9 amusing travel hacks

IMG_2901

As someone who travels more often than I’d like, I do occasionally pick up useful little tips and tricks for making life on the road more tolerable. Here are a random assortment.

1. Hotel coffee. Treat it like a teabag. Read this post for the full details!

2. Forgot toothpaste? Or, if you’re cheap like me and refuse to pay (at some hotels) $9 for a wafer-thin packet of toothpaste, take a hefty pinch of salt or 2 paper salt packets from a fast food restaurant and dissolve them in 1/8th cup of warm water. Brush with this heavy saltwater solution in your mouth and it will clean your teeth and reduce bad breath surprisingly well. It’s not a substitute for proper dental care at home, but on the road it works in a pinch.

3. Shower with the bathroom door open if privacy permits. Most hotels use a forced air system of some kind for heating and cooling, which tends to dry out the room air quickly. In the humid summer, this is wonderful, but at other times of the year, this can lead to nosebleeds. If privacy and decency permit, shower with the bathroom door open so that the moist vapor gets into the room. If you can’t do that, then soak a large bath towel with water and drape it over one of the metal luggage racks for the evening, ideally placed near where the air blows into the room. If you’re really desperate for some humidity, run the in-room coffee maker with the lid off and with just plain water a few times.

4. Sign up for every frequent traveler program available. Even if you don’t have a ton of points, just having a membership number can get you an occasional upgrade if the hotel is far below capacity.

5. Always, always, ALWAYS travel with good manners and etiquette. Treating the hotel staff with kindness is not only the right thing to do, but occasionally you benefit from it, too.

6. If you’re concerned about safety, aim to book for the second floor. The first floor/ground level is too easy to break into. Above the third floor and you might not survive if you jump. From the second floor, you’re probably going to sprain or break something when you land, but you’ll likely survive and you’ll get out quickly in case of a fire with exits blocked. And for goodness sake, know where the fire exits are on your floor.

7. Got lousy water at your hotel? Get some ice from the ice machine. In addition to cooling down the water (thus reducing its apparent taste, because cold numbs the tongue), many ice machines have a water filter built into them, so if you load up a glass packed full of ice with some warm tap water, you should get a nice, balanced glass of water that’s cool to drink and cleaner than straight tap.

8. Suck at ironing? If you’ve got at least 4 hours between arrival and when you’re supposed to be presentable, load up the in-room iron with water. Unless it’s a super cheap model, it has a spray function that works like a mister, even if the iron isn’t plugged in. Mist down your suit or formal clothes with a fine mist all over to relax the fabric, then hang to dry. Works even better if you can hang clothes near where the air vent is blowing.

9. Have to practice your talk? Bring an HDMI cable. Many rooms have nice flat screen TVs that you can hook your laptop into and practice your presentations as though you were on-stage.

What are your favorite travel hacks? Leave them in the comments!


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!


  • Erik Carlsson

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention hanging your suit in the bathroom. The steam from the shower gently uncreases the fabric without having to iron.

    • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

      I’ve found that this is hit or miss. If you can hang the suit such that both sides are equally vented, then you’re good, but if the bathroom only has a hanger that lets one side vent, then you’re better off with the misting method.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davevandewalle Dave Van de Walle

    These are great, Chris.

    I’d add “pack less.” You can get by on less outfits than you think you need.

    AND…always bring the “stuff” home from your room. Coffee service thing, shampoo, soap, conditioner, vanity kit, you name it. If you don’t need it, put a bunch of the toiletries in a ziploc and put it in your car. Next time you drive by someone asking for money on the road, you’ve got a nice little kit that they may appreciate.

    • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

      Yep, I bring home everything I’m legally allowed to take :)

  • http://www.RoninMarketeer.com John Wall

    Have a second set of toiletries and leave it in your travel bag all the time. When you run out of something put the empty bottle in with your dirty close so you remember to replace it when you unpack. No more forgetting toothpaste, etc. That and make friends with a travel outlet strip when you need to charge your phone on the road.

    http://amzn.to/Xw4vT5

  • http://chelpixie.com/ Chel Wolverton

    You can always call the front desk and ask if they carry humidifiers. I do it when traveling. If its a good place they will likely have one.

  • http://www.thetraveltart.com The Travel Tart

    Some people go even further by wearing their underpants 4 times – frontwards, backwards, inside-out frontwards and inside-out backwards!