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. 

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Visit Any National Park for Free on September 26—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

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

Temperatures are quickly cooling down, and you might be inclined to take advantage of the last few long, sunny days with a weekend visit to the great outdoors. This Saturday, September 26, you can bask in the open air 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. Opportunities for volunteering include tree-planting, park cleanups, and more; you can find events near you here. There are also a number of virtual events you can tune into, which range from wildlife livestreams and virtual tours to how-to webinars (a Virginia State Parks ranger, for example, will teach you how to make a bee hotel).

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.

If you do decide to celebrate National Public Lands Day on public lands, you should contact the park—or check its website—before you head there so you know of any coronavirus-related protocols they've put in place. And for those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 26, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veterans Day on November 11.