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Don’t Get Sick or Robbed on Vacation! 22 Tips for a Better Hotel Stay

Hotels can feel like a great retreat, but traveling also leaves you more vulnerable than ever to getting sick or robbed. Find out how to make your temporary room a true home away from home.

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Young man opening hotel room electronic lock with key card

Stay between the third and sixth floors

Hotel thefts are most common on the first and second floor, so staying on a floor above those will reduce your chance of having belongings stolen. Another consideration: Most fire engine ladders can’t reach the seventh floor. Rest easier by requesting the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth floor. Hotel managers shared 10 secret tips to help you get a free hotel upgrade.

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Luxury white bedroom in antique style with rich decor and bedside lamps
Olga Prava/Shutterstock

Skip the historic stays

A Victorian B&B might be charming, personal, and romantic—but it also probably has allergens and dust hiding in the rooms and lounges. A clean, modern hotel is a better option if you’re worried about getting sick. Find out 13 more ways your hotel room is making you sick.

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Modern lobby

Opt for hotels over motels

It’s easier to steal from a room when thieves don’t have to go through a lobby first. Plus, if your bedroom opens to the outside, you’re literally opening your door to dirt and allergens. Check out the real differences between hotels and motels.

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Book an allergy-free room

Some hotels offer rooms designed to reduce the amount of allergens like dust mites. Even those without allergies could benefit if you tend to catch colds and flus easily. If your hotel doesn’t offer a separate room, check if it stocks allergy packs with items like mattress covers, special pillows, and face masks.

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Room number in hotel corridor
Buntoon Rodseng/Shutterstock

Keep your room number secret

Avoid physical attacks by making sure the person at the front desk doesn’t announce your room number out loud. Request that the employee write the number down instead. You should also test whether the hotel gives out room numbers. Use your cell phone to call the front desk, then pretend you’re a friend asking what room number they gave you. If they give it out freely, that’s a red flag.

These are secrets hotel receptionists won’t tell you.

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Check for bedbugs

Even the best hotels can end up with bedbugs, especially with growing pesticide resistance. Avoid those itchy bumps by examining for the bugs before you unpack. Quickly pull away the comforter, and watch for brown bugs that are about the size of an apple seed scampering away. Take a close look at the pillows, mattress liners, and mattress seams for bugs or bloodstains. If you see anything questionable, ask for another room, and do another search there.

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made up bedding in modern comfortable bedroom with clean white bed sheet and pillow with light from glass window

Protect against bedbugs

Even if you don’t see any signs of bedbugs, take a moment to protect your bed, just in case. Move the bed out from against the wall, and tuck in the blankets so they can’t touch the floor.

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Someone is packing clothes in baggage. It does help to reduce wrinkling.

Double check for bedbugs at home

When you get back from your trip, head to the laundry room to check your luggage for signs of bedbugs. If you see any signs, toss the clothes straight into the wash, and follow up in the dryer on high heat for at least 15 minutes. Items that can’t be washed can be put in the freezer for a couple of days. Those nasty bugs won’t be able to survive the extreme temperatures.

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Close up woman hand set up white bed sheet in hotel room
Seksun Guntanid/Shutterstock

Pack your own sheets

Hotel sheets could be crawling with dust mites, allergens, and germs. Throw your own sheet over the bedspread so you’re not exposed to those irritants. Check out these bizarre travel items that will change your life.

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close up of a pretty black woman with curly hair sleeping in bed closed eyes
David Prado Perucha/Shutterstock

Wear long sleeves

Another easy way to avoid contact with the bedding is to pack pajamas with long sleeves and long pants. A pair of light socks will help even more.

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Beautiful young brunette getting some rest and sleeping late in the morning in a hotel bed

Use your bed only to sleep

If you’re watching TV or working on your laptop, shift over to the desk or chair in your hotel room. It’s more hygienic, plus you’ll probably have an easier time falling asleep once bedtime rolls around. Read 15 more things you should never, ever do in a hotel room.

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Closed door of hotel room with please do not disturb sign
Dragon Images/Shutterstock

Put up the “do not disturb” sign

A sign with “please make up room” is basically an announcement to thieves that you’re not there. Hang the “do not disturb” one instead to fake it that you’re still around. Call housekeeping to let them know they should still make up your room while you’re out.

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Use the main entrance

Instead of using side doors when you return to your room at night, go through the main lobby. You might be farther from your room, but you’ll have the extra security of employees’ eyes on you and anyone who follows you in.

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Fitness club in luxury hotel interior.

Don’t forget the fitness facilities

If you’re staying longer than a few days, make sure your lodging has a workout room or pool. Now promise yourself you’ll take advantage so you can reduce the stiffness you get when traveling. Plus, you can indulge at the breakfast buffet or with wedding cake without stressing about added pounds.

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Cozy home interior decor, burning candles
Daria Minaeva/Shutterstock

Light a candle

A fragrant candle will smell much more pleasing than that stale hotel room scent, giving you some stress-busting aromatherapy. Just blow it out before you leave the room or fall asleep so you don’t risk causing a fire.

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steam coming out of the kettle in the kitchen

Use a makeshift humidifier

The air in hotel rooms can be notoriously dry. If your room has a kitchen area, fill the teakettle with water and heat it on the stove. Let the steam escape into the room until the water has almost all evaporated. Read about more hacks to stay healthy in your hotel room.

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flip flops on wet wood planks

Bring a pair of flip-flops

Wear rubber flip-flops in the bathroom and on the carpet in your sleeping area. They’re especially important in the pool area, where you could end up with a nasty fungal infection.

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Don’t rely on the hotel alarm

Pack your own battery-powered alarm clock or use your phone to wake you up in the morning. You’ll rest better if you don’t have to worry about whether you set the hotel’s clock right.

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Jacuzzi bath in hotel spa center

Avoid the hot tub

There’s a chance that hot tub is a breeding ground for bacteria such as the one that causes folliculitis, an infection that creates itchy red bumps. Even the air can be disease-causing if bacteria in the water have contaminated it—some people have contracted pneumonia or bronchitis from it. Take a soak if you want, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. Find out 13 more ways your hotel stay could be making you sick.

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door lens peephole on light wooden texture

Check who’s at your door

Stranger danger! When you hear a knock, look through the peephole or ask who’s there before opening your door. If you didn’t order room service or the drop-in seems like an odd time, double check that the hotel sent someone by calling the front desk.

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Bearded indian man on metro station using app in his smartphone
Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock

Pack a nostalgic photo

If you’re on a business trip, you might end your days feeling lonely or stressed, and a long vacation could start to get exhausting. Anchor yourself by looking at a photo of someone you love to remind yourself of home.

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Close up portrait of a young woman eating dessert chocolate ice cream licking spoon outdoors in summer terrace coffee shop. Side view

Bring back recess

Spend just half your breakfast and lunchtime eating. When you’re done with your meal, take the rest of the time to stroll outside and enjoy your surroundings while you let your food digest. It’s a great habit not only for traveling, but also to continue during your lunch break at work.