8 Crafty Ways to Make Your Hotel Room Feel Like Home

iStock
iStock

After a long day spent exploring a new place, nothing feels nicer than coming home to a spacious, comfortable hotel room. But that’s hardly the case for travelers on a budget, who instead get stuck with small bathrooms, thin walls, and old mattresses. For those times you’re not lodging in luxury, a little preparation is all it takes to transform your hotel room into a cozy haven. 

1. LIGHT A CANDLE.

It's hard to get comfortable in a place that still smells like the last people who slept there. Consider picking up a scented candle that reminds you of home to personalize your otherwise bland room. Just make sure to check with the front desk before lighting it, and be careful not to set off any smoke alarms when blowing it out.

2. PACK YOUR OWN COFFEE. 

Even hotels with bare-bones amenities understand that caffeine is a basic human right. Instead of brewing the generic, individually packaged stuff provided by the hotel, pack your favorite blend in a plastic baggie. The familiar scent of your go-to coffee will make waking up in a strange place a little more tolerable. 

3. STREAM YOUR FAVORITE SHOWS.

When staying at a hotel, pass on the pay-per-view and instead take advantage of the streaming services you're already paying for. If your room's television has an HDMI port, all you need is an HDMI cable or a cordless media streamer to set yourself up for a night of binge-watching—without the surprise bill the next morning.

4. BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BLANKET)

Hotel bedding is often bulky, starchy, and tucked too tightly—and that's a best-case scenario. Forego the provided comforter and pack some of your favorite items from home for an easier night's sleep: Your favorite pillow and your softest blanket can make all the difference. And if you only have room for a single stuffed animal, we won't judge. 

5. THINK AHEAD BY BRINGING A POWER STRIP.

The bane of every modern traveler's existence is finding places to plug in all their devices. Instead of performing impromptu feng shui to utilize every available outlet in your room, simplify your life by picking up a power strip. No one should have to choose between charging their phone and keeping it by their bed.

6. KEEP YOUR FAVORITE DRINK ON HAND.

When returning to your hotel room after an exhausting day, nothing sounds better than relaxing with your favorite nightcap. This is the same reason why so many hotel guests succumb to high mini bar prices. If you pick up your preferred drink beforehand, that $14 mini bottle of vodka won't seem as tempting.

7. INVEST IN A WI-FI BASE.

This is a smart move for frequent travelers who end up paying hotel Wi-Fi fees on a regular basis. With a portable Wi-Fi base of your own you will no longer be at the mercy of unfair charges and elusive passwords. A life of guaranteed free Wi-Fi is definitely one worth living. 

8. ASK FOR DISHES. 

Most hotels are more than willing to provide dishes to guests who ask for them. This is a smart way to encourage yourself to eat the leftovers waiting in your mini-fridge instead of going out. It might even trick you into feeling like you're eating a home-cooked meal. 

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

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