I pretty much live out of my suitcase. I spend a minimum of 200 days a year in hotels and have done for the last ten years.
In that time, I’ve learnt a few lessons and picked up plenty of tips you can take advantage of to make the most of your next trip away.
Most notably, a few extra items that I pack that you might not initially think of when getting ready for your next adventure. So, let’s take a look at these items and why I pack them to see if they are the right fit for the next destination you travel to.
Bowl and Cutlery
Now, I’m not talking about raiding the kitchen before you leave, but I do always travel with a reusable plastic bowl and cutlery that I picked up at a local supermarket.
Hotel rooms often include fridges and microwaves, but it’s surprising how little else they have. So having a bowl and some cutlery makes life a lot easier.
Firstly, hotel breakfasts are expensive if they aren’t included in your room price. Who wants to pay an extra $25-$30 each morning for a “continental breakfast”, which is effectively cereal and toast?
Especially when a quick trip to the supermarket or convenience store, or even having it delivered via one of the apps like Uber Eats, will not only save you money but let you start your day on your schedule and not be caught out by the times that the hotel restaurant dictates.
This can also come in handy if you are travelling to a new foreign destination where you might not be sure how you will go with the local cuisine. Rice or noodles might not be how you are used to starting your day after all, but you can almost always get some sort of familiar-looking cereal at convenience stores around the world.
In bigger resorts and more touristy destinations, this is less of a concern, but its always handy to keep in mind.
Having the cutlery is handy if you order food to be delivered to your room (again via something like Uber Eats). I can’t tell you how many times at the end of a busy day of working or sightseeing, the thought of going back out to get dinner is a bit too much, especially after being on your feet all day.
There is nothing worse than ordering food in, and then when it arrives, they haven’t included cutlery. And your left trying to eat your meal with a small teaspoon from the room’s tea and coffee station. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Having a set of small plastic reusable cutlery has the potential to make a huge difference to your time away. Also, adding the small plastic bowl will make a big impact in getting your day started on your own terms, especially if you have a particular routine or are an early riser.
Powerboard and Extension Lead
I cannot tell you how many hotel rooms I’ve been in that have a single power point in an obscure part of the room.
Worse yet, after a big day having to choose which device needs to be changed first so you can top everything else up before heading back out the next day.
I’ve even found in brand-new hotels that they’ve tried to make things super convenient by including USB charging points next to the bed, but they end up being USB Type A, and all the cables for your new devices are USB Type C.
This is why I always travel with not only a powerboard with at least four power points and an extension lead.
The extension lead only needs to be a couple of meters, but that can make a huge difference between being able to use your laptop/iPad/phone comfortably while charging and having to sit on the floor in the corner of the room.
Pro Tip: Travelling overseas? Take a powerboard or two with you, and then you only need to buy 1 or 2 travel power adaptors for your destination. Everything else can plug into the powerboard as per usual.
In saying that though, electricity is not the same in all countries and you could easily overload the outlet if you charge too many devices at the same time.
What is the least predictable thing you will encounter in your travels? Hotel WiFi.
Sometimes it’ll be great. Sometimes it’ll be free. But most of the time it’ll be an extra fee and often overloaded with too many people trying to use it.
All of this can be easily avoided by having your own 4G/5G modem and using the mobile data network instead.
For me, travelling and working a lot from the road, it’s a no-brainer to have a 4G/5G modem with me at all times. If you travel less frequently or are travelling overseas, you might be better off with a cheaper (shorter term) prepaid option instead.
But at the end of the day, if you need internet, be it for work reasons or just to keep your social media up to date so that everyone else will envy your adventures, having your own 4G/5G modem will allow you more freedom to be able to access the internet.
Pro Tip: Even when travelling overseas, I’ll take my 4G/5G modem with me, then all I need to do is pick up one prepaid data-only sim at my destination, and I’m immediately connected to the internet from all of my devices again.
Just because you are travelling doesn’t mean you need to miss out on your favourite shows and movies.
I know in an ideal world, you are travelling to explore a new amazing destination and you won’t have time to watch TV. But there are times that the creature comfort of being able to watch your favourite show will make a big difference.
You might be travelling for work, get sick, or it’s a rainy day during your beach vacation. There are so many reasons why you might end up watching TV.
With that in mind, though, what’s available to watch at your hotel can be very hit-and-miss. Bigger chain and luxury hotels often have a small selection of cable stations to choose from and maybe a rotating movie channel. But at smaller regional hotels, you might be at the mercy of the 3 local TV stations that are available.
That said, more and more bigger (and newer) hotels have been moving towards offering streaming services (and maybe the local news channel) only on their TVs.
Regardless, all these options mean that you aren’t entirely sure what you will get until you physically get into your hotel room. This is where having something like a Google Chromecast in your luggage helps.
All you need to do is plug it into the hotel room’s TV and connect it to the internet (having your own modem will also help), and then you can watch all the movies and shows from your usual streaming services. No need to worry about forgetting to log out of your Netflix account when you leave, or your favourite streaming service isn’t installed on the TV in your room.
Better yet, if you travel overseas, in combination with a VPN service, you won’t have to worry about any geo-blocking restrictions.
Body Wash and Shampoo
I know a lot of hotels will include these (trust me, I have a whole draw full of them), but not all do. And even if they do, the products might not be suitable for you.
I’ve stayed at some hotels where they give you two each of those little containers of shampoo and body wash and that’s it for the entire duration of your stay. Be it one night or an entire week.
I’ve stayed at other hotels, particularly the fancy, more expensive ones, where the included products have an overpowering fragrance (usually citrus or coconut and sometimes both).
What I do to take any gambling out of the equation is bring my own shampoo and body wash with me no matter where I travel to.
This might be an issue if you are trying to travel with carry-on luggage only in places where they have restrictions on liquids. But I usually have to check some luggage anyway so it’s not a major trade-off for me.
First Aid Kit
For some people, this will be one of the first things they pack before heading on a trip. Others will forget entirely until they desperately need something. But having a small first aid kit handy can make a significant difference to your travels.
From having bandaids handy for small cuts and blisters to having disinfectant and ointments for scrapes and bug bites, all very common while travelling. You don’t want to be desperately trying to find these after the fact, especially somewhere you don’t speak the language.
Having them in your luggage, ready to go, will make so much difference when you need them.
I would also suggest you include things like common cold and flu medication. Travel is often strenuous, especially long-haul flights overseas, and that takes a toll on your body, often presenting itself in a cold or flu. Having these easily accessible will make a huge difference.
In the constant quest to improve the environment, bans on single-use plastic products have presented themselves in various ways around the world. One of those in certain countries is a bag of plastic shopping bags.
I very much understand why various governments around the world have gone down this path, but as a traveller, it also means an extra thing to consider when travelling to a new destination, especially if you are going to be in one location for a couple of days and want to stock up on some essential supplies.
Some places offer paper bags as an alternative; in others, you need to pay an extra fee for some sort of eco-friendly bag that may or may not be reusable.
These days you can never really be sure until you get there. And there is nothing worse than dropping your groceries because the paper bag has ripped or spending an extra couple of dollars for a bag that you probably have to leave behind.
Having a couple of small reusable shopping bags with you will in your luggage can alleviate all of the issues. Just remember to take them with you when you head to the shops.
For more general travel tips, make sure you check out the rest of my blog posts as well.
And if you have a travel-related question that you would like me to answer, head over to my contact page to get in touch and let me know.