As I write this, I am at a hotel. About once a week my husband and I grab a hotel for the night since he works pretty far from our house. We’re in Orlando and there are TONS of options, so I’ve gotten pretty hotel-savvy over time.
If you’re planning on staying just one night at a hotel, there’s plenty to consider as far as what to pack, and how to get the most out of your time.
My favorite travel tips for staying at a hotel for one night:
1. Create an official packing list
You will always need certain things when you travel. I used to make the same lists over and over each time I would pack, and they would include the same constant things. Now I just have an “official packing list” of things I have to have.
My key items: phone, identification, phone charger, hair brush, hair straightener, toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine products, contact solution, contact case, and deodorant. These are my “must-haves”; the rest I could theoretically muddle through without (*cries inwardly* “but my makeup collection!!!”).
2. Pack smart and pack light, do’s and don’t’s
Pack light: Try your best to pack lightly. Plan your outfits exactly, and stick to them. Packing light is not only liberating, it saves your back/arms because you’re lugging less crap around.
Pack smart: Check the weather beforehand so you’ll have an idea of what to expect, though it’s always a good idea to pack a jacket and a mix of warm/cool clothes, just in case. Pack clothes that can be re-purposed.
DO bring multiple pairs of underwear and socks, because you just never know if you get stuck (flight delayed, anyone?)
I DON’T suggest trying to use the provided drawers or storage areas for clothes. In fact, I highly suggest you only hang up clothing that needs hung, and leave the rest in the suitcase. Whatever you un-pack, leave out in highly visible areas — You don’t want to spend hours re-packing the next morning.
3. Try to check-in early
While most hotels state their official check-in time as 3 or 4pm, sometimes they have availability as early as 12 or 1pm.
If you arrive at your destination early and it’s convenient, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by the hotel or call them and see if they have a room available for you. 80% of the time I am able to check-in early (like today!).
Conversely, most hotels will let you check out later, without paying any fees. Just call the front desk the morning of and see if they’ll let you check out late. Most of the time they’ll give you an extra hour or two if they’re not booked up.
4. Research the amenities
It’s useful to know what’s available at the hotel before you go. If they have a gym, pool, microwave, hairdryer, fridge, free Wi-Fi, free coffee, free breakfast, free local shuttle and more, this can help you know what to pack AND save you money!
You can bring or buy snacks at a local store and stock your fridge, maybe even cook in the microwave, if you feel like it. If there’s a gym or pool, you’ll want to bring exercise gear and a bathing suit (if you think you’ll have the time to enjoy such things). A free local shuttle could save you on needing a rental car, if it’s close enough!
Also check for negative attributes like a resort fee (found near theme parks) or a fee for parking. Good to know before you go!
5. Book early or wait until the last minute
One time my husband and I took a spontaneous trip to Cancun. We didn’t have a hotel booked until we were boarding the second leg of our flight, which was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. We ended up snagging an awesome deal on a timeshare for a week!
My favorite “book early” travel websites are Kayak and Orbitz (I have had terrible experiences with Expedia, grrrr, see their “refunds-HA! policy”). Kayak.com lets you search dozens of websites at the same time which saves you time, while Orbitz.com gives you “Orbucks” when you book with them, which is basically free money that you can apply towards your next reservation.
Another travel tool I love is HotelTonight. If you have the flexibility to be spontaneous, try the app. They show hotels in any major cities that need to fill rooms at the last minute, so they give big discounts to get reservations. Plus you can experience neat hotels that you may not have known about before, and the app is free! If you use my promo code “EWRIGHT32” you’ll get $25 off your next booking of $135+. Pretty sweet, right? (btw they didn’t ask me to write this post, I just genuinely love their app!)