When travelers book a hotel room, they can usually count on finding many of the conveniences of home, from clean bedding to tiny shampoos. But for routines that go beyond sleeping and grooming, a hotel room may fall short.
These hotel-room hacks will help you transform your sleeping space into a place to keep off extra weight, keep up with your inbox, or keep your kids safe and entertained.
1. Set the mood
Turn your hotel room mug or water glass into a speaker. Just remember to be mindful of your neighbors … and make sure it’s empty.
2. Make the TV pull double duty
If your charger got left behind during the packing rush, you can charge your USB device using the room’s TV.
3. Or triple duty
Can’t wait to see your favorite shows? Stream shows to the hotel TV. If you don’t already own a Chromecast (or similar device), it might be worth it just for this — as long as the hotel room has Wi-Fi and the TV has an HDMI input, you can easily stream shows from your phone, tablet, or laptop. This is also handy for work trips — if your small screen isn’t cutting it, you can enlarge your work via the wireless streaming device.
4. Never move another piece of furniture to find an extra plug
Some hotels are short on sockets — carry a small, three- or six-port mini power plug to maximize availability.
5. Draw the curtains, and keep them closed
When it’s naptime, sleeptime or hungover time and the curtains don’t close all the way: connect the ends of each curtain with the clips on a hanger. Instant blackout shades.
6. Use the shower as a steamer
Not many hotel rooms come equipped with a steamer, but you can create your own by turning up the hot water and closing off the bathroom. Hang a suit, dress, or whatever needs to be steamed in the bathroom (as close to the shower as possible, without getting it wet of course) and wait a few minutes to see the wrinkles disappear.
7. Or, consider a hair dryer
If you don’t have time to steam up a bathroom, take the hotel hairdryer and hold really close to the shirt … move it up and down and it’s like an instant steamer!
8. Child proof with electric, masking or duct tape
Some hotels are already equipped with child-friendly gear like cribs and outlet covers — just call ahead and they’ll set everything up before your arrival. For childproofing on the fly, remember: a single roll of electric, masking or duct tape goes a long way. Use it to tape washcloths to sharp corners and keep drawers from closing on curious fingers.
9. Fight boredom
If bad weather has you stuck indoors, have the kids build a pillow fort, write postcards to friends back home, or hold a treasure hunt with convenience-store finds like candy and stickers hidden around the room. Or plan ahead by bringing DVDs, coloring books and portable games like Pass the Pigs.
10. Plastic bags can be a real lifesaver
Have a wet swimsuit you don’t know what to do with? Not too keen on sticking dirty laundry back in your clean suitcase? Ice bucket and dry-cleaning plastic bags will be a saving grace.
11. Put that shower cap to use
Cover your room service leftovers and pop them in the mini fridge so they stay fresh.
12. Make conditioner your problem-solver
Don’t underestimate this hair product, not only does it earn credit for keeping your locks smooth, it also can be used as a makeup remover, shaving cream, cuticle cream and more.
13. When life gives you lemons and sugar, make a DIY scrub
If you rub a lemon slice on dry elbow and knees they will soften instantly. Throw in a couple sugar packets and water and you’ve got yourself a homemade scrub. The hotel bar is a great source for lemon slices.
14. No excuse to skip the gym
While you probably shouldn’t attempt pull-ups on the doorframe or swing around a jump rope, the average hotel room affords plenty of space to do squats, pushups, jumping jacks, crunches, lunges and triceps dips. Resistance bands are lightweight and portable enough to fit into any carry-on. You can even use the luggage itself as weight resistance (just don’t overdo it—you still have to get it into the overhead bin on the way home).
15. Especially when staying in these hotels
Find a hotel chain that also appreciates your favorite ways to exercise. Kimpton Hotels offer a yoga mat in every room, and Westin hotels have a running program in place with New Balance in which guests can borrow shoes and clothes plus get running routes near the property.
16. Stay connected
Free Wi-Fi is an increasingly common hotel amenity, but some hotels still charge by the hour and even by the device. Frequent business travelers should invest in a Wi-Fi base station like the Apple AirPort Express, which turns a single wired Internet connection into a Wi-Fi hot spot, so you can connect all your devices without extra charges. And consider using Skype for business calls to avoid racking up cell phone minutes or room-phone charges.
17. And don’t forget: when in doubt, ask
Depending on where you’re staying, the hotel often has more in stock than you’d think — before rushing out to buy things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, or razors, ask the front desk if they have any to give out for free.
Nile Cappello, Megan Mitchell and Kelsey Rexroat contributed to this report.