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It can be exciting, convenient, comfortably cozy, or downright annoying. At some point, it will probably be each of those options and perhaps even all of them at once.
Everyone’s circumstances for living in a hotel can be a little different.
Common reasons involve being in between houses, relocating, on a job assignment, or just traveling around long term. Whichever reason it is, the concept can be a little daunting.
I’ve lived out of hotels three different times over the last five years and am currently in one as I write this.
Some people find this to be a little crazy but it’s all just part of the adventure!
The first time was when I was in college. I still lived with my family and we were in between houses. So, the six of us, plus two dogs, lived in a hotel room for a month and a half. That was honestly the roughest of them all. Mainly because of my classes and homework, but I muddled through.
The second time, my husband was on a work assignment and because he had just recently gotten back from a short deployment, I chose to go with him. That time we lived in a hotel for 8 weeks, but we had an apartment to go back to which felt more secure.
Currently, we are in between houses and on a work assignment. We’re eight weeks into our hotel living and despite having been told that it would be for just over four months, we are now hearing rumors that it will be extended. Not totally sure what will happen, but we’ll keep you updated.
Needless to say, we know a little about living in a hotel for an extended period of time.
You may be surprised to know that there’s a good number of people who live out of hotels for an extended period. Especially, government employees. They’re always traveling around and being sent to training.
I’ll assume that if you’re reading this, it’s because you either have or at some point, in the near future, will be staying in a hotel for awhile.
When we first started telling people about our plans for living in a hotel for an undetermined time frame, we received a slew of different reactions. We’re sure you have received your own fair share but you can read about ours here.
Regardless of your reason or how you’re feeling about it all, we’ve put together a few tricks we’ve learned over the years. So, if you’re feeling a little excited and a little unprepared, you’ve come to the right place!
Here are our best tips for living in a hotel for an extended time.
Always our number one. It makes such a big difference to do a little prep work. Even if it’s barely any at all, acknowledging the answers to a few things can save a lot of hassle down the road. Literally.
Ask yourself these questions.
- Who all is staying at the hotel?
More people means more necessary items to take with you.
- How much room do you have to take stuff with you?
If you can’t fit it, you can’t take it.
- How much stuff do you need to take with you?
It can be super difficult to not overpack, but I would press this as one of the most important. If you take it with you, you have to keep it with you, carry it with you, and repack it in the end.
- How long will you be gone?
Generally, the longer you are gone, the more you need with you, but there are also some great guides out there to packing like a minimalist and outfit planning.
- What kind of activities do you plan to do?
If you’re going to be mostly in meetings and working a lot, it may be more advantageous to use your luggage room for those sensible heels and/or work outfits. However, if your trip will include a lot of walking and sightseeing, you may decide it’s best to ditch the heels for a good pair of hiking boots or comfy/cute tennis shoes and go with a pair of flats for work instead. It really can be the little things when you pack.
2) Unpack and organize things
I used to just think it was a waste of time to unpack my bags if I were somewhere for less than a week but you would be amazed at how much more space unpacking gives you!
Unpacking can also really help with your comfort and mental peace of mind. If you are anything like us, you might have a difficult time thinking and functioning in a disastrous space. Unpacking can be the difference between staring at a messy half strewn suitcase, or a neatly tucked away and organized room.
3) Utilize extra storage
If you are going to be somewhere for a super extended period and do need to take a good number of items with you, you may want to consider coming up with nifty storage ideas.
The trip we are currently on is taking us at least four months, across 13 states to date, and we’ll see four different climate seasons. Needless to say, we had to bring a lot more than usual with us this trip. From sandals and bathing suits to boots and winter coats. So, storage became an issue.
To counteract this and help maintain a somewhat organized hotel room, we invested in a couple of organization items.
We bought an over the door hanging shoe rack, like this one from Amazon. It’s a soft material so it’s easy to roll up when we move to our next destination and it easily fits over closet or hotel room doors. It may not be pretty, but it prevents ten pairs of shoes from being left all over the floor.
Next, we bought an easy to assemble and disassemble wire shelving unit. It’s lightweight and easy to transport but super sturdy and can hold up to 750 lbs! We use it to organize all our cooking essentials. It was only about $25 and has been totally worth the investment for us. I’d even say it’s the best travel purchase we’ve made for physical hotel comfort so far. Plus, I totally plan to utilize it once we’re back in a house again.
4) Be prepared to do laundry
If you’re going to be somewhere long term or choosing to plan your outfits like a minimalist, then it’s safe to say that you will probably have to do some laundry along the way.
If you’re driving, you can take your own basket or laundry bag. Even if I’m not driving but I’m going to stay somewhere for an extended period of time, I’ll purchase a cheap $4-5 laundry basket from the store to set in the closet so I can throw all our dirty clothes in it.
It’s just another way to keep things tidy and organized. It’s inexpensive enough to make a difference but cheap enough that I don’t feel like I’m wasting money if I have to leave it behind.
And if you are driving, baskets are a great option for transporting items and carrying them when it’s time to get back on the road.
Don’t forget the laundry detergent! Those fancy little detergent pods make it really easy to put a few in a baggy to take with you or you can get travel size detergent bottles and packets from your local Target or Walmart.
I tend to go the detergent pod route most often. It’s easy and I know exactly how many loads I can wash.
Still thinking none of those options will work for you? No worries!
I recently came across this awesome item called the Scrubba Wash Bag. It’s literally a portable “washing machine” that can almost fit in your pocket. Super easy to use and a perfect option for travelers without a washing machine or those who don’t want to wash their clothes in dirty washbasins and sinks.
This video shows how it works
5) Cook easy but delicious meals
Food. The food we eat, good or bad, can make such a big impact on our day and how we feel.
It’s important to eat good, and arguably, healthy meals as best you can while living in a hotel. I know this sounds like a ridiculous feat but, with a little innovation, it can be done.
You would be amazed at the easy meals you can make in a microwave or even better, a crockpot! Check out my blog post on tips for cooking in a hotel room.
6) Water filter system
Like the importance of healthy food is clean water to drink and cook with. A couple of options here include keeping bottled water on hand.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to take a water filtration pitcher with me. Overall, it’s cheaper and I never run out of the bottled water this way!
Of course, Brita is one of the most highly rated around. It’s easy to use and you can get refill filters for it at your local store or you can keep things easy and order it on Amazon.
Our saving grace for easy shopping!
Brita also has refillable water bottles which are perfect for long excursion days and expensive locations. I know I personally shy away from using water fountains but the great thing about this refillable water bottle is that it filters the water for you!
No more dehydration or midnight runs to the store for water. I’ve always been super picky about my water and utilizing these tips has been a total game changer for me.
7) Paper and plastic ware
Another tip for keeping things easy: use paper and plastic ware for quick and easy cleanup.
In the past, we have used both real dishes I picked up from the dollar store and we’ve used paperware we could throw out.
Honesty moment: I sincerely prefer using the real dishes. It makes me feel a bit more at home and no one likes cutting through their plate when they are attempting to cut their chicken instead.
Having said that, going the real dish route makes for countless hours spent cleaning dishes if you don’t have a kitchenette.
We’ve done it in the past and while it can be worth it, it’s also not always fun when you have to clean dishes just because they’re all dirty and you want to eat.
However, having real silverware it super helpful. Again, cutting chicken or steak with a plastic knife can be frustrating.
My best advice, plastic or paper products for cups, bowls, plates, and spoons, and then buy inexpensive forks and knives to use for the heavier meals you make. You can get a cheap set at local stores or order a set like this before your travels. That way you’re not worried about ruining or losing pieces and it’s a cheap set that’s still good quality.
8) Crockpot bags
Continuing with the easy cleanup method, I recently discovered how many great things you can use Reynolds slow cooker liner bags for. I saw my cousin use them and my life has changed forever!
They are BPA free which is comforting and perfect for using in a crockpot, or as I recently discovered, a rice cooker also!
Seriously, this has been a life-changing hack for us.
No one wants to try to clean a crockpot or rice cooker basin in a bathroom sink. No one.
These little liners fit perfectly into your cooker and come in different sizes. At the end of the meal, I’ll even just tie the top off sometimes for easy leftover storage before sticking the whole bag in the fridge. When it’s time to eat the leftovers, I put the whole bag in the crockpot again and heat it all up.
It’s perfect! I do the same mostly with my rice cooker.
Although I don’t usually use it to reheat in a rice cooker, I do use them to cook my rice in so that I’m not fighting sticking rice paste in the bottom of the basin.
I just pull the bag out and either tie off the leftovers or throw out the bag.
Clean up in seconds. Can I get a hallelujah?!
9) Don’t overlook small conveniences
We get it, long-term hotel stays can get old. There’s a reason this post is all about making an extended hotel room stay more comfortable because sometimes they just aren’t.
It’s not really “home” and can take some getting used to or cause a lot of inconveniences.
So, what do we do when we’re having a rough time of it? We take advantage of finding small conveniences that make life a little better.
If something annoying arises and you can do something quick and easy about it, you should. Most recently we were staying in a hotel for two months and the pillows were terrible. So awful that it disrupted my sleep at night. My solution? I went to Walmart and bought an inexpensive pillow. One that was better quality than what we’d been sleeping on but not so expensive that I would cringe if I had to leave it behind. It made a world of difference!
Another example is taking a Blu-ray player or Apple TV with you. We hooked ours up to the television in the hotel room and then we can get Redbox movies or stream from our phones to the TV. Local television isn’t always that great and you can only watch the same episodes on HGTV so many times.
Hotels we’ve stayed at don’t always have tables or good eating surfaces, so we bought inexpensive tv tables to utilize.
Or maybe we’ll go to a grocery store and get our favorite snacks and drinks.
It’s the little things that make a big difference! Don’t overlook them if possible!
10) Don’t sit in your room during all your free time
Now that we have discussed so much about making yourself comfortable in a hotel room, here’s a big tip. Don’t spend all your time in the room! Get out and explore, take walks, go to the gym, discover a local bookstore.
Find something to do besides staying locked up inside during your free time.
Research a little about the area and participate in both the local events and the tourist attractions if you can.
You’ll be amazed at what little gems you find and how much getting out in decent weather or going for a drive can help to clear your head and make the whole experience better.
11) Take advantage of reward programs
Lastly, take advantage of travel reward programs. There are so many of them out there it’s important to choose which one will be best for you.
You can read this post about how to get the most benefits out of your travel.
Depending on which route you go, rewards can range from free hotel nights and flights to simpler things like discounts on meals and events.
Who doesn’t love free and discounted stuff?!
If you’re going to be traveling anyways, you should definitely take advantage of some of these!
We hope you find these tips helpful and be sure to read some of our other posts on travel life or follow us on social media!
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