Abstract: A seasoned travel professional shares hotel hacks designed to help you get more out of your next hotel stay. In this article we share 31 Hotel Hacks from actual Travel Professionals.
So, what’s a travel pro? Great question. These are the weekly road warriors. The folks traveling for work who fly out on Monday and back on Friday. They are the grinders. There’s no leisure travel here – it’s go, go go. They are the ones you should pay attention to because they know how to travel!
Note: this article was previously published as 20 Hotel Hacks for the Savvy Business Traveler. It’s been almost completely rewritten and expanded. Enjoy!
The business traveler spends countless nights in different hotel beds across multiple time zones followed each morning by crummy hotel room coffee as they race to meet their next customer.
But, the savviest business travel pros also know exactly how to get the most out of their hotel experience. They know how to pick the right place by just looking at the picture. They never waste time or money on silly things like an expensive hotel breakfast. They always get upgraded to a suite and they are always earning more bonus points than you!
Which, is why you ought to listen to them from time to time!
Here are the 31 Hotel Hacks brought to by seasoned travel professionals to help you level up your hotel game.
We’ve divided this list of hotel hacks into the following categories:
- Hotels Hacks for Picking/Booking your hotel
- Hotel Hacks for checking in / out
- Hotel Hacks for staying safe
- Hotels Hacks for the room / stay itself
Let’s jump in!
Hotel Hacks for Picking a Hotel
Here are some practical hacks for picking / booking your hotel.
Stick with a single Hotel brand
Since your going to be traveling, you might as well get some points for it and some privileges. Your company policies may make this more difficult, but do your best to stick w/ a single Hotel brand.
You can accumulate points status quicker this way. For example, I stay at Hilton properties 99% of the time. Hilton offers a variety of privileges including free breakfast, room upgrades, access to the executive lounge, bonus points, snacks, etc to their higher tier members. Marriott has a similar program as does Hyatt.
If you achieve their highest status you can guarantee any travel difficulties you have will be sorted out quickly! This the most important Hotel Hack: consistency!
Ever wanted to take a hotel mattress with you? You can buy the best hotel beds from major hotel chains. Find out how in our article 11 Best Hotel Beds – Where to Buy that Hotel Mattress You Loved!
Use a credit card that will allow you to maximize your points
Your company is likely reimbursing you for your travel expenses (if they are not…quit and find a better place). If you can, use your personal credit card and start racking up the points.
It might be easier to use a completely separate card for this so you can track of your expenses. Use the points to get cash back, free vacations, and more.
I prefer the Southwest Chase Card and the Delta Amex. I also use my cards for personal expenses (like the water bill) to maximize points.
My family and I took a week-long trip to Hawaii (5 person family at the time) and the only thing I had to pay for was 2 rental car days, food, and entertainment. And we got upgraded to a SWEET suite!
Always see what’s around the hotel before you book it
I stayed at a Hilton near some train tracks once. They issued earplugs to guests and it nearly cost me the chance to be a part of the birth of my 4th child. Do a quick once over on Google Maps to see what’s nearby. Make sure it’s safe.
Stay close to the airport for those early morning flights home
Make the early morning, pre-coffee trek w/ a few extra minutes of sleep. It’s not uncommon for me to switch hotels for the last night of my trip just so I can ease my morning slog.
That said, I generally try to avoid staying at hotels near an airport. They are often in not-so-great areas, and you have planes flying over head. But the last night, no prob.
Price isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a hotel
Cleanliness, proximity to your destination, reviews, age of the hotel, whether you want breakfast included or not, etc all factor in. While your company’s travel policy may force you into the “cheapest” hotel, chances are there is some actual wiggle room there as long as it’s within reason.
Book Direct to Save Money
It’s likely your company wants you to book through their travel portal, but if they don’t have one you can likely save money by booking directly w/ the hotel. Try the online portal first (e.g. Hilton.com) or even call them direct.
Negotiate a better rate
If you are going to be staying at a particular hotel many times try to negotiate a better rate. Often the local manager will be more than happy to work with you.
Hotel Hacks for Checking in
When checking in to your hotel there are a few hotel hacks worth keeping in mind:
Be nice to the staff!
Always be nice to staff working the counter – it might even score you a free upgrade! Or at the very least, when your shower isn’t working the desk clerk might actually work w/ you instead of telling you that you are stuck with it. Be nice, show an interest, smile.
With your status you likely get the ability to do a late check in
With status comes the ability to do what’s known as a late check in. Most hotels will give your room away after a certain time of night, but with status you can keep your reservation no matter what time you arrive. This is helpful if you get stuck with a major flight delay or something. If you don’t have status, you will need to call the hotel and inform them that you will be checking in late.
Ask for the upgrade!
Doesn’t always work, but every once in a while you can get an upgraded room, car or even a boarding position. This happens more when you have “status” with the company, but it also helps if your nice. Give it a try.
Hotel Safety Hacks
Travel safety is a major concern for folks these days – perhaps more so than ever. Use the hotel safety hacks below and sleep a little safer!
Keep your computer’s firewall on when using the Hotel Internet
No real explanation needed for this one. Networks are not safe. You should know that by now.
Speaking of cyber security, you might be interested in my article Don’t get hacked on your business trip: 7 Cyber Security Travel Tips for the Business Traveler to Stay Secure.
Always flip the door latch in your hotel room
I can’t tell you how many times this has paid off. From another traveler who was given a key to my room by the front desk, to the cleaning crew – you never know when someone will burst into your room. Also, it’s a good idea from a safety perspective.
Glance at the alternate exit plan for the hotel
Just about every hotel has a sign on the inside of the door that shows the emergency exit route. Believe it or not, I’ve actually been rousted out of my room at 3 am because the hotel was on fire.
Put the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you leave the hotel room
I use this trick when I don’t want the staff in my room when I head down for breakfast or out for a beer. Obviously if you want them to clean the room, take the sign down.
If I go out for a beer I am usually leaving my laptop in the room. No need to make it easier on the staff. The illusion that someone is room might be enough to deter them. You can also leave the TV on to further the illusion…
Don’t leave valuables in your suitcase (and make it hard to get at)
I don’t travel w/ too much valuable stuff anyway, but occasionally I have to leave my laptop in the hotel or something like that. But when I do, I employ a little trick I think works (although I have no idea).
In addition to burying it beneath a stack of clothes and zipping it up and sticking the suitcase in the closet, I throw a pair of underwear on top of it. Gross right. I figure they aren’t touching it! #LevelUp
Take your tooth brush with you during the day
Aside from being able to brush your teeth after the Philly cheese steak lunch, the maid can’t jack w/ it. Check out Travel Tip Tuesday #1: Don’t Leave your toothbrush in the hotel room to learn why!
Bonus Hotel Hack: Bring some wet wipes and hand sanitizer!
Germs abound while traveling and the hotel room is no exception. Wipe down that remote (or put it in a baggie) or any other surface you are concerned about.
Use a plastic baggie for the remote to keep away from the gross germs!
I don’t even wanna know where that remote’s been and what it’s done. Bring a larger plastic baggie and watch as much TV as you want w/out getting pink eye.
If you are looking for even more hotel safety tips check out my article 9 Hotel Safety Tips – You Need to Know.
Hotel Hacks – The Stay
Once you actually get to your room there are a few hotel hacks you can employ that will make your stay go a little smoother.
Have a good routine and stick to it once you get to the room
I always unpack immediately after I get to the Hotel Room. I hang my clothes and take care of any ironing that may be needed. I also lay out the rest of my stuff (socks, etc).
I also set my toiletries out and on especially early mornings I go so far as to lay the towel out on the floor next to the tub, physically move the shampoo into the shower, hang my towel next to the shower, and get the coffee pretty close to ready.
I will even lay out my Allergy pill and partially open it. I am usually in a different time zone, and know I will be running on fumes in the morning.
Those extra few seconds seem to add up and give me a little buffer if I am running slow.
Use the Hotel Shower to Steam Out Wrinkles
If you do have some minor wrinkles, and don’t want to get the ironing board out try this. Shut the bathroom door, hang the pants or jacket on the back of the door and start the shower. Wait 5 – 10 minutes and let the steam pull the wrinkles out. The wrinkles will usually fade away. It’s not your water bill :-). Also, some travel size Downy Wrinkle Releaser (click to see price) works great to make quick work of wrinkles.
I hate ironing. Seriously. I really hate it. I did a ton of it in the USMC and came to despise it. But w/ the life a business traveler its hard not to do it sometimes. But, to minimize it, I invest in wrinkle free clothing.
I’ve personally found that wrinkle free dress shirts are hard to find (polos are no biggie) so I still have to iron them. But wrinkle free pants are a technological breakthrough! Roll em, pack em, hang em up in the closet and you will be iron free-ish.
My favorite winkle free men’s dress pants are the Haggar Men’s Cool 18 Hidden Expandable-Waist Plain-Front Pant (click to see price). Comfort, style, no-wrinkles…and they even expand in the event I forget to do those push-ups!
Use the Hotel TV’s HDMI cable (or port)
Most modern hotels have high definition televisions (with HDMI support). Hook your laptop up and watch Netflix in all of it’s glory rather than hunched over your iPhone. Or, if the TV supports it, “cast” it to the TV. If you don’t have an HDMI cable, get one and bring it with you (like the one below)
Set 2 alarms for the morning
I always set two alarms for the next morning. Usually 10-15 minutes apart. This is especially important if you are dealing w/ a big time zone swing (e.g. West Coast to East Coast). I usually don’t do the wakeup call, but it’s an option too.
Workout BEFORE dinner
This is one of those hotel hacks that’s been a real game changer for me. When I was really traveling hard, I let my health go. When I finally got it back under control, I started running. I had a rule. I would be happy to eat dinner “with the team,” but only after I worked out first.
I 1000% guarantee that you will NOT go work out after the team dinner, a few drinks, and a heavy meal. Not gonna happen. And in the morning it’s tough – especially in a different time zone.
So, get it done immediately after you get back to the hotel, but before dinner. #GameChanger. Speaking of healthy travel, check out my article The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business.
Pack your clothes as a set then layer them in your suitcase for daily access
Some people like to fully unpack their suitcase and use that dresser they provide you. I only do that if I am staying greater than one week.
Instead, I pack my clothes by day (or least the pants and shirts – I can tuck my socks, underwear and undershirts around things to get better storage). Then I can save a little time by leaving everything in the bag and pull it out as needed and in order.
Avoid the Hotel Bar – and save money
Hotel bars might sound like a good idea, but they tend to be more expensive than a normal bar. Find some place local and force yourself to get out of the hotel. You may also save some money too!
Never use the Hotel Dry Cleaning Service
It’s crazy expensive. I mean, crazy! Like 4 times what you might normally pay. If you need dry cleaning, find a local shop and ask for quicker service.
Shut the blinds all the way (including the darkness divider) to get better sleep
Eliminate all external light to get better a better sleep experience in the room. Almost every hotel room has both curtains and a darkness divider that can almost completely remove any external light. You can also use the clips on the room’s clothes hangars to clip any remaining light gaps.
Skip the sleep mask..they’re dumb. 🙂
Hotel Hacks for Checking out / Leaving
When your stay is finished here’s a few hotel hacks to help you get our a little smoother.
Tip the Hotel shuttle drivers
For the most part, they work hard. Give them a buck or two per bag. My one rule though is you have to load my bag to get a tip. Some drivers (often female) won’t load bags. So no tip (although I did meet this great lady in Las Vegas who was a bag loading machine and pretty funny too).
But, if you grab my bag, I will tip you. $2.00 a bag seems fair, $5.00 if the bag is large or crazy heavy or a set of Golf Clubs. This is a karmic hotel hack… 🙂
Skip the actual checkout process
No need to do that these days. You will get a receipt emailed to you and just leave your key in the room (or not, who cares, they are almost disposable anyway). If you must checkout, use the TV in your room – most offer in-room checkout options.
Pack the night before your flight/check out
I always pack the night before an early morning flight. Get a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, and minimize any of my low-energy goofs (like leaving a $500.00 jacket in my hotel closet! UGH!).
Final Thoughts on Hotel Hacks
We hope enjoyed this list of great tips and practical hotel hacks! If you start to employ these methods your hotel experiences are almost guaranteed to get better.
By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might be like these great articles:
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