How to Make Your Hotel Room More Comfortable

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As we make our way across Latin America, on the long drive south to Patagonia, we often stay in cheap, budget hotels so we can stretch our travel dollars as far as possible but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it trying to make your hotel room more comfortable.

Of course, when possible we seek out free camping where we can sleep in the back of my truck, usually in the many incredible national parks along the way. But in the cities that we explore, the option boils down to paying for an expensive campground or grabbing a cheap hotel room sometimes for a night and other times for a week on end. These are some tips for living in a hotel room that will help you feel cozy while you travel to new places.

These are a few of my favorite ways to overcome the problems presented by cheap budget hotel rooms with a few products that you should think about bringing along to make the hotel room feel a little more like home.

How to Make Your Hotel Room More Comfortable travel-tips-and-resources, travel, how-to


Make Your Hotel Room More Comfortable

More often than not, the prices to camp per person, are the same as what it costs for a cheap hotel room in Latin America. These cheap budget hotels range between $10 – $20 per night for a couple — some times even less, though that is rare.

While these hotels are perfectly agreeable for the most part, with a comfy bed, TV, WiFi, and secure parking, there are a few things we be sure bring along with us in our travels that make our hotel nights a little more comfy or less problematic, at least.

Extension Cord

Many times we find only one electrical outlet in a room, and it is usually on the other side of the room, far from the bed. Even if we’re in a small space, it almost never seems like our phone cables will reach the bed so we can use them as they charge.

A simple six foot extension cord is probably the most important thing we have for budget hotel life. It’s best if your extension cord offers up two or three connections so you can plug in phones, computers, charge cameras, etc.

gear for budget hotel-5

I can’t stress the simple extension cord enough when you travel throughout Latin America and staying in cheap hotels! Definitely make sure to pack one.

Buy an Extension Cord on Amazon

Electric Water Kettle

A hot water heater was a recent addition to our arsenal and has made a world of difference in making the room feel like home. I’m not sure why we hadn’t thought of this earlier. Before we would bring in the JetBoil so we could heat up water, but now we have a simple way to boil water in the room while on the road.

Not only does this treat otherwise suspect water, but it allows us to make coffee in the morning, make oatmeal for breakfast, or heat up water in the evenings for tea, instant coffee, or an instant soup.

Having a water kettle is a trick for how to make a hotel room feel cozy and more like home.

This simple purchase has been a game changer, and it’s obviously much safer than using a JetBoil in the room.

Buy an Electric Water Kettle on Amazon

Three Prong to Two Prong Adapter

Along with the extension cord, a three-prong to two-prong outlet adapter (also known as a polarized grounding adapter) is crucial.

The vast majority of budget hotels do not have the three prong outlets available, which means I can’t connect my computer while I travel.

A simple three prong to two prong adapter has been huge for our comfort in a hotel.

I keep it tied to my extension cord with a little twist tie so I don’t ever lose it.

Buy an Adaptor on Amazon


I’ve spoken often about how the Aeropress is the best way to make coffee while traveling, and that most definitely includes hotel life. For me, this doesn’t matter if you’re in an upscale hotel or a budget hotel, this is coming along.

Couple the Aeropress with the hand-held burr grinder and the electric water kettle mentioned above, and that means we can drink really good coffee for breakfast or whenever we want. This is how to make a hotel room feel cozy and a bit more like home.

The Aeropress is a great way to make coffee while you travel and for how to feel at home in a hotel.

Some days we stay in the hotel to get work done, and I like my coffee while I work, so this means we can avoid going out and searching for a coffee shop (sometimes harder said than done in South America), and we save money by making it ourselves. Definitely give the Aeropress a try, it is more than worth the modest cost and will mean a world of comfort in hotel rooms.

Buy an Aeropress on Amazon


If you’ve ever traveled through Latin America or the developing world, you know that you can’t drink the water (except in very rare places, but always check). But bringing along a SteriPen means that I can treat the tap water and drink it!

This means I don’t have to be buying plastic water bottles (extremely wasteful) and I save the time and money of searching them out.

It is handy that it is rechargeable by USB, so you don’t have to worry about batteries either.

I regularly drink tap water thanks to the SteriPen and I’ve never gotten sick yet.

Thanks to the SteriPen we also treat water for our morning cereal (with powdered milk) for another easy breakfast option without leaving the room.

Buy a Steripen from REI


Let’s face it, oftentimes a cheap hotel is often a noisy hotel. Even if you’re way out in the country side, you might have roosters crowing or dogs barking at all hours of the night.

The smartphone app Relaxio (totally free!) has been an absolute lifesaver for nights like that.

It’s basically a white noise machine, allowing you to mix and match your preferred noises which can include the ocean waves, a crackling campfire, rain drops, a running stream, and much more.

Relaxio is a great way to add white noise to sleep better in a hotel.

You can set it to run all night long to wash out unwanted noises, or you can put it on a sleep timer to help you get some shut eye.

Couple this with a sleep eye mask, and you can still get your beauty rest in even the noisiest of hotels. This is definitely a good trick for how to make your hotel room more comfortable when you’ve got thin walls or noisy neighbors.

I’ve even used this with headphones while camping when my tent mate was snoring non-stop before a summit attempt. 

Download Relaxio from Google Play

So there you have it, a few products and ideas for how to make even the cheapest of hotels a little more cozy and feel like home. What do you bring along to make your hotel visit a little better?

Traveling to a cheap budget hotel on your next trip? Book the perfect room on today! If you plan to stay longer, I highly recommend looking for a place on Airbnb. And don’t forget to purchase international travel insurance that will help protect you against illness, injury, and theft. I use and recommend World Nomads for its combination of coverage and affordability.

Read Next: How to Stay in Luxury Hotels for Free

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How to Make Your Hotel Room More Comfortable travel-tips-and-resources, travel, how-to


Head Writer and Adventurer at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West, and then across all of Central America and South America. When he isn't on the move, you can find him living as an expat in Colombia. He is also the author of the best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget that will help you travel more for less. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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Comments 7

  1. Love these tips, especially the 3-to-2 prong adapter! I’ve hit that problem right here in the middle of the US.

    As a solo female, I always carry two rubber doorstops to wedge underneath the main door and any connecting door. (Important to get the rubber ones since hard ones just scoot over the floor.) I’m not a nervous traveler but figure I’m at my least aware in the room relaxing, bathing or sleeping.

    Also, in non-travel life I empty my change in a jar at home, but on the road I like to hang onto it for late-night vending machine runs down the hotel hallway. 🙂 Also good if you hit an unexpected tollway.

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  2. Your articles are great, packed with information and I enjoy reading them. Through your writings I have found the emerging culture of travelers. And, good point on the 3 to 2 prong adapter which is also handy in libraries with your laptop.
    See ya down the road.

  3. Great list Ryan! We have used all those things when travelling and they make such a difference.
    Some alternatives when travelling without a car :
    1) we take an immersion heater instead of an electric kettle as it’s much smaller and takes up minimal luggage space – very important for us as we live in New Zealand, so pretty well anywhere we go overseas is a long distance and luggage weight/size really matters! (similar to this –

    2) We take a small coffee plunger (cafetière/French press) and buy ready-ground coffee beans to avoid the need for filters – make it extra strong then add more water to dilute when making more than one cup. And an aerolatte for frothing milk when there’s a microwave handy. Also small and easy to pack!

    And I now just use ear-plugs as white noise keeps me awake ! (My husband isn’t disturbed by noise, luckily, he can sleep through anything – but he would wake if there was a burglar etc!

    Another tip: budget hotels often have curtains that don’t meet properly when closed so a few spring-pegs come in handy to hold them shut.

    I would love to travel in South America one day, my brother’s been twice and loved it.

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      This is awesome, Judith, thanks so much for chiming in with your perspective. Funny, we too use a little plastic clip to clothes the curtains as well, I forget to include something so small and simple, but I should definitely add that.

      You should check out the Aeropress though (with a metal filter), since the clean up is waaay easier. You can still buy a bag of ground beans, which we sometimes must do when we can’t find whole beans in our travels.

      Ear plugs and an eye-mask are most excellent additions.

      Never used one of those immersion heaters, but many travelers swear by them.

      Thanks for the input!

  4. Thanks for sharing some great ideas. I love the idea of bringing along a kettle – seems so simple, yet who would’ve thought of it? Your ideas are really practical and easy to do, yet it sounds like they’ve really added to your level of comfort. I especially like your tip about securing the adapter to the extension cord with a twist tie – those small pieces are easy to misplace.

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      The hot water kettle has definitely been an awesome thing to have on the road, I’d recommend it. Thanks so much for checking out the article, Chris!

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