9 Things Every Traveler Should Do Before Leaving Their Hotel Room

See recent posts by Megan Wood

We've already filled you in on the things you should never do at hotel checkout, but the smartest travelers have a mental to-do list before they even leave the room and head down to the reception desk. Leaving a hotel room (especially a nice suite) can be a letdown. It officially means that vacation is over and it's time to head back to the real world. But before you let the guest room door close behind you, be sure to do these nine things that will save you stress and money in the immediate future.

The Central Park Junior Suite at Four Seasons New York/Oyster
The Central Park Junior Suite at Four Seasons New York/Oyster

1. Photograph the minibar.

There’s nothing worse than seeing an unexpected hotel charge on your credit card bill. This is exactly what can happen if hotel management attributes room damages or minibar expenses to you. To cover yourself, take a quick snap (or better yet, alert the front desk) of any major damage you might find. The same goes for the minibar — a before and after photo can prove that it was the guest before you who downed all the $100 Champagne.

2. Take your shoe out of the safe.

If you’re the type of person who always forgets something important in the safe (no judgment), here’s a pro tip: Put one of your shoes in there. You won’t be able to get out the door without your second shoe, and you’ll be forced to remember your passport or other valuables you stashed away for safekeeping.

3. Peek in the shower.

The shower is a place people often overlook when packing up their belongings. But leaving behind an expensive bottle of face wash or your favorite razor is easy to do — not to mention, mildly annoying when it come time to replace those products. We also recommend checking under the bed and in the closet for any items. Plus, be sure there are no chargers still plugged into the wall outlets.

4. Grab the freebies.

And while you’re looking in the shower, there’s no harm in grabbing the individual toiletries you only partially used. Don’t forget any other freebies you might actually want, like bottled water, magazines, monogrammed pens, or fresh fruit. Just be sure that these items aren’t part of the charged minibar, and of course, leave the big-ticket items, like robes and umbrellas, behind.

5. Review the bill.

For your convenience, hotel folios are usually available to review in the privacy of your room. Check the TV for the electronic version or near the door for an envelope slipped underneath in the early morning hours. You’re much more likely to clock discrepancies in your room than in a busy and crowded lobby while the front desk agent watches you.

6. Ask to stay longer.

At most hotels, the decision of whether or not you can check out later can’t be made until the day you’re supposed to leave. It’s when the front desk will have the most updated picture of how many guest rooms will be filled. If it’s a full house, housekeeping needs to clean your room ASAP, so that the next guests can get in. If the hotel is partially empty, a later checkout is entirely possible. So before you leave, call the front desk and ask if you can stay a few more hours.

7. Tip housekeeping.

When it’s time to go, it’s time to tip. Don’t forget to leave cash for housekeeping staff before you check out. It’s entirely possible to leave money at the front desk, but it’s a better guarantee that the money will go to the right person(s) if you leave it in the room. Add a small thank you note, too.

8. Request a car.

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are usually the most affordable way to get to the airport. Request a ride before you leave your room (if you know you’re leaving the hotel immediately), and the car should be waiting for you at the curb. It’s much less stressful than waiting for a taxi to be called or overpaying for a hotel car service.

9. Take one last picture.

Before you go, take one last snap of whatever made the hotel room special to you. It doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy, but a pretty view or a soaking bathtub can make for a memorable photo the next time you’re mindlessly scrolling through your phone’s camera roll. After all, remembering a blissful vacation is priceless.

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