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17 Free Items You Should Take From Hotels

By Mikey Rox

hotel roomWhen 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

1. Toothpaste
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?

2. Soap
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.

3. Shampoo
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.

4. Conditioner
Where there’s shampoo, there’s conditioner. Grab both bottles from the bathroom before you check out.

be sure to take the shampoo and conditioner

5. Mouthwash
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.

6. Razor
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?

8. Moisturizer
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.

11. Notepads
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.

shoeshine

14. Coffee
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.

15. Tea
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.

Final Word

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)

Mikey Rox
Mikey Rox is an award-winning blogger and journalist whose work has appeared in more than 100 print and digital publications in North America and Europe, including CNN, The Advocate, The Baltimore Sun, and The Examiner Newspapers, among many others. He lives in New York City with his husband and their two dogs.

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  • Kathy Bradshaw

    @kathyrb I also take the kleenex and toilet paper roll from the bathroom. If continental breakfast in the lobby I also take a few extra packets of Splenda for my purse. Not excessive Splenda just usually 4 or 5 pkts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      Thanks for the comment, Kathy. The additional ideas are excellent. TP is expensive, so I’m with you on that one!

      • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

        Another excellent idea to add to this list! Thanks very much for commenting.

        • TexasLady

          Have you ever considered that people taking things like toilet paper and garbage can liners contribute to the high cost of the hotel room? I read an interview with a hotel manager that said they want you to take the complimentary toiletries, it’s good advertising, but TP and Kleenex? Give me a break…

        • think again

          The more people take from hotels the higher the cost for the hotelier and the higher the room rates will go. Hotel General Manager

  • Saveapenny89

    During our stay at an upscale hotel in the U.K. my husband and I had robes & slippers to use during our stay. We found out from the concierge that we could take both pairs of slippers with us. They weren’t of the highest quality, but they kept our feet warm for the rest of the winter. If we didn’t ask about keeping them, they would have stayed behind.

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      Another excellent idea to add to this list! Thanks very much for commenting.

      • think again

        be careful of those robes, slippers, pillows, blankets, spreads, towels, irons, sheets you take. We DO charge you for those. Hotel General Manager.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wiserus Vince Thorne

    what a list!

  • Flraven05

    I was hoping there was something not obvious on this list, but there wasn’t. How did you get this job?

  • Thekingofthecage

    Loo paper is the one. There always two, sometimes three rolls in the bathroom. You might not even use any. I always take them!

  • dawn white

    be careful with the tea in the room that is considered part of the wet bar, I was charged $4 a tea bag

  • Rick

    Wow…you cheapskates obviously never took an ethics class. The “advice” in this article is indicative of many of the larger problems in our society. News flash…it’s not just about you. I really wish hotels would charge folks like you for the amount of items you “use”. The argument that you have “paid” for these items in the room rate is disingenuous. The rates do not account for selfish morons with no ethics cleaning out the room of anything that isn’t nailed down. All in all, pretty pathetic.

    • Dan in PR

      Shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and conditioner all have the hotels logo them. They like when u take it. Its advertisement for them.

  • Fran

    I’m happy to take things like shampoo and toothpaste that I might use when travelling again, but why take stuff that you don’t use (eg the shaving products above)? It seems wasteful to me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      Thanks for the comment, Fran – I appreciate it. I agree that you shouldn’t take things you really don’t need, but in terms of the shaving product I take them just in case I forget my electric razor at home. It’s good to have a back-up on hand and not have to run out to a convenience store. Otherwise, even if I don’t use the grooming products, my husband can since he travels more than me and isn’t as concerned with frugality. It gives me piece of mind to stock him up before his trip so I know he’s not spending money that he doesn’t have to.

  • jesse

    I actually usually try NOT to use anything the hotel puts out. I’m pretty strict about not using stuff tested on animals and the majority of hotels I’ve been booked in use stuff that’s tested on animals (and/or is just overly perfumed and not really something I’d want to use).

    Hotel stuff usually fails if you care at all about sustainability as well – it’s more packaging for a smaller product, their pens run out mid-meeting if you get stuck using one, etc. These are “in a jam” items, not meant to be used long-term.

  • Uzupocky

    I think you would save a lot more money by not staying in hotels.

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      Love that comment! I agree. But some people have to stay there while they’re on business, etc. Why not save even more money? :)

  • Unimpressed

    Why stop at toilet paper? Heck, there’s sheets, towels, furniture, artwork, bathroom fixtures…it’s all covered by the rates right?

    I can’t believe you’d give a shoe shine kit, which you basically stole, as a present.

    • Unimpressed

      Next Tip: Hang out at food banks to lower your shopping bills

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      They charge you for the pillows, ya know. Thanks for chiming in.

      Also, my husband loved the shoe shine kit. Best $5 I never spent.

  • http://world-flavor.com/ Jeff

    I stayed in a hotel in Singapore that had a complimentary rubber duck for your bath and teddy bear for your bed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/M1KEYR0X Mikey Rox

      OMG! I totally wanna stay there. That sounds like a beautifully cozy place. Thanks for the comment, Jeff.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DH44HSU4CFMUEKVT2SBJ73YXQI health1_au

      I’d take them too.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DH44HSU4CFMUEKVT2SBJ73YXQI health1_au

    Here’s a tip:

    If you’re sweet to the lady who changes your sheets and wipes out your tub, and you ask her for some extra shampoo or skin cream, she’ll give you TONS of the stuff and then some (not to mention sweet smiles when she sees you) during your entire stay. Works well for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1646610158 Jennifer Hamann Black

    some things listed here I’ve never seen in a hotel room, so that means I need to upgrade my vacations and stay where you stay :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sara.serebrinsky.7 Sara Serebrinsky

    Well, yes and dont forget to take the TV- set with you when you leave the hotel and the furniture. Is this the new trend of the 21st century to grab everything you can get, to be extremely selfish, to maximize all offers your own way, to take the maximum benefit and advantage of error fares for hotels and airplane tickets, to grab all discount codes from promotions on the internet you can get, no matter if you really need them, just grab..take… I am supporting families in third world countries who have other problems and sorrow in their mind, like what am i going to eat today or what am i supposed to do to provide my kids a basic school education?

  • Hotel General Manager

    We stopped giving tubes of toothpaste and cans of shaving cream for this reason. Guests were using our hotel as their one stop amenity shop each week as they came to visit. Now we give the 1 time use packets instead.

  • Sheldon

    Lightbulbs, batteries from the tv remote, salt and pepper (not the shakers)

  • Steph

    How selfish! I’m a couponer and I’m constantly on the lookout for deals but I don’t steal. The more money hotels have to spend on stolen TP and the like, the higher the rates or the lower the pay for their workers. Theft isn’t a victimless crime, despite what you may think. And if you don’t need at item but take it simply because you can, it may not be a crime but it’s certainly immoral. I take the items I’ve already used since I know they’d be thrown out anyway (this list doesn’t include TP and tissues, by the way). I also don’t consider things swiped from hotels as appropriate gifts. How cheap can you get? I don’t care if the recipient loves the gift or not, showing someone you appreciate them by handing them a cheap item you swiped and then thought months later that the person may like it doesn’t show them you care. The best way to save money on trips? Save up in advance, pay with cash, have a plan of what you’ll spend and stick to that plan. You’ll save more money by planning than you ever would swiping shampoos.

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