The season of travel is once again upon us.
Whether your next trip will be prompted by the ritual of breaking bread at Aunt Martha’s on Thanksgiving Day, or simply wanting to escape the cold and snow that is part and parcel with winter in Michigan, many of us will soon have our sights set on going somewhere.
And that means sleeping away from home.
Personally, I’m a fan of hotel stays. There’s just something about ordering room service and having a meal delivered in a stainless-steel cloche, having fresh linens at the ready (without having to wash them yourself), and going down to the front desk and having virtually any inquiry addressed by a cheerful concierge (those folks are the original Siri, I tell you).
But like anything else, there is a downside to hotel living—no matter how temporary: The feasts under those stainless-steel cloches cost an arm and a leg; a gazillion people have stayed in the room prior to us, and it’s nearly impossible for even the most dutiful housekeeper to squash all the germs; and sleeping in a foreign bed can feel, well, foreign.
Therefore, the following tips may be somewhat of a game changer. Or, at the very least they can save us a few coins while making our stay more pleasant.
Reinvent your remote control
According to USA Today, the most germ-ridden place in a hotel room is the main light switch. I’m no expert, but I’d venture to say the television remote can’t be far behind. Simply place a clear plastic bag–even one from the produce section at the grocery store will do–over your remote, secure it with a twist-tie, and cut off the remnants, if you prefer.
Estimated savings: Priceless
Create additional table space
The one thing that nearly all hotel rooms lack is sufficient table/countertop space. Find a stretch of wall space large enough to accommodate your unfolded ironing board…and boom! Now your ironing board is a makeshift kitchen island/family room coffee table.
Here’s a brilliant use for those disposable shower caps in the bathroom. These caps’ elasticized edges sure do come in handy when we’re in need of Tupperware: Just cover your food container with the cap before placing the food in the mini-fridge.
Estimated savings: $10
Turn your ice bucket into a cooler
Packing–and then schlepping–everything we need while on a trip is difficult. Something has got to be left behind. Sure, in a perfect world, we’d arrive at our hotel room with a ready-made cooler. In reality, though? Nah. Here’s where the ice bucket comes in handy. In a pinch, it can chill a bottled water (or two) and the kids’ juice boxes when filled halfway with ice.
Estimated savings: $30
Voila! And now you have smartphone speakers!
I tried this one. And it straight-up blew my mind. Grab an empty mug, place your phone inside it, and prepare to hear an amplified sound. Now, is it akin to a $100 speaker? No. But there’s a definite improvement…for free!
Estimated savings: $20-$60
From cup to toothbrush holder
Sure, many hotels provide a glass to serve as a toothbrush holder, which is great for your toothbrush. But do you want to stick your partner’s and kids’ toothbrushes inside the same glass? Probably not. So, here’s how to create a holder for each person: Take a disposable cup, turn it upside down, poke a tiny hole in the cup’s bottom, and place your toothbrush inside the hole.
Estimated savings: $5
A packing aid your
suitcase will appreciate
We’ve all been there: It’s the end of our trip, we’re dog tired, and the last thing we want to do is pack, so we haphazardly throw our belongings into our suitcase–even our dirty shoes. Well, enter those trusty disposable shower caps again. Simply place your shoes inside them (soles facing down) before placing them inside your suitcase.
Estimated savings: $30 (Although I argue that a clean inner suitcase is indeed priceless).
Courtney Conover is wife, mom, yoga instructor, and Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor who has called Wayne home since 1995.