I think most of us frequent travelers already do most of these (or I hope you do) but here’s a great reminder from SmarterTravel. Thanks to Luis over there for providing this!

Check for Bedbugs

Scrutinize your mattress, bed frame, and headboard — you’re looking for small brown stains. Bedbugs are hard to see (they hide during the day and can run away quickly when disturbed), but they leave behind brown bloodstains when they process the blood of their victims. Be sure to check under the sheets and mattress pad, too.


Your room may look clean, but that doesn’t mean it’s sanitary. Hotel cleaners may scrub the bathroom, but do they take the time to wipe down common safe houses for germs, such as remote controls, light switches, and doorknobs? Give these items a quick cleaning with an antibacterial wipe to stay healthy during your visit.

Check Hiding Spots

Before letting your guard down in your locked hotel room, check these hiding spots to make sure you really are alone: under the bed, in the closet, and in the shower. An intruder could have slipped in before you and could be lying in wait — or something more gruesome. You think I’m being alarmist? Maybe, but Snopes lists a number of actual incidents in which guests checked in to a hotel, complained about a horrible odor in their room, and later discovered a human body hidden under the bed or mattress. They had literally been sleeping on top of a corpse. Now who’s the alarmist?

Make Sure Temperature Controls Work

Your room temperature may seem fine now, but it could become unbearably hot or cold once you’re trying to sleep. If you wait until nighttime to discover that your climate controls don’t work, you may be stuck if there’s no maintenance staff on call to fix the problem and no vacant room for you to switch to.

Remove the Comforter

Sheets and pillowcases: easy to wash. Bedspreads? Not so much. So some hotels just… don’t. Even between guests. According to Reneta McCarthy, a former housekeeping manager for a major American hotel chain, it is possible that a hotel bedspread might only be changed four times a year. And you’re not even safe with a duvet that has a removable cover: McCarthy says that if there is a top sheet between the duvet and the bed, the cover might not be washed between guests. So before you get into bed, take off the dirty bedspread!

Unplug or Reset the Alarm Clock

An absent-minded or mean-spirited guest may have set the bedside alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. Make sure the alarm has been turned off when you arrive in your room, lest you be awoken or startled by an unexpected noise. Unfamiliar clocks may be tough to figure out, so if you have a cell phone, you can use that as an alarm clock instead. In that case, just unplug the bedside clock completely.

Put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Sign on the Door

Unless you want housekeeping or a turndown service barging in on you unexpectedly, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door as you enter. Just remember to take it off the doorknob in the morning if you want your room cleaned.

Study the Fire Escape Map

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever need it, but you need to have a plan for how you will get out of the hotel in the case of an emergency. Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the fire escape route from your room — it could save your life.

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flyingcajun June 11, 2014 - 10:49 am

Check for reviews on the property. We stayed in one place on a ski trip in France that we didn’t check out before we booked. It’s a crap shoot sometimes, reviews can be a mix but it’ll help you guage what you’re willing to deal with.

Paul June 11, 2014 - 2:31 pm

After watching Hotel Impossible, you should be a lot more worried about housecleaning – many were using same rags to clean toilets to “clean” everything. So everything was contaminated. I’d wipe down faucet, toilet, phone, switches, knobs and surfaces near beds for “bodily fluids”. If you’re really concerned, bring a black light. Also avoid touching handrails.

George June 11, 2014 - 5:47 pm

This is mostly alarmist, at best. We check for bedbugs, but all of the “sanitize everything” is just a waste of time and accomplishes very little. Think about it – you’re already touching so many shared surfaces throughout your day. Besides, a little regular exposure to bacteria is good for your immune health. If you could see the amount of airborne bacteria/spores that you inhale with every breath, you’d never worry about sanitizing surfaces again ;).

Kent C June 11, 2014 - 5:55 pm

Any particular antibacterial or cleaning wipes, etc anybody recommends?

I usually grab one of the small hand towels, soap it up and wipe down any and all handles, etc. but the wipes or something similar sounds easier and maybe more effective.

Any brands or tips would be helpful.

Also, watch out for needles and pins. For some reason I always seem to come close to stepping on those. I think people buy clothes, remove the pins and they get lost on the floor. Housekeeping can’t find those or all of them.

CCORD June 11, 2014 - 7:14 pm

I’ve started buying alcohol based wipes from Amazon Sanihands. I’m not a germaphobe – just read Heads in Beds – eewww. When I check the room I prop the door open with my bag. I also flush the toilet to make sure it’s working normally and stops running quickly. You need to re-sanitize everyday as the cleaning staff touches everything and it’s hardly sanitary as comment #2 states. If necessary on day 2 I’ll leave a note to not replace the comforter and decorative throw pillows back onto the bed because sometimes they keep doing it even when you place them in the closet!

Kent C June 11, 2014 - 10:17 pm

Thanks CCORD. I’ll check those out.

JEM June 11, 2014 - 10:43 pm


Having traveled frequently all over the world for business and pleasure during the last 30 years, rarely getting sick (maybe a day or so every couple of years), and never doing ANY of those things, it’s a wonder I’m still alive…

Never understood why anyone who shakes hands, eats at a restaurant, uses a public restroom, or, much worse, has children would care about


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