blackout shades hotel hacks

29+ Hotel Hacks That Are Changing the Way We Travel


| LAST UPDATE 03/27/2022

By Kimberly Knapp

Whether we’re taking a seaside vacay or packing our bags for a work trip, we’re not always in love with the hotels we stay in. Thankfully, we have a few clever hacks that can make hotel life a little better...

TV Hygiene

When we walk into a hotel room for the first time, we often feel icky about the germs left behind by previous guests, particularly in the bathroom area. But one thing we tend to forget about it is… the TV remote.

hotel hacks tv remotehotel hacks tv remote
Reddit via u/Nwa1348

It’s touched by hundreds of different hands, and hotel staff probably don’t think it needs to be cleaned. But don’t worry too much - just take a plastic bag, or even some saran wrap, and slip it over the body of the remote. That way, anyone who uses it won’t have to wash their hands immediately after use!

Sheet Pockets

We can’t help but think that a lot of hotels must have limited furniture. Because it seems like every time we show up at a new hotel, there’s at least one side of a double bed that doesn’t have a nightstand! This is more than a little frustrating for those of us who like to have our phones, glasses, or a book nearby.

DIY nightstand hacksDIY nightstand hacks
Reddit via u/mahlanks

It may not seem like the end of the world, but it can get annoying quickly. Thankfully, this simple DIY trick can be used on virtually any bed, anywhere in the world! By untucking the lower corner of the bedsheet, as seen in the photo above, it turns the sheet into a compact and convenient little bedside pocket.

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Improvised Toothbrush Holder

Once again, hygiene is one of the biggest issues for people spending the night in a strange hotel room. No matter how strict a cleaning policy these businesses may have, we never know when things might fall through the gaps. This is a particular issue for hotel bathrooms.

DIY toothbrush holder hotelDIY toothbrush holder hotel
Reddit via u/BrReg

For those of us who aren’t happy to leave our toothbrushes on random surfaces or in holders that could be crawling with germs, there’s a solution! Just take a disposable cup (usually commonly found in hotels), place it upside down, and cut a small hole to fit the toothbrush handle.

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Better Breakfasts

Of course, there are some great things about hotel stays too. If there’s one thing we love about hotels in North America, it’s the famous continental breakfast! Just walk downstairs to be greeted by a dazzling array of breakfast dishes, from light cereals and fruit bowls to classic bacon and eggs.

hotel hacks breakfast buffethotel hacks breakfast buffet
Twitter via @SamanthaBrown

But alas, if there’s one thing we notice about these breakfasts, it’s the cold, hard packets of butter. For those having trouble spreading the butter on toast, just take a new butter packet and hold it against the side of the hotel toaster. Voila - warm, slightly melted butter. Perfection!

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Hotel Freebies

Surely we can all relate to this next one… what’s the one thing in a hotel room that’s more expensive than the room itself? The snack bar and mini-fridge, for those of us who are easily tempted! When feeling a bit peckish, some might find themselves at the expense of the super expensive hotel amenities.

free soaps hotel hacksfree soaps hotel hacks
Instagram via @soap_collector

Make sure to make up for any accidental bills by making the most of the free hotel amenities: soap, shampoo & conditioner, slippers, everything! Technically we’re paying for them anyway since they’re included in the hotel bill, but guests should always take as many free items as they plan to use.

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A DIY Bubble Bath

Sure, if we’re on holiday, we’re probably spending a lot of time on the beach or at the pool. But for those people on a business trip or who’ve spent a long day sightseeing, sometimes there’s nothing better than going back to the hotel room to slip into a comforting bubble bath.

hotel hacks bubble bathhotel hacks bubble bath
YouTube via 5-Minute Crafts

But then disaster strikes - there’s no drain plug! All hopes of that bubble bath are dashed. But don’t panic. Just take a small plastic bag and place it over the drain with a few coins to fit in the drain hole while filling the bath. Just like that, an evening soak in the tub is back on the cards!

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Fold-Out Storage

Many of us plan to visit new restaurants, bars, and clubs when we’re away from home. And it can be a huge pain when the hotel room and bathroom don’t have enough storage or table space to spread out our clothes and cosmetics. How are we supposed to try on all our potential looks?

hotel hacks iron boardhotel hacks iron board
Reddit via u/MermaidZombie

Thankfully, almost every hotel room comes with a fold-out ironing board. But how many people actually iron their clothes in hotel rooms? Exactly. Just pull it out and use it as a second table space for clothes, skincare, makeup, medication, and anything else.

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Those Pesky Keycards

Many hotel rooms require a guest's keycard to be placed in a particular slot in order to make the electricity work (as seen below). This rule not only helps establishments cut down costs, but also helps the environment by preventing any wasteful electricity.

hotel hacks keyhotel hacks key
YouTube via JohnDragonMan

But let's say there are multiple people staying in the room: what if one person wants to go out and needs the keycard to come back while others stay in? Simple. Just take out a card from a purse or wallet and use that instead. Just make sure it's heavy enough to add pressure to the inside of the slot.

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Where’s The Music?

We’re sure a lot of readers can relate to this one. Having a portable speaker to blast tunes is a must for most of us when we travel or go on holiday. But it doesn’t take much to forget those tiny little speakers while packing, leaving us with nothing to play music with but our tiny cellphone speakers.

DIY hotel hacksDIY hotel hacks
Reddit via u/blandsrules

But don’t despair. Just grab a mug from the hotel kitchen or cupboard and place the phone inside. Turn a song on, and the mug becomes a DIY speaker! Sure, it’s not nearly as loud as some may want it, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Plus, the hotel guests next door will be thankful for it.

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Noise Control

While we might be partying it up with our makeshift mug speakers, sometimes our neighbors are the ones making the noise. It could even be multiple rooms “disturbing the peace,” especially when staying at a party destination. And, of course, many hotels are notorious for their paper-thin walls.

noise control hotel hacksnoise control hotel hacks
Twitter via @WendoverCasino

For those who are struggling to get a little shut-eye when the noise outside is too much - or if the space beneath the door is letting too much light in - we've got a solution. Roll up one of the hotel towels, then place it at the bottom of the door. It should muffle the noise somewhat and block out light for the rest of the night.

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Make A Humidifier

Many people don’t realize it, but dry air can cause a lot of issues, particularly for the skin. The last thing they want is to deal with irritated skin while they’re trying to enjoy their holiday, or trying to get things done on a work trip. So when stuck in a hotel room full of dry air, here’s what to do.

hotel hacks diy humidifierhotel hacks diy humidifier
YouTube via AudioBody

Take a hotel towel and run it under water (either hot or cold is fine, just make it wet!), and place the towel over the top of the hotel's air conditioning unit. After a while, the air should be noticeably more humid. And if it's not humid enough? Just put some ice cubes on the towel.

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Secret Hiding Place

This next trip is for people who are planning to travel somewhere new, particularly overseas. A lot of travelers like to take out cash, so they don’t have to rely on using their credit cards, and so they can have it nearby if they ever need it. While this is a great idea, it causes its own problems.

hotel hacks security safehotel hacks security safe
YouTube via 5-Minute Crafts

After all, we don’t want to carry around big bundles of bills all day, lest we lose them or even have them stolen. Thankfully, we’ve got a sneaky little hiding place for those extra bundles. Bring a plastic hairbrush while traveling, and slide those bills into the space between the bristles and the frame of the brush.

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A Makeshift Desk

Let’s face it, these days people use their laptops for everything. So whether we’re on vacation or traveling for work, we’ll probably be taking our personal computer with us. The sad part? Most hotels don’t come with a desk, and sometimes using our laps just isn’t enough.

hotel hacks diy deskhotel hacks diy desk
Reddit via u/jcslater

For those who want a separate space to work or just a stand to put the laptop on so they can watch Netflix, reach into the hotel cupboard and grab that ironing board. If it can be used for makeup and clothing storage, it can be used as a makeshift desk or laptop stand too.

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Cover Up Those Shoes

After days or even weeks in a hotel room, some of our things are going to get dirty - and they’re not always easy to clean. This is especially true for our shoes which we usually won’t throw in the washing machine. But what do we do when it’s time to leave, and we have to take our dirty shoes with us?

dirty shoes hotel hacksdirty shoes hotel hacks
Instagram via @swhostet

Remember all the free amenities that hotels offer? Usually, these include a few plastic shower caps. Take two of these caps and put the shoes inside. That way, they can easily be packed into the suitcase without getting mixed up with clothing and other items.

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When Curtains Just Won’t Close

Unfortunately, some hotels aren’t the best place to sleep. For those of us who don’t doze off so easily while we’re traveling, every little thing can keep us up all night - from the sound of elevators, footsteps, and voices outside to beams of light that can slip in the gaps of the doors and between curtains.

blackout shades hotel hacksblackout shades hotel hacks
Twitter via @rklau

There may not be an easy hack for all of these issues, but we do have one that might make sleeping a little easier. Think about those hotel curtains that never seem to close fully and always let bits of light in at night. Just grab a clothes hanger with those silver clamps and use them to force the curtain edges together.

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Goodbye Cold Food

After days of exploring, sightseeing, partying, or even working, sometimes we just want to stay indoors for the night and order a box of pizza (or three). And that’s great, but there’s just one problem. Many hotels don’t have a microwave or oven for us to heat the pizza up the next day.

iron board hotel hacksiron board hotel hacks
Instagram via @crowder

For those who like cold pizza, that’s no problem. But for the rest of us, there’s a solution - just purchase aluminum foil and find an iron and a blowdryer. If they’re not in the room, reception will likely have them. Place foil under the slices and leave them on top of the hot iron while blowdrying the other side. Bon appetit!

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Hang Them Out To Dry

Ahhh, laundry. Another service we always need when staying at a hotel for more than a night or two, but something we rarely want to shell out our bucks for. And it can be expensive! It’s no surprise that some travelers have come up with ingenious new ways of avoiding the hotel laundry bill.

hotel hacks laundry rackhotel hacks laundry rack
Instagram via @hotelroomcooking

It may not be to everyone's taste, but delicates like underwear and socks can be washed pretty easily in the hotel sink. Once they're ready to dry out, they can be hung in various places around the room. For those who want to get creative, try hanging some of them from the cord of the hotel dryer.

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Keep The Suitcase Off The Bed

This next tip is less of a DIY hack and more a piece of helpful advice. After hours of travel by train, plane, taxi, etc., it can be tempting to walk into a hotel room, dump our bags and suitcases on the bed, and start unpacking. But we strongly recommend against doing this.

hotel hacks suitcasehotel hacks suitcase
Education Images / Contributor via Getty Images

Suitcases and travel bags end up in all sorts of places, on public seating, dragged across floors and concrete, and thrown around by airport personnel, and can end up being quite grubby. These bags should be wiped down first and then opened on the floor of the hotel - definitely not on crisp new bedsheets.

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Traveling isn’t just for the wealthy - a lot of backpackers travel the world on very limited budgets. While it’s easy to forget after hours of sightseeing and experiencing new places and cultures, that often changes when it’s dinner time, and a traveler can’t afford to eat out every night.

kitchen utensils hotel hackskitchen utensils hotel hacks
Instagram via @troyjrichardson

A lot of hotels don’t have kitchens or any kind of cooking appliances, which means it’s time to get creative. There may be no oven or microwave, but there should be a kettle - and anything that can be boiled before eating can be cooked inside. How’s that for balling on a budget?

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How To Avoid Spills

Packing suitcases and travel bags can be a tenuous experience, especially when it comes to toiletries. Products like moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner, liquid soap, and any other liquids are often at risk of opening up in our suitcases and causing a nasty mess.

hotel hacks travel bottles hotel hacks travel bottles
Reddit via u/brett_riverboat

The solution? Make sure to wrap them up or keep them separate from any clothing or electronics. While packing, take the lids off the products, grab some plastic bags or saran wrap and place it over the tops before putting the lids back on. This way, there is much less chance of anything getting out.

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DIY Manicure

Mani-pedis can be a mainstay of many vacations. But for people who are traveling on a budget or only traveling for work, this might not be an option. So what should one do with a spontaneously broken nail, especially if there are no nail files or scissors on hand?

hotel hacks manicurehotel hacks manicure
Reddit via u/gimbal_locked

This next hack is a very “handy” trick! Remember those complimentary matchbooks that are often left in hotel rooms or in bowls at hotel reception? Just grab one of these matchbooks and use the lighting strip in exactly the same way a nail filer is used. It’ll do the trick for now.

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Lost Keys?

One of the great fears for any traveler, or anyone who is temporarily out of town in a new place, is losing their belongings. And it’s always the smallest things that tend to be most important, and most easy to lose: credit cards, contact lens cases, and of course… keys.

hotel hacks keys hotel hacks keys
Reddit via u/crujones43

For those using keys for a hotel room, rental car, or hotel safe, these are probably the last things they want to lose. Take a look at the picture above - just thread a phone charger through the circle of the keychain to make sure it always stays in the same place when not being used.

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Thirsty Emergencies

This may not apply to everyone, but a lot of travelers like to enjoy alcoholic beverages in their hotel rooms after a long sweaty day of sightseeing or before going out on the town for the night. But after arriving to the room with a few beers, disaster strikes.

hotel hacks bottle openerhotel hacks bottle opener
Reddit via u/AlbertDumblestein

Alas, the hotel room doesn’t have a single-bottle opener in sight! Oh, the humanity. If this happens, try not to panic - a refreshing drink is still on the cards. Just look at the photo above, and use the hotel door mechanism to pop those bottle tops!

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Temporary Dining Table

If there’s one thing this list shows, it’s that the humble ironing board can do anything - if “anything” involves being temporary storage, temporary desks, or a temporary dining table. Just think of what happens when friends and fellow travelers want to stop by for dinner.

hotel hacks iron boardhotel hacks iron board
Instagram via @movacations

If a group wants to split a pizza or snacks in a little hotel room, they’re going to need a table. No table? No problem. Just whip out the trusty hotel ironing board, place a sheet or towel over the top, and it’s the perfect little dining room setup.

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No Fridge?

Let’s focus on those friends and fellow travelers who stopped by for a meal. Maybe after dinner, the group decides they want to share a few ice-cold beverages in the hotel before heading into town or going their separate ways. But as we’ve discussed, hotel rooms aren’t always well-equipped for entertaining.

hotel hacks mini fridgehotel hacks mini fridge
Reddit via u/viral_virus

Not only might there be no kitchen, but there may not even be a refrigerator! Thankfully, every hotel room has a trash bin (at least we hope so). Find the ice machine on the hotel premises, make sure the bin has a clean and unused plastic bag, and fill ‘er up! Now the room has its own DIY ice cooler.

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There’s Always A Charger

Let’s face it, booking hotel rooms in a new city or country can sometimes be a gamble - especially for those who are in a rush or traveling on a tight budget. It’s not unheard of for travelers to turn up to their new accommodation to find that it’s a total nightmare, lacking even the most basic utilities.

hotel hacks charger porthotel hacks charger port
Twitter via @dyerAndie

And if the hotel room doesn’t even have a power outlet to charge phones or other electronic devices, that’s a problem - particularly when traveling in a foreign country. Thankfully most TVs will have a USB port that people can hook their device up to, so check the TV in the room or in the hotel lobby.

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Nutritious Noodles

As we’ve mentioned, dining out every day while traveling just isn’t an option for everyone. So what does a budgeting traveler do when they want a hot meal on the cheap, especially if their hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen space or associated utilities?

hotel hacks coffee makerhotel hacks coffee maker
Twitter via @Roamancing

It’s a tricky one, but there may be a solution depending on the hotel. Take a look around for an old-school coffee maker that pumps out hot water. Found one? Bingo! Just pop down to the nearest convenience store and grab a cup of instant noodles or mac n cheese, which can be used in place of a coffee cup.

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Utilizing Utensils

One thing people don’t always think about when it comes to their hotel stays is doorstoppers. These little objects are super important for people who are moving in and out of the room to carry in luggage and don’t want to wrestle with heavy hotel doors - or scan their cards every time they come and go.

hotel hacks door stopperhotel hacks door stopper
Instagram via @natcatwhisperer

But as we’ve already mentioned, a lot of hotels room are lacking when it comes to helpful items and utilities. For rooms that lack a doorstopper, all it takes is a simple spoon to make those back and forth trips so much easier. Just place it under the gap of the door, and it will stay open as long as needed.

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Forget The Third Parties

Now we’ve got something a little different. Instead of hotel DIY or furniture hacks, this one is more about how to book (or how not to book) a room before a stay. And for travelers who are on a budget, they’re gonna love this next tip which is guaranteed to save money.

hotel hacks travel budgethotel hacks travel budget
Jeff Greenberg / Contributor via Getty Images

For those booking online: stop booking through third-party sites. They may be fast and convenient, but booking a stay directly through the hotel, via phone or website, is almost always going to be cheaper. And if they’re higher than the site? Just let them know, and they’ll usually drop the price to match!

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Say Goodbye To...

Last but not least, we have one of the most glamorized parts of staying at a hotel: the room service. In movies and TV, room service is usually shown as a fabulous and extravagant way to spend money at a hotel. And while it’s definitely extravagant, it’s not always fabulous.

hotel hacks room servicehotel hacks room service
Dadang Tri/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

In fact, it’s usually pretty overpriced. And what a lot of movies fail to mention is that the food is often cold by the time it gets to the room! Trust us, it’s not worth it without significant cash to burn. Close the room service menu and head out to a restaurant or cafe...

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