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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This simple purchase has been a game changer, and it’s obviously much safer than using a JetBoil in the room.
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.
I keep it tied to my extension cord with a little twist tie so I don’t ever lose it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Booking.com 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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