recent viral topic, and here are other recent sources.

My #1 suggestion is simply that some pillows are too high and too hard, so bring enough of your own cloth material so you can build your own pillow if need be.  And travel with an eye mask.  And always travel with a sweater, even in the summer — it is a remarkably versatile object.

I would also say this: when in doubt simply turn the heating system off, if you can.

What are your hotel room hacks?


(1) Bring a clip for securing the blinds in a shut position.
(2) Ear plugs. Always!
(3) Do stuff that minimizes time in the room.
(4) Generously tip the housekeeping staff.

There’s almost always a hangar in the closet with clips. I use two of those to secure the blackout curtains shut.

Aaaand I just went back and RTFA and saw I was just parroting the tweet that started this whole thing. Great!

Bring my own alcohol to upgrade the morning coffee =)

That's the first one that doesn't sound like some cry baby nonsense!

I always bring a hoody (similar to sweater idea)
Woolite or similar cleaner (plus a tide laundry stick)
Instant coffee individual serving packs
Plastic bags and portable water bottle

My wife likes to bring over her boyfriend. I like to bring the instant noodles, except they sometimes get too limp.

(1) Earplugs are a must.

(2) Change rooms until you find one you like. You aren't the only available room in the hotel more often than not. If you go to your room and don't like it, change it immediately And again. And again. They aren't a charity. Be assertive. I'm always amazed at how many people accept crappy or defective rooms.

(3) Change hotels if above fails. They will argue cancelation fees but you can win the contestation with your credit card company. You aren't required to pay for inferior or fraudulent services. There is an expected level of normative hotel quality as well as their marketing material. If they can't live up to that just walk out and get the hotel across the street immediately.

(4) Stop by a grocery, get a case of bottled water, ideally with gas if in a third world country.

(5) Never have a room with an adjoining door, first floor, or overlooking the pool. Many people are on holiday, the hotel will run some sort of loud event in the pool area until late and then your drunken neighbors will come back and you can hear them all night via the lack of soundproofing on that adjoining door.

Okay, I will bite, why would you want to have water WITH Gas if you are in a third world country.

Because shops might be selling unfiltered or even tap water disguised as bottled.

Ah ha

Yeah what he said. It is common enough in third world nations to find the local store repackaging/rebottling major brands on a variety of products. In the case of bottled still water often with the same local tap/well/river water you are trying to avoid hence better to get with gas as it's not as often rebottled or, when so, at a higher quality more centralized professional location generally resulting in a better safety profile than the local gas station owner's kid out back with a bucket, hose, and bottle cap sealer recycling cases of used Aquafina bottles from garbage and putting them back on the shelf. You might think "but the poor quality of the bottles will give it away" but not really. You spend enough time in the sticks you will quickly learn everything arrives to your door in less than ideal condition from transportation and storage hence a legitimately new bottle really looks the same as a beat up one that has been recycled a half dozen times.

Assume every object in your hotel room has been used for a deviant purpose by a lonely traveler.

Three cohorts:

Sweater, fleece, hoodie.

More good practices than 'hacks':
-if you use the safe, put a shoe on it so you don't forget the contents when checking out
-Wear crocs or equivalent inside, carpet could be nasty if there is one-keep your suitcase off the floor so it doesn't become a vector for pests; check for any signs of bed bugs with the bed at the headframe
-if possible, try to get some exercise so you are worn out that night, as some have trouble sleeping in other beds
-unplug the useless desk alarm since it is an annoying light source and could be set at bad time and may not even be accurate
-buy a camp packable valet tray or small basket a place to place wallets, keys, etc.
-if you stay at a home share service, check for cameras in the bathroom and bedrooms

Bring some simple food that can be eaten after being boiled in water, using the room's coffee maker. This will save megabux on room service, especially if you get to your room late at night. Instant ramen noodles are a good candidate for this sort of thing.

Don't drink tap water if you're in a new country. The local equivalent of Montezuma's Revenge wouldn't be pleasant. (Water discipline while traveling is a whole additional topic.)

Yes, ear plugs!

Bring a power strip, especially if you're going to a possibly-older hotel so you can plug in your gadgets. Accessible plugs are always a premium.

Universal plug converter and lots of standard conversion plugs for the area you're going to (especially Europe). Easy to lose just one or two.

Always ask to examine the room before finalizing check-in. First thing to look for: run water in the tub and sink to make sure that drains are open. Who wants to stand ankle deep in watercontaminated by the drain trap contents?

Make sure you have a contingency plan to hire a prostitute

The bathrobe belt usually makes a good yoga strap. (Admittedly most people won't find that helpful, but I keep my favorite stretching/yoga audio routine on my computer and phone and try to do it every day when travelling, especially on travel days.)

(I also agree with "Go grocery shopping" above, especially if there's a fridge. - I find I eat a lot less junk if I buy some relatively good snacks and drinks, and it makes the room feel more like home.)

Yes to earplugs, though I've never needed a sleep mask. I have a 10 ft usb cable and a passthrough charging battery, so when there's only one good plug we can route the usb cable to the other side of the bed and use the battery as a second power station for phones and watches.

If we're in country longer than a few days, we always plan accommodations with a washing machine every so often (airb&b has a handy search filter), and pack a few detergents pods.

If we're in a country with questionable water, we bring our own water filter.

Always bring a small roll of black masking tape to tape over any annoying status lights on TV, clock radio, AC etc in the room.

Can echo that.

I use black insulation tape for that purpose. One strip shields of any light emitted by LEDs, you can Tore it off the roll with your fingers and it is super easy to peel off the later on.

Consider closing your eyes

I completely agree. Some hotel rooms come with a remarkable range of LED lights: red on the TV, blue on the A/C control, green for the smoke alarm. A few even flash. The blue ones especially can be astonishingly intense. You don’t notice when you first put the light off, so if you are lucky enough to sleep right through the night, perhaps ‘close your eyes’ is a sufficient remedy. But I always wake up at least once and the room is flooded with harsh mainly blue light - often really bright, enough to throw shadows. The last hotel I stayed in had a blue LED on every single power socket that lit up merrily when it was in use. Drives me crazy. Masking tape’s a good idea.

Put your hotel room thermostat in 'VIP mode' to make the room as cold as you want:

Always check under the mattress in case a past guest has left a sleep-ruining pea there.

Remote controls for televisions are never sanitized. Use the ice bucket liner and pick up the remote like dog poop so you do not have to touch it.

It's amazing how afraid of the world some people are.

My thoughts exactly when I see the amount of people worried about remotes and the carpet. They would have a heart attack if they knew I often laid on the floor, no towel, and stretched on the morning lol. I'm trying to imagine them swimming in the ocean in a drysuit cause the ocean has pooping it lol

-Always check the alarm clock to make sure it is turned off so that you don't wake up before you have to. I always use my cell phone alarm to get me up.
-If you are of a certain age where nature calls in the middle of the night make sure there is a clear path to the bathroom

Avoid fancy hotels. If possible, stay at a motel in eastern Oregon. $70. No waiting for elevators. Better wifi than many hotels in, e.g., DC. Can open window and get good fresh air. No need to tear the bed apart to get in it. Pillows satisfactory. Never had problem with bugs. Ear plugs only if you are bothered by crickets.

"If possible, stay at a motel in eastern Oregon."

That's awfully specific. Also seems a bit inconvenient if you're visiting, say Paris, or Tokyo.

I never thought of earplugs* even though I have a mother who carries multiples and offers them to family members at the movies.

I don't fly, and I don't vacation in cities, so mostly we camp or stay in park cabins or old restored train hotels or those little KOA camping cabins. If a motel is unavoidable, it can't be one of the newer ones where the room gives onto an interior hallway - I have to stay in a true motor hotel, that opens to the outside. Preferably old, and there have to be a few trees. And I'd rather there be no big rigs idling nearby. On the other hand, I really don't mind feedlots all that much, or trains. For the most part, I'm good at picking motels but I've had some bad nights. I don't care a whit about the condition of the room - it's the other people. I guess for the sake of the housekeeping, they like to cluster people together even when there are plenty of vacancies ...

Prolly the worst was one night in a town hopefully and misleadingly called Riviera, on the Texas Gulf coast. If you only stay in nice hotels, you may not know how thin motel walls can be. That's to be expected, of course - but it's lately been made worse by modern flat-screen TVs bolted to the walls, same spot either side, which seems to turn the wall into an amplifier. Making it sound not like the drone of old, but like you have *your* TV turned on. Which was exactly what was happening that night; and it was tuned to Fox News or MSNBC, and I could hear a brittle blond voice (don't ask, I just knew) interspersed with "Trump, Trump, Trump." Being very sleepy, I stuck something between the wall and our-side TV (THAT'S YOUR TIP), and broke the amplification effect enough to drift off. After midnight I woke up, and it was still going blazes, and I became a bit manic. I banged on the door. No response; are you kidding me? Open the door and face your enemy! I sent husband off to get the nice Indian proprietor, who explained that there was no one in that room at all - that guy goes fishing at night. He went in and turned off the TV. Bliss.

Approx. 3:30 AM, waked again: guy has pulled in, truck and boat - and turned on the TV!

Blind with rage, heedless of my attire, I banged on his door. He was clearly subhuman, but he agreed to turn off the TV, though he said peevishly, "You parked in my spot."

I was winding up again - "Your .... spot? It's a f***ing motel!" - but remembered my dignity, and took a chilly leave.

Next motel stay, some time later, was El Paso. The place was by no means full, and my husband asked the Indian guy if it would be possible to have a room not adjacent to anyone else. He explained that his wife was sensitive to noise. He related what had happened with the noisy TV, and perhaps implied it would save everyone a lot of grief.

Perplexingly, the guy apologized profusely for this incident that had happened a thousand miles away from his motel, and gave us a nice discount.

*I guess it will come as no surprise, I don't like to put things in my ears ...

“I could hear a brittle blond voice (don't ask, I just knew) interspersed with "Trump, Trump, Trump." ”

So, it was set on CNN? Lol

Anyhow, good story.

Tyler Cowen writes a lot here about international travel, but this comment is a reminder that there are also a variety of travel experiences available within the United States.

I share your pillow opinion Tyler. They are inevitably too puffy and too high. in some cases you can pre request a feather pillow. But, most times, instead of using my own fabric, I simply create a pillow of a towel. The towels are always clean unlike the bed covers, and in good hotels, they are made of quite soft fabric.
The other thing I do is Recon on the fitness situation. Most hotel fitness rooms are ridiculous. They are just used cleaning closet to which they have put a very poor quality selection of a bicycle and a treadmill. and hotels that have pools seem to have them designed by people who have little interest in swimming but rather prefer to drink cocktails in the shallow end.
Instead, I either stay at the hotels that put cardio equipment in your room on request (Starwood had properties that do this) or find out in advance where the least expensive fitness center is in the neighborhood (like Gold's or 24 Hr), or if the hotel has some reciprocity agreement with a health club.

Get the quilt(s) off the bed asap they are not cleaned regularly and are on of the dirtiest items in a room. I put them at the bottom of the hotel door. Also the remote is filthy. And do not use the coffee maker it may have been used to cook/make meth.
It's evidently not a myth. Although I will continue to use my coffee maker if I need to

“Get the quilt(s) off the bed asap they...are one of the dirtiest items in a room”

“I put them at the bottom of the hotel door.”

Gee, maybe they wouldn’t be so dirty if people weren’t throwing them on the ground?

Depending on the nature of the external noise, earplugs may not be enough to address really erratic, percussive sounds. I always bring an ipod with white noise on it. The white noise cancels the external sounds, and the earplugs reduce the overall volume. It works for most situations.

little bit of gaffer to cover the annoying little blinking lights (tv or fire alarm)

It’s not a hack, just a personal quirk.

I’ve gotten increasingly fussy about bedding as I’ve gotten older. I now carry a queen size flat sheet on all my trips. I can usually adjust the heat well enough to sleep comfortably wrapped in the one sheet if I don’t like what’s on the bed.

In Asia I find pillows are often too few and too thin, and I sometimes can't find enough materials to bulk them up. There, I carry an inflatable travel pillow that lets me at least double the height

If you are traveling cross country by car, and you typically wake up before they put on the coffee at the hotel, bring a thermos and fill it at a truck stop or gas station before you settle in for the night. Then you won't have to mess with the tiny, dirty coffeemakers in the room or asking for extra coffee. Also, assuming you travel with a big cooler for beverages & snacks, bring a small cooler so you can carry a few drinks into the room with you. You can also use the small cooler as an ice bucket to fill your large cooler before you leave in the morning. To avoid having to carry large bags into your room every night, bring a couple of small bags that you can use to carry your clothes for the next day as well as any toiletries. If you are a smoker and can find a smoking room, bring at least one extra ashtray (like a covered car ashtray). Often even smoking rooms only have one ashtray if any. When you open the soap at the bathroom sink, keep the wrapper in one piece and use it as a soap holder if the room doesn't have one. Lots of plastic grocery bags come in handy for dirty clothes etc. I have noticed hotels providing less cups, laundry bags, etc., if you have room in the car bring some good styrofoam coffee cups with lids, much nicer than the paper cups in the room.

I splurged on an Orca cooler: not Yeti-expensive, but well-reviewed. The straps look like whale tails. I don't say that wasn't a factor in my decision.

To buy an Orca cooler is to commit to a certain program. You must pre-chill the cooler 24 hours before you leave. You must not begin with any warm items in the cooler. Of course, instead of loose ice, you must use either those cold packs or better, freeze blocks of ice in plastic jugs (which you may later drink, if they should melt - but if they melt, you were maybe not up to snuff as an Orca user). You may fill out the whole with ice - but commercial ice, not your weak home ice from the little trays. You must cover your cooler in a part of the car out of the sun, with a blanket or pillow.

We got it all packed up, so full we had to force it closed to strap down the whale tails.

He was nonplussed when I mentioned, after all that, we would really need to take a second cooler, for our lunch, because the final commitment to getting the best out of your Orca cooler is you're not to open it. At least, not casually, with reckless disregard for performance.

A soft dark t-shirt is so much better than an eye patch. Fold it over a few times and cover your eyes with it. You can tuck a little under your head if you want. It blocks all the light, and is much more comfortable than any eye patch.

Simple one for me. I always ask if the windows open in the rooms. Fire is one reason, though escaping is not always easy depending on the floor of course. But, more importantly to me, I love to open the window as outdoor air is usually much, much cleaner than the indoor air.
Unless it is either way to cold or way too hot, I've always got the window open. Fixed window hotels suck....whether you've got allergies or not you're better off with the windows open.
Yeah, if you're on the first floor you might be frightened of an intrusion, but I'll take my chances.

A ballpoint pen with top/clip will also keep shades closed.

Extension cord, night light, bring my own alcohol, ask for a refrigerator and bring or buy my own food, for long stays I bring my own shower head with flow control removed! I don't care about germs or lights - I can sleep in broad daylight.

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