Traveling is supposed to be a fun adventure, yet sometimes things can go horribly wrong. Consider for a moment the following tale of woe that can happen far too easily. You carefully selected your hotel to be one of the best in the area you are traveling to. It may not be the Ritz Carlton, but it has enough stars in its rating and plenty of great reviews that you feel pretty confident that you and your family will be safe and have a great time. Then, as often happens, your flight gets delayed. It wouldn’t be so bad, but your connecting flight is not going to wait on you, so you miss it. The airlines thankfully gets you on a later flight, but it won’t get in until late in the evening. You hadn’t planned any activities that first day, so no big deal, or at least that’s what you think.
But then... you show up at that great hotel only to find that your late arrival means your room has been given to someone else and they do not have any other vacancies. You could have sworn you made the reservation stating a late arrival was possible, but somehow that got overlooked. Now you are scrambling to find another room only to learn that the perfect storm of a sports event, national convention and the annual pea-picking festival means there isn’t a room to be found, except at the seediest place at the outskirts of the city. Now how are you to protect your family’s safety and your sanity? If you had planned ahead for this and every vacation with the following unique travel tips, you might not feel quite as panicked.
The white elephant in any hotel or motel room is the bed, and even the most lavish one can have elements that are not to your liking. Uncomfortable pillows and bedspreads of questionable cleanliness could make you consider sleeping on the floor, if it weren’t for the fact that the floor probably hides even worse things. So, tip #1 is to always travel with your own pillows and a light blanket. While it may seem that this would take up far too much room, consider using those vacuum bags that shrink them down. You’ll sleep far better with a pillow you are used to and a blanket you know is clean.
Cleanliness can be an issue at any hotel or motel, regardless of the rating. Tip #2 is to take disinfecting wipes with you and wipe down everything. Wipe down the bathroom counters, dressers, and nightstands, as well as anything you plan on touching, including the phone, door knob and the television remote. Top hotels may do a great job on counters, but they often do not sanitize these things.
Speaking of that floor that you wouldn’t want to sleep on, it probably isn’t a great place for your feet either. Tip #3 is to consider bringing a pair of slippers or keep your shoes on while in the room. Try to avoid putting other items on the floor, such as your purse or backpack, as well.
Security is another concern, especially with less than desirable accommodations. While most places have a security chain or device to provide extra security, some older units do not and many are not installed in such a way as to provide much resistance if a criminal is determined. You’ll never be able to make it Fort Knox, but you can add a bit more protection with a high quality door stopper (Tip #4). Not only will this door stopper help you secure the door from intrusion, but it will also be very helpful when you are transporting your luggage into and out of the room as you can use it to hold the door open. The majority of hotel and motel doors swing shut if you don’t which can make it challenging to navigate when loaded up with bags. If you’ll be having an adjoining room with your children or other travel companions, you may want to bring extras to hold those doors open or secure when privacy is needed.
Speaking of privacy, you may have once or twice used the do-not-disturb tag in order to get a little extra sleep in the morning or to assure that housekeeping does not wander in while you are in the shower. However, this simple item (Tip #5) can serve you well for other reasons too. In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to bring one with you just in case the place you end up is missing it. Most people acquaint these door hangers with the fact that you are inside and do not want company, so putting it on the door and leaving the television on when you leave the room is an excellent way to trick others that may want to go through your things while you are away.
Tip #6 concerns when you are given the option to choose a room. Your safest bet is to avoid the ground floor as well as any floor above the fifth floor, particularly in older establishments that may not have a good sprinkler system installed. On the ground floor you are not only more visible to those that may be watching, but it is easier for them to gain access. The upper floors are less safe in the event of a fire as it is beyond the reach of most fire equipment and more difficult to descend safely as everyone else will be crowding the stairways as well.
Just about any place can be made a bit safer and more comfortable if you plan ahead and bring a few things from home such as disinfectant wipes, slippers, pillows, door stoppers and door hangers. The majority of vacations play out without any harm or illness befalling you or your family, but it never hurts to take a few precautions to assure that the only thing you’ll be taking home from your next vacation is memories, photographs and souvenirs.