When you stay in a hotel for a few days, there’s a good chance you spend a hefty portion of your monthly mortgage or rent budget on a single room. It may be absurd, but the hotel industry – like most other industries – has learned that people willingly hand over their hard-earned cash for accommodations while on vacation.
But if you’re like me, you want to get your money’s worth. I want more than a good night’s rest for my $200. So when I leave the hotel, my bag is full of “extras” that help me save cash elsewhere. Some of these money-saving freebies are obvious, but there are others you may not even realize you can take.
Free Items to Take Home From Hotel Rooms
When my husband and I were shopping at Target recently, he tried to put a box of travel-size toothpaste in the cart. He claimed it was for his Dopp kit for an upcoming business trip, which made me cringe even more. Why pay for that toothpaste when upon check-in you can ask the desk attendant for a complimentary tube?
If you have sensitive skin like me, you may avoid using the hotel soap in the shower – but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely useless. You can use that bar as a freshener in your luggage, shoes, and clothing drawers at home.
Some people go for months or even years without buying shampoo by stocking up on hotel bottles. As long as you’re not picky about the brand, you could save oodles of money.
Where there’s shampoo, there’s conditioner. Grab both bottles from the bathroom before you check out.
Minty fresh breath doesn’t come cheap. A large bottle of Scope or Listerine can cost anywhere between $4 and $6 – and to be honest, I think that’s a big waste of money if you’re already taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. But if the hotel has left a bottle for you to use, put it in your pocket and save it for later. You never know when you’ll be out and about without a toothbrush or toothpaste and desire a clean mouth.
I travel with my electric razor – even though it takes up a lot of space – because I’m lazy about shaving. I don’t like spending the time it takes to shave with a razor and cream when my Norelco does just as good of a job. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t take advantage of the free disposable razor available at the front counter, because as much as I like to travel with my electric razor, I have often forgotten it (or its charger) at home. The disposable version is particularly useful to have in my bag if I’m traveling but not staying at hotels that offer free grooming products.
7. Shaving Cream
Because I don’t use the regular razor often, I rarely need shaving cream. However, I still take the travel size at the hotel because it’s manageable, just in case I need it. Besides, who wants to carry a huge can of Barbasol with them?
Moisturizer is excellent for your skin and a great product to have in the winter. Plus, the travel size is perfect to keep in your purse or glovebox, so you can have it ready at any time.
9. Magazines and Newspapers
The local magazines in your room and daily newspaper left outside your door are not only free but also helpful. There could be valuable coupons inside, along with other local happenings that you should know about.
10. Pens and Pencils
Doesn’t it seem that whenever you need a pen or pencil, they’re nowhere to be found? Stock up with the hotel pens found on the desk. Trust me, there are plenty more where those came from.
Pocket that small notepad to use at home for scratch paper. In the long run, it may save you money because you’ll be less apt to grab full sheets of printer paper.
12. Garbage Liners
You may be wondering why you would take the tiny garbage liner, and for what purpose you could possibly use it for. However, anyone who owns a dog knows that doody bags aren’t cheap, and the garbage liners that the hotel uses are the perfect size for picking up after your pooch.
13. Shoeshine Kit
While I don’t personally need to shine my shoes, I can still use that small shoeshine kit as a stocking stuffer or to add to a grown-up Easter basket.
These coffee packets are made to fill a small, one- or two-cup pot. But if you take three of them, you can make a full pot at home.
I take tea bags from hotels because I like to keep them in my jacket pockets during the winter months. If I’m ever waiting somewhere with a hot-and-cold water dispenser, I can make a nice cup of Earl Grey, warm myself up, and relax.
16. Fruit and Snacks
Not all hotels offer fruit and snacks, but if you see apples on the front desk, don’t be afraid to take one. Same goes for snacks, such as small bags of chips, breakfast bars, or bagels offered during breakfast. Taking these snacks with you while you’re out and about will keep the hunger pangs at bay and allow you to save time and money.
17. Sewing Kit
I think everyone should keep a sewing kit in their satchel or backpack at all times. The sewing kit can be used for simple problems, like replacing a rogue button, so you don’t have to hightail it to the tailor.
All these items can save you money throughout the year. And if you have an abundance of hotel freebies that you can’t possibly use, you can make a gift basket for a fellow frugal friend’s birthday, which instantly puts more cash back in your wallet.
What other common hotel freebies do you like to take?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)