Since June I have spent 29 days living in hotels; some of it was planned (mini-family reunion to celebrate my sister’s college graduation), and most of it was not (our condo suffered water damage from the unit above us). In the 29 days my husband, son, and I stayed in hotels we celebrated my sister’s graduation, my birthday, the 4th of July, and we even spent a night in the ER. Life didn’t stop just because we were displaced, in fact it raced ahead and was more chaotic than ever. Now that we are finally back in our home (and the dust is beginning to settle), I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned about how to survive an unexpected long-term hotel stay.
1. Bring more than just the essentials. Having small comforts from home can make a big difference in making a hotel room feel homey (this is especially important if you have young children). We brought toys, books, and a teddy bear for our son. Nathan became very attached to the teddy bear while we were there because it was a piece of home. Housekeeping would frequently place the teddy bear (aptly named Teddy Bear) among the pillows when they made the bed; it was a small highlight to look forward to. As for Ben & I, we ended up bringing our xbox so we could play LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was really nice to be able to relax and enjoy our evenings as we often do at home.
2. Look into upping your data plan. Hotel WiFi can be hit or miss. The hotels we stayed at offered complimentary WiFi along with your stay (you did have to re-sign in every 24 hours), as well as an upgraded connection for an extra daily fee. If you were a high level hotel rewards member (see Tip #5) you were given the upgraded WiFi for free. Needless to say, the WiFi was slow and unimpressive at best. Also, because we didn’t spend all our time in the hotel, we ended up using
quite a bit a lot of our phone’s data. What we should have done was call our mobile service provider and discuss options for upgrading our data plan.
3. Find local activities, events, places to eat, etc. Not every hotel we stayed at was close to where we usually live, thus making us unfamiliar with the area where we were staying. Since my husband works from home, and the hotel rooms we were staying at were studio rooms (only one room for all 3 of us), we had to get creative in order for my husband to be able to work. There was no way that my husband (who works in media and needs a quiet environment) was going to be able to get anything done if Nathan and I were there all day, plus, I didn’t want to stay in one room all day long. Thankfully, our hotels offered different activities during the week. Also, Yelp is your friend. I used Yelp almost daily in order to find places to eat and areas where Nathan could run around and play.
4. Find one thing that is a plus about the stay. While it can be easy to slip into the woe-is-me mode when you are forced to be away from home, I found that it helps to find something positive about your experience and focus on it for a while each day. My silver-lining was housekeeping. I loved returning to the hotel each day and finding the bed made, floors vacuumed, and dishes being cleaned in the dishwasher. It was nice to know that the housework was taken care of. Also, as a bonus, I enjoyed being able to park near our room (well, most of the time anyway). At home we have underground parking and we have to take the stairs or elevator to get home, so it was nice to get a break from that.
5. Become a hotel rewards member. If you aren’t already a hotel rewards member, I suggest you look into becoming one. We became members after Ben got trapped in the elevator of the first hotel we stayed at (it was an experience). The hotel apologized for the inconvenience, credited a night of our stay, and dumped a bunch of points into a brand-new loyalty account for us. Once they told us that the points could be used for either hotel rewards or airline miles we were hooked! We were incredibly thankful for the rewards account when we realized that we were going to end up spending the better part of a month staying in hotels. If you travel much at all hotel reward accounts are worth looking into.
And there you have it, my 5 Tips for Long-Term Hotel Stays! Hopefully if you ever find yourself in a long-term hotel stay it is because you want to be there (a nice vacation paid for by lottery winnings, perhaps?). Either way, I hope these tips prove useful if you ever need them. Tell me, what is the longest amount of time you have ever stayed in a hotel?