50 Clever Hotel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know
When staying at a hotel, we all want to be as comfortable as possible. After all, who wouldn’t want a good night’s sleep after a long day?
Unfortunately, not all hotels are perfect. Unless you’re staying in a luxury hotel with all the modern amenities and conveniences you can ever ask for, not everything will be up to your standards, and not all of your needs will be met.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to make your stay a much more pleasant one, all without requiring too much effort, and without breaking the bank! From money-saving tips to do-it-yourself solutions, here are some clever hotel hacks that every traveler needs to know.
1. Forget third-party booking sites
Forget third-party platforms like Booking.com or Hotels.com – try booking with the hotel directly! Most hotels are more than happy to offer the best deals to guests who book with them directly so they don’t have to pay these booking sites a commission.
You could also score even better deals by joining their loyalty program. Most major hotel chains have one, and most are free to join! Hotels typically offer a wide range of benefits for loyalty program members who book directly, such as free night stays, room upgrades, or complimentary meals.
2. Inform the hotel about special occasions
Whether it’s your birthday, graduation, honeymoon, or wedding anniversary, be sure to let the hotel know all about it! Write a note in the comments box when booking online, or mention it if you’re making a reservation over the phone.
Chances are, you’ll get a free room upgrade, or they’ll give you a special gift like a bottle of champagne. After all, the hotel would want nothing more than to make your stay extra memorable so you will talk to your friends and family about it!
3. Keep all the toiletries
The hotel’s towels and bathrobes may not be yours for the taking, but those tiny soaps and bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, and lotion certainly are! Don’t hesitate to take as many as you can – you already paid for them, even if they don’t show up on your bill.
Even if you don’t use them right away, they will surely come in handy for camping trips, sleepovers, or long plane rides. You can also place them in little bags to donate to the homeless.
4. Use a hanger to keep curtains closed
If you’re feeling jet-lagged, you might find yourself dozing off in the middle of the day. However, no matter how exhausted you are, catching up on sleep may be a challenge if your hotel room has those curtains that always seem to leave a gap in the middle.
To remedy this, grab a few hangers from the closet and use the clamps at the bottom to keep the curtains tightly closed. You’ll never have to worry about unwanted light entering your room ever again!
5. Use the ironing board as a desk or table
If you don’t have enough space in your room for all your personal items, check the closet for an ironing board. If there isn’t one, try asking the folks at the reception desk if they can have one sent to your room.
Aside from using the ironing board as an extra shelf, you can also use it as a work desk or as a dining table. Just remember to cover the ironing board with a towel to avoid staining it!
6. Put the laundry bag to good use
Many hotels have a laundry service for their guests, which is why laundry bags are provided in each room. However, if you’re not planning to take advantage of your hotel’s laundry service, why not use the laundry bags for something else instead?
You can use the laundry bag to separate dirty clothes from unused ones in your luggage. You can also use it to store snacks or act as a trash bag to keep your car clean during the long drive home.
7. Use shower caps to store your dirty shoes
Picture this: you’re in your hotel room packing your bags before catching your flight when, to your horror, you realize you don’t have anything to store your dirty pair of shoes in. It’s late at night, and all the shops are closed. What do you do?
The answer is simple! Head into the bathroom and look for an unused shower cap. Simply wrap the shower cap around the soles of your shoes, toss your shoes into your luggage along with the rest of your stuff, and you’re good to go!
8. Wrap the remote control in plastic
With so many rooms to go through each day, there’s always the possibility that cleaners will cut corners. No matter how clean your room looks, there will always be certain areas and things that are covered in bacteria and germs.
The remote control, for instance, is one item that rarely gets disinfected. Just think about how often you clean your remote control at home! To reduce your chances of getting sick, simply wrap the remote control in a clear plastic bag.
9. Child-proof your room with band-aids
Unfortunately, most hotel rooms aren’t designed with babies and small children in mind. If you’re traveling with your kids in tow, it might be a good idea to pack some band-aids in your luggage so you can use them to child-proof your hotel room!
Use the band-aids to cover any open electrical outlets to keep your children safe from electrocution. You can also use them to keep electrical wires or extension cords pinned down so that your kids won’t accidentally trip and injure themselves.
10. Use the heat from the toaster to defrost butter
Getting cold, hard butter served to you at breakfast can be frustrating. Trying to spread the butter will probably result in bread that’s torn, or a piece of toast with a large chunk of butter in the middle.
If you want to keep this from happening, try putting the small packs of butter on top of the toaster while you’re warming up your bread. The heat from the toaster will help melt the butter and make it easier to spread.
11. Use the shower as a garment steamer
Trying to fit all your clothes into your suitcase will surely get them wrinkled. This can be especially annoying if you’re traveling for an important business meeting or if you’re attending a wedding and you want to look your best.
If you want to get rid of those wrinkles, simply hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. All that steam can help get rid of most (if not all) of those wrinkles in no time!
12. Keep your toothbrush off the bathroom counter
You probably don’t lay your toothbrushes directly on your bathroom counter at home, so why would you even think of doing that in a hotel room? If you want to keep your toothbrush germ-free, consider this simple solution.
Just flip a paper or plastic cup upside down, then poke a hole in the middle using the toothbrush handle to create a makeshift toothbrush holder. Now, you no longer have to worry about the toothbrush bristles touching the countertop.
13. Keep your wet swimsuits in ice bucket bags
If the hotel you’re staying in has a pool, then you’re probably going to use it at some point. Once it’s time to pack your bags, are you just going to stuff your wet swimsuits into your luggage and risk getting your other clothes wet?
If you want your clothes (and other personal items) to stay dry, take the plastic bag in the ice bucket and toss your wet swimsuits inside. Make sure that the top of the bag is properly tied before placing it in your luggage.
14. Use the TV to charge your phone
If you left your phone charger at home, there’s no need to panic! If you have your phone’s USB cable with you, just plug it into the USB port of your hotel room’s TV. Most smart TVs these days have one!
If this isn’t an option, try dropping by the front desk to ask if they can lend you a charger. They most likely have a bunch of chargers in the lost and found that you can borrow.
15. Redirect the air coming from the A/C unit
If your hotel room’s air conditioning unit is positioned too close to the bed and you’d rather not have a stream of cold air blowing directly on your body or face while you sleep, try moving some furniture around.
If your room has a sturdy chair, try placing it right in front of the A/C vent to redirect the flow of air. You can also do this using other objects like a couch, an ironing board, or a piece of luggage.
16. Block out light and noise with a towel
Some hotel rooms have a huge gap under the door, allowing light from the hallway to enter the room. This can be annoying if you’ve had a long day and all you want is to get a good night’s sleep.
To block out the light, take one of the used bath towels in the bathroom and place it under the door. Depending on how thick the towel is, this can also be a good way to muffle the noise coming from outside.
17. Keep the room humidified using a wet towel
If the air in your hotel room feels a bit dry and you don’t have a humidifier, try using your room’s air conditioning unit instead. All you need is a wet towel and something to hold it in place, like a luggage rack.
Just drape the towel over the luggage rack and place it near the A/C unit. If you want to keep your room properly humidified through the night, just keep one end of the towel soaked in a bucket of water.
18. Keep your phone within reach
Not all hotel rooms have a bedside table on either side of the bed. If you want to keep your phone, glasses, wallet, or other personal items right next to you while you sleep, then you’ll love this simple hack!
All you need to do is to untuck the top end of your bed sheet and rewrap it to create a horizontal pocket. Now you have a nice little storage space to keep everything you need within your reach.
19. Use the kettle for some disinfecting
If you intend to use the mugs, glasses, spoons, and forks in your hotel room, it would probably be a good idea to disinfect them first. Just boil some water using the kettle and use the boiling water to wash them.
If you’re really super paranoid about germs and want to go the extra mile to get rid of them, just head on over to a nearby supermarket or convenience store and grab a travel-sized bottle of dishwashing liquid and a sponge.
20. Keep food and drinks cool with a makeshift cooler
If your room doesn’t have a fridge or if you’ve run out of fridge space, you can still keep your food and drinks cool with the help of a makeshift cooler! All you need is some ice – lots of it – and your sink!
Just fill your sink with ice from the hotel’s ice machine or a nearby convenience store and carefully place your food and drinks on top of the ice. This will keep them nice and cool for several hours.
21. Use a mug as a makeshift speaker
Packing light is a must for any traveler. This means leaving your bulky Bluetooth speakers behind! If you want to play some music while you unwind in your hotel room, here’s one cool hack that you can try out.
Simply get a mug or bowl and place your phone inside it. While you can’t expect the same sound quality as a high-end Bluetooth speaker, the sounds will surely be louder! Just don’t play the music too loud to avoid disturbing the other guests.
22. Connect your laptop to the TV
When you’re visiting a foreign country and don’t speak the local language, the chances of finding anything good to watch on TV in your hotel room are pretty slim. If your room has WiFi and a smart TV, why not stream your entertainment through your phone or laptop instead?
Just plug in a Chromecast device (or something similar) and watch a movie or TV show from whatever streaming service you’re subscribed to. You can also connect your laptop to the TV using an HDMI cable.
23. Make yourself a snack with the help of an iron
Most hotel rooms don’t have a microwave or stove, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a late-night snack! If you’re craving a grilled cheese sandwich, you can easily make one in your room – all you need is an iron and some aluminum foil!
First, prepare the sandwich as usual and wrap it in aluminum foil. Then, press the hot iron against either side of the sandwich. This should be ready to eat in a matter of minutes!
24. Solve your pillow issues with some towels
Have you ever been in a situation where one pillow in your hotel room is too soft, and the other one is too low? If this happens to you, consider this easy fix.
If your pillow is too low, take a few towels from the bathroom and place them underneath the pillow. Add more towels if necessary. As for those extra-fluffy pillows, fold a towel and stuff it inside the pillowcase – this should help add a bit more firmness to your pillow.
25. Use duct tape to cover bright lights
Falling asleep when you’re in a new environment can be tough, which is why it’s important to minimize distractions. But what do you do if the blinking lights from the smoke detector and other electronic devices in your room are keeping you awake?
The answer is simple – grab some duct tape or electrical tape and use it to cover those pesky blinking lights. These can easily be removed the next day after you’ve enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
26. Plug your drain with a plastic bag and some coins
Have you ever looked forward to a nice bath in your hotel room after a long day, only to realize that the bathtub’s drain plug is broken or missing? If you ever find yourself in this situation again, there’s no need to despair!
First, grab a plastic bag and some coins. Next, place the plastic bag over the drain then drop a few coins inside to hold the bag in place. Finally, start filling the tub with water. Now, enjoy your bath!
27. Use a matchbook to file your nails
Most hotels no longer allow smoking on their premises. However, some hotels still give out matchbooks as a souvenir. Other hotels also sell these at their gift shop. If your nails require a quick touch-up but you forgot to bring a nail file, use the hotel matchbook instead.
Here’s a fun fact: a matchbook’s striking surface is mostly made of the same material as a typical nail file, so this should be perfectly safe to use on your nails!
28. Make a facial scrub with sugar and lotion
Give yourself a DIY facial treatment without spending a fortune! All you need is a packet of sugar and a bottle of lotion, both of which are readily available in most hotel rooms.
Simply open the packet of sugar and empty the contents into the bottle of lotion to make a facial scrub. Gently apply the mixture to your face, leave it on for several minutes, then rinse. This should help make your skin feel nice and smooth in an instant.
29. Stash your cash in unlikely places
Your hotel room is supposed to be your home away from home. However, unlike your actual home, other people – like hotel staff – can easily access your room. If you have some extra cash lying around, remember to hide it before you leave your room.
If your room doesn’t have a safe, you can hide your money in your hairbrush. Just peel the rubber portion of a flat hairbrush then place your cash underneath. Put the rubber part back into position, then keep your brush in your suitcase.
30. Hack your room’s key card system
To reduce electricity costs, most hotels these days use a key card system. Your room will most likely have a slot on the wall where you’ll need to place your key card to activate the power in the room.
If you need to charge your phone while you’re at the pool, just replace the key card with a business card or loyalty card and the power should stay on. This may not work in all hotels, but it’s worth a try!
31. Keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door
If you don’t want people to enter your room and do some housekeeping while you’re away, just leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Hotel staff will see this sign and stay away from your room even if you’re not actually there.
Leaving the “Do Not Disturb” sign at the door can also keep away thieves who might try to break into your room while you’re away. Consider doing this if you’re checked into a hotel with rooms that have doors on the outside of the building.
32. Make delicious meals with a kettle
Eating out all the time when you’re traveling on a limited budget might not be such a good idea. If you want to save money, you can easily whip up delicious meals in your room – all you need is a kettle, some water, and a little bit of creativity.
Aside from using it to boil water to make instant ramen or oatmeal, you can also use the kettle to boil some corn or hotdogs. You can even chop up some veggies and make soup!
33. Forget room service
It may be tempting to just order room service at the end of an exhausting day, but you’ll have to pay extra if you want the convenience of having a plate of chicken fingers and fries sent to your room.
If you want to pay less for that same meal, get yourself out of bed and go down to the restaurant to eat. You can also order it to go instead if you’d rather enjoy your meal in the privacy of your room.
34. Save some food for later
If you have a long car ride ahead of you, it may be a good idea to save some food from the breakfast buffet for later. Try getting a few slices of toast or some packets of peanut butter and jelly in case anyone wants a sandwich.
If you want something healthier instead, get some fruit like bananas or apples. You can also pick up some packs of yogurt for the fridge – just don’t forget to bring disposable spoons.
35. Score some freebies at the gym
Even if you don’t intend to work out at the hotel gym, you might want to check it out anyway – hotels usually provide guests using the gym with all sorts of freebies which might come in handy later.
If the gym offers free water from a dispenser, for instance, be sure to fill up your water bottles before you check out. If they have complimentary bottles of water, go ahead and take a few. This will help you save money as you won’t need to buy some water while you’re on your way home.
36. Exercise Before You Travel
Long hours in a car or on a plane can be brutal. Sitting for extended periods of time can be even worse. This is especially true if you are accustomed to getting lots of physical activity each day. That’s why you should workout before you depart.
Tire yourself out. Hitting the gym or going for a run can burn off any extra energy. You may even fall asleep on the flight faster. But exercise affects your mood too. Working out boosts endorphins, which will help keep your mood upbeat and positive during the stressors of travel.
37. Absorb Odors
Now let’s dive into some top packing and luggage tips to assist with your travels. Trekking in the countryside is known to be beneficial for the mind and body. It’s become popular as it allows you to get close to nature while exploring lesser-known paths.
It won’t take long for your clothes to smell in a humid atmosphere, especially once you’ve changed and put used items in your bag. Simply pack a dryer sheet in your belongings so it can absorb odor while keeping everything fresh for longer.
38. Handle with Care
Most passengers travel with at least one thing that needs to be handled with care. If a delicate item is placed in luggage that isn’t marked fragile, it could be thrown around or damaged under the weight of other bags.
Mark luggage as fragile to keep the bag from being mishandled. Even if you don’t have breakable items in it, at least you won’t have to wait long at baggage claim as they see to it that these items are prioritized.
39. Use Unique Luggage or Tags
You want your bags to stand out. Airports are littered with black and silver luggage. Beyond a fashion statement, it will make the process of claiming your bag off the turnstile much easier. If you desire to find your bag more quickly, buy luggage that’s unique.
Add a pop of color, design, or pattern. Bright colors, like yellow or red, are easy to spot. Or, personalize a common-colored bag with bumper stickers and decals. At the very least, get a luggage tag that will be easily identifiable.
40. Pack Tennis Balls in Your Carry-on Luggage
If you’re preparing for a long flight, you may want to pack a tennis ball or two in your carry-on. Why a tennis ball you ask? Well, this compact, everyday object is easy to fit in your luggage, it will get past TSA without an issue, and it will serve as a makeshift massager for long flights.
That’s right, rolling a tennis ball along your body on longer flights will help stimulate blood flow throughout the trip and help prevent blood clots. Sitting down for hours on a flight at high altitudes has been known to cause blood clotting. That’s why it’s often advised to get up, walk around, and stretch your legs once in a while. However, with a simple tennis ball, you can also get your blood circulating by massaging it along your arms and legs. Doing so may even save your life!
41. Stay Fresh
It might be challenging to stay fresh all throughout a long flight, road trip, or throughout your travels. If you’re going for the whole gamut, the longest non-stop trip could last around 18 hours.
Staying fresh and comfortable is key in a situation where you’re practically tied to a chair for so long. Change your clothes, bring extra underwear, freshen up, and avoid drinking liquids other than water. You wouldn’t want to wake up the next morning smelling like yesterday.
42. Make Sure You Have Some Pockets
Hands-free may be required at any given time. Throughout the check-in process, you may need to use one or both of your hands. You’ll also be passing off your luggage too, so the amount you can carry is limited. Having pockets is incredibly valuable when traveling.
Dress appropriately by wearing pants or a jacket that has pockets. Therefore, you’ll have a place to put your keys, wallet, phone, passport, or any other essentials.
43. Download Some Entertainment Ahead of Time
Prepare for “airplane mode” by downloading movies and TV shows beforehand via a streaming app. This way, you can binge content without tearing through your data or being reliant on a WiFi connection. If you get motion sickness from watching a screen, try downloading some music, podcasts, or audiobooks instead to pass the time.
Remember that the amount of content you can stock up on requires hard drive space. Plan for unexpected delays by deleting older entertainment that you’ve already watched or listened to.
44. Power Source
Mobile phones are now a constant companion, especially for travelers who need to contact distant friends and family. In a new city, finding your way around via the many useful apps and maps your phone has can be a lifesaver.
Phones have become indispensable, so it makes sense to bring a portable power source to ensure your lifesaving device never dies. Choose one that’s light and sleek to bring along during long flights.
45. Meet New Friends
Traveling in the company of old friends is hard to organize in a real-world setting. It can be hard to agree on a given date, and money could be an issue, among many other things. Still, it’s nice to have somebody to share your adventures with.
Thankfully, apps like Backpackr and Travel Buddies allow you to meet other travelers for these exact reasons. You can chat, meet up, and travel together if you wish. At the very least, you can swap travel hacks and advice.
46. Navigating the Easy Way
When out and about on an adventure, it is a good idea to use a map to familiarize yourself in advance. Wireless connections are not always guaranteed in all areas, and your network operator might have roaming connectivity issues in the location to which you’re heading.
Download the map when you have the chance for a quick study. That way, if Google Maps can’t be accessed when in the field, your offline version can be pulled out, allowing you to navigate to wherever you want to go.
47. Spontaneity Is Key
A long flight or trip to a new city or country can be an escape from everyday life for those who are tired of uniformity. It is symbolic of a new start and a brand new outlook that is exciting and spontaneous.
There’s magic in knowing you’re going places unplanned, without the typical restraints. Enjoy a trip without an itinerary and see where each day takes you. You may be surprised at how relaxing and enlightening such an adventure can be.
48. Blend in with the Locals
Instead of going out to popular tourist spots for selfies, delve in and meet the locals. It can be a fascinating experience to gradually learn a new language and be immersed in customs and traditions other than your own.
Party with a Local is an app that allows you to get to know the locals, and of course, party with them. It also gives updated suggestions on where to hang out when you’re in the area.
49. Touring and Backpacking
To go on a tour or backpacking excursion requires more detailed planning. Otherwise, the journey could quickly become costly and time-consuming, which defeats the purpose of attempting to become the pro-traveler all backpackers are perceived to be.
You don’t have to unload your bag at every hostel you visit for a quick stay. Only take out what is needed, and plan what those items will be. Place them in easy reach in your bag to save time getting prepared for the next adventure.
50. Independent Tour
Finding a dependable tour guide can be tricky, especially for a first-timer in an unfamiliar region. If you’re traveling solo, any tour you take could be priced as a one-on-one, making it many times more expensive than regular group tours. It’s even more challenging when traveling off-season.
With this in mind, it might be best to be your own tour guide. If you haven’t done this before, now is as good a time as any. Use the Google Goggles app to take pictures of landmarks and other beautiful locations, and the app will send you interesting facts about them.