The 10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Checking in (and Out of) a Hotel, According to the CEO of Hotel Tonight
1. Not Asking About Resort FeesThe last thing you want on vacation is to fall victim to hidden fees. But sometimes, the built-in additional costs, like resort fees, are inevitable. The best thing you can do is be forewarned about these fees, so you can budget them into the cost of your room rate. However, Shank also recommends asking about the resort fee — even if you already know about it — when checking in. "Resort fees are unfortunately becoming more common," he says. "I always ask if the resort fees are optional, and sometimes I am successful."
2. Not Requesting an Early Check-in or Late CheckoutWhen booking your hotel, remember that a few properties are making moves to nix the typical check-in and checkout rules. The Hoxton hotels, from Williamsburg to Rome, have introduced Flexy Time to do away with restrictive check-in and check-out times altogether. When requesting an early check-in or late checkout, Shank says it's best to be flexible about your room type, as it may increase the likelihood that the hotel will be able to comply with your request. "I have found that early check-in and late checkout is as easy as asking nicely about it at the front desk," he says. "And be willing to trade a particular room type for early access."
3. Not Asking for a Specific Room If You’re a Light SleeperAlways be aware of your sleeping preferences when traveling — this is, after all, your time to recuperate and relax. If your sleeping habits dictate the type of room you'll be happiest in, speak up. "I'm a light sleeper, so I always ask for a room far from the elevator, on a high floor, and facing the least busy street or a courtyard," says Shank.
4. Forgetting to Do a Final Sweep of Your RoomDo you ever stop before leaving your house and whisper, "Wallet, phone, keys?" to yourself. If you don't, but are constantly at a loss as to where your personal belongings are, it might be a good time to start. The same "wallet, phone, keys" principle applies when you're checking out of a hotel room. Go through a mental checklist and do a walk-through of your room before leaving. "I can't count all of the device chargers I've left in hotel rooms," admits Shank. "Now, I make sure to look at every outlet during my final sweep of the room."
5. Not Providing Your Contact Information at Check-inShank makes an interesting case for leaving his information with the front desk as soon as he arrives at a hotel. "During check-in, I leave my email address and ask for my folio to be sent to me after checkout," he says. "This way, I can skip checkout and walk out of the hotel, knowing I'll have a chance to review any charges later on my own schedule."
6. Not Leaving a Tip for the Housekeeping Staff Before CheckoutWe instinctively tip servers, bartenders, hair stylists, and cab drivers. Leaving gratuity for the housekeeping staff at a hotel should be second nature as well. If you've forgotten to tip housekeeping daily during your stay, the best thing to do is leave a tip in the room before you check out. "I always make sure to leave a tip for the cleaning staff — they do as much as anyone to make sure I had a great stay," says Shank.
7. Waiting in Line to Check Out If You’re Crunched for TimeTraveling today means you'll likely be able to avoid standing in line at the front desk to check out. Your responsibility is to vacate the room on time, whether that's at the designated checkout time or a previously agreed upon late checkout time. You also need to ensure that you have a way to review your bill, and that the hotel staff has a credit card on file for any room charges. If you prefer to review your bill in person, or you need to switch the billing information on the room, you should line up for checkout. But if you've followed Shank's tip to give an email address and card upon checking in, you're welcome to just head out. Don't forget to leave your keycards in the room or hand them to someone on your way out, so the hotel can reuse the plastic.
8. Forgetting to Look at an Itemized Bill Upon ExitIf you're worried that the hotel will not email you a bill — or that you won't see it because your email inbox is a mess — then ignore the last tip and leave yourself extra time to review your bill with the front desk before checking out.
9. Not Asking Nicely for an UpgradeShank is very much in the camp of asking for an upgrade, if there's an opportunity to do so politely. "On the day of arrival, the front desk will have a lot of discretion to assign rooms," he says. "They likely will have a few nicer rooms that they have to put someone in. That someone could be you, so ask nicely."
10. Overpaying for an Upgrade at Check-inThe song and dance of getting an upgrade at a hotel is not unlike trying to qualify for an upgrade with your preferred airline. In either instance, you'll want to put in the request as soon as you can, and you should have a threshold for the amount you'd be willing to pay. If it comes up, Shank recommends "offering a reasonable amount for an upgrade — my rule of thumb is 10 percent of what you paid."
Travel is the New Meditation: 5 Tips for Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Next Trip
As travelers, we’re always chasing that ever-elusive feeling of awe and have high expectations for every adventure. We don’t want to merely see the iguanas on the Galapagos Islands or the iconic temple of Angkor Wat, we want to feel fully absorbed in these cherished moments to remember how incredible they felt.
The practice of mindfulness can help us feel more intensely immersed in the ephemeral. One of its essential elements is mindful meditation, the ancient Eastern tradition of sitting quietly while thoroughly and continually focusing on the moment for several minutes at a time. Mindful meditation can help alleviate stress, and now doctors even prescribe it to patients suffering from chronic pain. But it can also be utilized to enrich our travel experiences.
Put simply, practicing mindful meditation involves taking a few minutes out of your day to focus your attention on your breathing. Some people prefer guidance via a meditation app or another recording, but you can also do it on your own. Notice as your mind wanders, and, instead of judging your thoughts, merely refocus each time on your breath. This helps clear any nagging thoughts or other clutter whirling within your mind, and many people find that it helps them reduce negative thoughts. According to researchers, some of the benefits of mindful meditation include:
Ceramic tile interior, Dome of the Chain/Andrew ShivaWhether you’re hiking through a fjord, eating delicious cuisine or admiring the beauty of the sea, mindfulness is an excellent traveling tool and can enrich your experiences. Sara Clemence, author of Away & Aware: A Field Guide to Mindful Travel, says that mindfulness, meditation, and travel are complementary and can help you get in tune with your destination. “It’s about truly enjoying your surroundings in a new way,” she tells Silversea.
Clemence suggests five tips that will help you use mindfulness to enrich your next trip and immerse yourself completely in the moment while traveling:
Five Tips for Practicing Mindful Travel1. Eat More MindfullyExperiencing the tastes of other cultures is one of the great joys of traveling, but we often rush through eating. “One way to slow down and pay more attention to what’s on your plate is to make eating more challenging,” Clemence says. She will often eat with her non-dominant hand because it forces her to slow down and notice every mouthful. “Try to distinguish the individual ingredients in any particular bite,” she suggests. Chew thoughtfully, breathe slowly, and be fully aware. Savoring your meal in this manner will prompt you to notice and appreciate subtle differences in flavors and textures. You’re guaranteed to enjoy your food even more. It may also help you eat less, if that’s a goal.
Eating out in Marrakech, Morocco/Lucia Griggi2. Don’t Try to Cure Jet Lag“Jet lag is your body’s normal response to traveling faster than a human could on their own. Try thinking of it as a blessing, and a chance to experience these times of day that you otherwise miss out on,” Clemence suggests. She cites a trip she took to Shanghai with her family when she was younger. That first morning, she woke up long before dawn and took a book into the bathroom so she wouldn’t wake anyone else. The streets outside were dark, and there were only a few bicycle bells in the distance. As dawn broke and the sun came up, the bicycle bells in the distance turned into a cacophony of bells as the streets came alive. “Without jet lag, I would have missed that magical moment that was so memorable,” she says.
3. Go Old-School with PhotographyIf you’re used to snapping pictures with your smartphone, consider going back to basics and carrying a camera with film. “There is a physicality to carrying a camera,” Clemence says. “Plus, with film, you don’t have unlimited storage, so you are more deliberate about the pictures you take.” Working with film forces you to consider the light more carefully, to ponder the angle, and to frame shots. If you don’t want to go cold turkey with your digital camera, then select one day to try the old-school approach. See if it helps you pay more attention to the moment and the experience you’re having as you explore your surroundings.
4. Disconnect From Devices“Mindful travel is about disconnecting from your devices so that you can connect with your destination,” Clemence says. You don’t have to abandon all technology to be mindful (in fact, you may discover you love using a meditation app), but consider whether technology is making things too predictable. “By using our phones too much, we take the element of surprise out of travel. We look up where to eat or what to see. It removes the element of chance,” Clemence says. Sometimes it’s easier to be present in a moment that hasn’t been over-planned.
The Treasury at Petra from the Siq, Jordan/Andrew Shiva5. Carry a Sketch JournalEven if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, sketching in a journal can help you engage with your surroundings and pay closer attention to details you may have otherwise overlooked. “It’s a different way of thinking about and recording your experiences,” suggests Clemence.
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