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10 Things ALL Travelers Should Do When Checking Into a Hotel Room

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One of the best feelings is finally arriving at your hotel room after a long day of traveling. It's time to unpack, throw on a robe and relax. Pour your favorite drink, grab the TV remote or put on your bathing suit and head to the pool right? WAIT! Before you start enjoying your vacation time there a quick few things you should check in your new accommodations. These simple things will help prevent you from getting sick and keep you out of danger in your new hotel room. Here are the top 10 things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel room. 

10 Things All Travelers Should Do When Checking into a Hotel Room

1. Make sure your door actually locks

10 Things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel room

Sounds like a no brainer right? Many travelers assume the door will lock behind them when they leave. Hotel doors can malfunction leaving the door fully unlocked while leaving your personal items up for grabs. It also can leave you completely vulnerable to someone entering your room while you sleep. 

To check your hotel room door locks go outside WITH your room key so you don't get locked out. Let the door fully shut and then check the handle to see if the door can be opened without using key. If it's locked, great! You know your room is secure. Reminder to ALWAYS lock the deadbolt while you're in your room. 

2. BEFORE Unpacking, check for Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs Things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel room
Zoomed in Photo of Bed Bugs, Courtesy of Orkin

DO NOT UNPACK until you have completed this step. Even 5 star hotels have had bed bug outbreaks. Bed bugs travel in clothes and personal items so even the cleanest of hotels can fall victim to an infestation. To be very proactive place your suitcase in the bathtub upon arrival to your hotel room. This will ensure those pesky critters have no way of making it into your luggage as bed bugs also live in carpets. 

Bed Bugs are nasty little creatures that bite leaving large red lumps behind on the skin. They are very hard to get rid of from clothes and bags and definitely no way to start a vacation. 

How to check for Bed Bugs:

  • Pull back the duvet or comforter. Inspect the sheet for black and brown staining. They tend to leave their excrement behind. Gross. 
  • Pull back the sheet. Remember that bed bugs are extremely SMALL. Check the mattress cover for any visible bugs, black and brown smears.
  •  Pull back the mattress cover and check the mattress. Again you are looking for smears or a black mold type residue. 
  • Bed Bugs like to live in cracks and crevices. Pull back folded over mattress edges to check for brown and black spots. 
If you find something. Grab your luggage and head to the front desk to report the problem.

3. Know The Escape Route

Escape Route - 10 Things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel room

Spend the time to actually look at the map on the back of the hotel room door. These maps aren't just a legal requirement. They will help save your life in the case of an emergency. Know where the closest stairwells and exits are. 

Recent disasters like the earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia and hotel fires around the world remind us that it's more important than ever to have a plan in place before disaster strikes. If you are traveling with family make sure to have an agreed upon meeting place outside of the hotel in case you are separated in an emergency.


4. Wash Out The Hotel Room Glasses

Hotel Glasses 10 Things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel room

Never use the provided hotel glasses without washing them FIRST. This one is scary. An undercover operation by ABC reported 73% of glasses were not properly cleaned and sanitized. Some glasses actually posed a serious risk to guests health as they were cleaned with Lysol Mildew remover or a dirty rag.  Seriously? Yuck.

Wash all glasses with hot water and soap before using. You don't want to be swapping germs with the previous guest. It's not only gross, but nobody likes a new cold or flu to start their vacation. 

Plastic wrapped glasses in hotels rooms are always going to be clean but not exactly the most environmentally friendly things. Recycle if possible to help reduce your travel footprint.  

5. Check the Sheets and Towels

things all travelers should do after checking into a hotel room - check sheets

We have all been there. Absolutely wiped after a long day of travel we just want to crawl into bed and get some shut eye. Before you do it's important that to take a moment and check the sheets and towels. 

How to check if the hotel sheets and towel have been cleaned

  • Pull back the comforter or duvet cover. Look for stains, make up, hairs or any evidence that the sheets weren't cleaned. There should NOT be a body indentation. 
  • Pull back the sheets and check the mattress/mattress cover. Check for large yellow stains, mold and bugs. 
  • Take the towels off the racks in the washroom to look for stains and hair

Now I'm pretty picky. If you look hard enough you will always find something.  Even a piece of fluff that you have mistaken for a bug could set your alarm bells ringing. If it's one tiny hair in the whole bed, get rid of it and move on with your vacation. 

From our journey of staying in over 200 hotels around the world we have learned that not all countries are created equal in terms of hotel standards. In all of North America, expect clean white sheets in hotels 3 stars and up. If they aren't perfect make sure to let the front desk know so that they can fix it immediately. 

Unfortunately there were multiple times in South East Asia and the UK where 3 and even 4 star hotels did not have stain free sheets and towels. This doesn't mean the sheets are necessarily dirty but the standard of perfect white sheets and towels wasn't as normal. On multiple occasions we switched rooms or got fresh sheets and would end up with the same result. 

6. The TV remote

things all travelers should do after checking into a hotel room

The TV remote is one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room. In a study 81 percent of hotel surfaces had some form of fecal bacteria on them. The television remote was right up there with the toilet. Before hopping into bed with your bowl of popcorn or vending machine snack, Clean the T.V. remote! Below are a few tips.

How to Clean The Hotel TV Remote

  • Use anti-bacterial wipes. They are a quick clean to help kill bacteria on surfaces
  • Fill the sink with hot and soapy water
  • Soak face cloth in the sink
  • Wring out face cloth really well
  • Wipe down all surfaces of remote including between the buttons 
Top Travel Tip: Wipe down any surface that gets touched often in your hotel room such as light switches and door knobs. This will help prevent you from getting a cold or flu from a previous guest or housekeeping. 

7. The Ice Bucket

Another dirty secret exposed. Hotel ice buckets are almost never cleaned or sanitized. Many hotels are opting to include plastic bags to line the buckets. That is great except if there is even the tiniest hole, microscopic bacteria could get through to the ice. Another horror story is how often the ice buckets gets used as a barf bucket. My stomach just literally turned.

How To Clean The Hotel Ice Bucket 

  • Fill the bathroom sink with soapy hot water
  • Use a face cloth to thoroughly wash all surfaces
  • Check bucket liner for holes and then line ice bucket.
  • You now have clean worry free ice

Top Travel Tip: Ensure when traveling anywhere outside of North America to ask if they use filtered water for ice. 

8. Check For Hidden Cameras

There is a disturbing trend of hidden cameras being found more frequently in travel accommodations. This may be more common in AirBnb's but could happen in a hotel as well. This disgusting act involves hidden camera's that appear to be everyday regular items like wall chargers and even smoke detectors. There are still many things you can do to prevent yourself from falling victim to this deplorable act. 

How to Check for Hidden Cameras In Hotel Rooms

Be aware of your surroundings and check for anything that may be out of place. Things to watch for include:

  • Multiple smoke detectors in one room
  • Smoke detectors in the bathroom
  • Oddly placed decorations or gadgets
  • Red lights or wires

Unfortunately hidden cameras can be quite small and hard to notice. On the upside, rarely are they sophisticated enough to not be caught by someone who is looking for them.

We created a guide on how to spot hidden cameras and best practises for staying safe.

9. Hotel Safe

Always keep your valuables locked up in a hotel room safe. They are provided in hotels rooms for a reason. They may not be 100% secure but are much safer then leaving everything out on your hotel bed. Passports, wallets, jewelry and even electronics should be locked in the safe when you are out of the room. 

I personally lock everything up in the safe when going to bed as well. Better than a “I should have” moment that is all to common when traveling. 

10. Relax and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I'm a total control freak. I used to spend all of my time worrying and complaining trying to make sure my hotel room was perfect. Some of it warranted but much of it, I've had to learn to let go. Being on edge, angry or waiting for something to be fixed your whole trip just isn't worth it. I have learned that you truly can’t control anything when traveling. 

The quicker you learn to not sweat the small stuff and relax, the faster your vacation can begin. 

Happy Travels

things all travelers should do when checking into a hotel

Mujurizi James

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

Good article and advice

How to Find Hidden Cameras in Your Hotel or AirBnB - Travel Off Path

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

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