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5 Things to Do Right When You Check into a Hotel Room

By Cynthia Barnes
Read time: 3 minutes

Maybe the flight was delayed or the taxi driver made a tour of the city, or checking in seemed to take years. Whatever your journey was like, when you finally get to your hotel room, it’s certainly tempting to raid the minibar and stretch out on the bed. While we certainly won’t stop you, you might want to wait just a minute. Here are five things you should do first so you can relax in your hotel room comfortably and safely. 

Plan Your Route

Image of hotel hallway
Credit: zhudifeng/ iStock via Getty Images 

Before you even get to your room, make a note of where the nearest two emergency exits and stairwells are located. Each year, there are almost 4,000 hotel and motel fires reported in the U.S. The U.S. Fire Administration advises studying the hotel’s evacuation plan carefully, and counting the number of doors between your room and the nearest exits, so that you can safely navigate an escape in the dark. 

Check Your Door

Zoomed-in image of traveler using key card to open hotel room door
Credit: VTT Studio/ iStock via Getty Images 

Open the door to your hotel room and let it close while you’re still in the hall. Is it locked? Not all doors automatically lock behind you when you walk into the room, and that’s definitely something you’ll want to know. Also make sure that the deadbolt or safety chain is in good working order, and make use of it while you’re in the room. For extra security, consider packing a portable lock that can prevent someone with a master card from entering your room.

Inspect for Pests

Traveler pulling curtains open to look outside hotel room window
Credit: Oleh_Slobodeniuk/ E+ via Getty Images 

Even worse than waking up in a hotel room with bites from bed bugs is inadvertently bringing them back to your home. Unfortunately, even the cleanest five-star hotel can be plagued with these hard-to-eradicate insects, so it’s important to do some quick due diligence before you settle in and relax. 

Put your bags in the bathroom — bed bugs are unlikely to be in the tub or shower — and start your inspection. Fortunately, adults and eggs are visible to the naked eye, as are the molted casings and the rust-colored spots that they leave behind. Pull back the sheets and blankets (a process that has the added benefit of making sure they’re clean). Check the mattress, too, removing the cover and running a business card along the seams, which are a favorite hiding place. Repeat the process with any upholstered furniture. Many seasoned travelers avoid the dressers, keeping their clothes stored in their (zipped) suitcase atop the luggage rack.

Turn Off (or Unplug) The Alarm Clock

Woman in hotel room bed turning off alarm clock
Credit: Fancy/Veer/ Corbis via Getty Images 

Many frequent travelers have been awakened at least once by an unwanted alarm blaring from a bedside table. While housekeeping is supposed to check for and turn off any alarm left by the previous hotel guests, they may miss it every now and then. Turn it off, or set it to your desired time if you want a backup to the alarm on your phone. Better still, unplug the entire clock to darken your room and make for a more restful night’s sleep.

Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize

Close-up image of passenger cleaning light switch with sanitizing wipe
Credit: Maridav/ Shutterstock 

Like airplanes, hotel rooms are heavily trafficked and are often not the cleanest places. Housekeepers are hurried, and hotels are filled with new strangers every night. If you’re going to touch the TV’s remote control — one of the germiest offenders — scrub it first with a sanitizing wipe. Ditto for wiping down light switches, the door handle, phone, bathroom faucets, and the toilet handle. And the last step? Wash your own hands: You’ve been traveling, after all.

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