There is a subset of travelers that pack up every week, head to a distant city and make their home base in a hotel. Business travelers hold some key secrets to how to settle in to hotels quickly and make sure your stay has as few surprises as possible. Here are seven hotel tips from a frequent business traveler that we should adopt.
For 10+ years I have lived the life of a business traveler. Checking into a different hotel every night, being more familiar with cities I traveled to frequently than with the one I had just moved to, and perfecting the debate of whether it was an eat alone at the bar night or a takeout night. While everyone loves to share their tips for easy flights and booking tricks I realized that there weren’t hotel hacks out there- the habits that every traveler should adopt as dictated by the experts. Seven of my favorites are listed below.
Consistency. Choose the Same Spot for Important Items Every Time.
If you are staying in a different hotel every night you can save a lot of time hunting for lost items if you are consistent about where you place things. Every time I walk through a hotel room door my room key, wallet & car keys are placed on the counter in the bathroom closest to the light. Not only does it save me from digging frantically for things later but in the case of multiple 3 am fire alarms and evacuations I’ve been able to grab everything I need quickly. Trust me it is far more pleasant to wait out a fire department visit in your car than in the rain on the sidewalk with everyone else in their pj’s.
Never Unpack until You’ve Gone Through the Checklist.
Flip back those covers, lift up the toilet lid, look in the shower, scan the room for major cleaning misses (like blood on the carpet- true story!). You certainly don’t want to find a dirty pair of panties in the bed when you go to climb in at 11pm. I like to book rooms with two beds so I can flip down both the sheets and pick the cleaner looking one. The earlier you check for issues the more likely they are to be able to switch your room. Once the hotel fills up your options may be limited. This is a hotel tip that will save you time and heartache!
This is also a great time to count towels (are there enough for everyone) and check to see if the fridge is turned to cold if you plan to use it.
Be Loyal. Stick with One Hotel Chain Whenever Possible.
It can be tempting to look for the bigger better deal but what is that $5 savings really costing you. Frequent business travelers become brand loyal for a reason- loyalty leads to better rewards and a better experience. While discount savings sites may net you a slightly cheaper room for the night in the long run you can lose out on free breakfasts, lounge access, and even guaranteed last minute rooms. While we know that every traveler has a budget and business travelers typically have a suggested cap we recommend a AAA membership to help keep costs down at chain hotels while still earning rewards. (Be sure to check out our tips to make sure your AAA membership is really saving you money!).
Keep It Sanitary.
Anyone who travels regularly knows that one of the worst road nightmares is getting sick in a random city. Trying to pull yourself together in time to checkout of a hotel is a miserable experience so smart travelers carry the necessary tools to avoid this. Sanitizer and bleach wipes can go a long way. When I check into a hotel I immediately wipe down the phone and the remote with a sanitary wipe as they are traditionally the germiest items in a room.
Write It All Down.
Don’t rely on memory or technology. Both will fail you at some point. Keep a paper planner and write down your hotel name and address. Have a room you particularly liked? Write the room number in your planner so that the next time you book you can request that room. Did you eat a great meal right near the hotel? Write it down then you won’t be asking at the front desk about that great Cuban place you found last time to blank stares.
Check the Ringer and Alarm Clock.
Whether you are planning for a wake up call or not ALWAYS check the alarm clock settings and the phone to see if the ringer is on or off. I have been rudely awakened by others 4am alarms and I have missed wake up calls because the ringer on the phone was off. Both are a miserable start to the day especially if there are kids traveling with you.
Map the Hotel Location. Don’t Trust the “Miles Away” on the Hotel Site.
If location is important to you when you are booking your hotel make sure you go into Google Maps or Mapquest and map from your hotel to your destination. Many hotel sites use the “as the bird flies” mileage feature so you could be in for a rude awakening in the morning when your 3 miles away hotel turns out to be 25 minutes from your early morning appointment.
With these tips you can start traveling like it’s your job (and maybe it is). What tips do you have to share for frequent travelers?