Making the Most of Your Hotel Room Living

Living life from a hotel room can be fun, but can also have its challenges.  For one, free maid service!  Who doesn’t love that?  But, it can also pose challenges to normal day to day life as you know it in a fully equipped home.  If you plan on hotel/motel life during your next assignment, take a look at these ideas to make the most of your stay!

You can cook in a hotel room

There are definitely a lot of “hack” videos online about hotel cooking.  But let’s be real…who wants their coffee pot to taste like hot dogs?  Or toasting your grilled cheese on the *cringe* hotel iron?  Yuk!  Making a healthy, home cooked meal in your hotel room is totally do-able with the proper planning.  Here are some ideas:

    • Pack a kitchen bin with the essentials you will need.  This will allow you to cook as if you were at home!
      • A small crock pot (crockpot liners make cleanup much easier!)
      • A single or double burner (that just plugs right into the wall!)
      • A few pans and cooking utensils (don’t forget a sharp knife or two for prep!)
      • Plates, bowls, eating utensils and cups (bonus points if they are disposable…what wants all those dishes anyways?)
      • Basic seasonings (salt, pepper..etc)
      • Basic condiments (ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce…etc)
    • Make the most of your microwave.  You would be surprised at all of the things that can be cooked in a microwave.  Here are a few things that you probably didnt realize are just as good in the microwave as they are cooked in a pan:
      • Corn on the cob– Leave it in the husk and just throw the whole thing in the microwave for a few minutes.  Then you can just cut the bottom end of the husk off and slide the cob out of it.  Here is a great how to video on this.
      • Vegetables– Frozen or even fresh broccoli, cauliflower and green beans are all just as good steamed in the microwave as they are cooked on the stove.  Just add a few tablespoons of water and cover with some plastic wrap.  Microwave in 3 minute increments until you have reached the desired tenderness.  Then drain the water and add your butter / seasonings.  It’s that easy!
      • Starches– Did you know that you can make a baked potato in the microwave?  And they taste just as good as out of the oven…in a fraction of the time.  Make sure you use a fork or knife to poke a few holes in the potato (or sweet potato) and just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes depending on the size of your potato.  I think they usually take about 6-8 mins total for a medium sized potato.  Just squeeze the middle to check.  If it is not hard and has some give to it…its ready!  Make sure you place them on a plate in the microwave because they can seep some liquid out of the holes you poked.  Your winter squashes can be cooked a similar way (acorn, butternut, spaghetti…etc).  Just poke a few holes and microwave for 5 or so minutes to soften it up.  Then cut them in half, deseed and place back in the microwave with about an inch of water on your plate.  Cover and microwave a few more minutes until you reach the desired tenderness.
      • Pasta– Many boxed pastas have microwave instructions on the box.  Think of all of the pastabilities this opens up when paired with your crock pot!
      • Eggs–  You can make any type of egg you like in the microwave.  There are certain contractions that may help you…however, you don’t need them.  Just follow this basic tutorial for some eggcellent breakfast options.
      • Proteins– Bacon!  Need I say more?  You would be surprised how many meats can be prepared in the microwave, safely.  Fish, poultry and even ground pork or beef can be zapped in the microwave to create a variety of dishes for your next hotel meal.  Check out a list of 25 microwave meals here to get your creative culinary juices flowing!
    • Convenience Foods are OK!  I’m not just talking about your basic TV dinner loaded with sodium and preservatives.  Yes- we all indulge in those once in a while.  But there is so much more to convenience foods these days…let them make your life sooooo much easier (and yummier!)  Here are some convenience foods that will rock your meal:
      • Pre-packaged Meals–  There are many plans out there ( like featuring healthy and cost effective prepackaged meals that can be cooked in the microwave or small convection oven (there’s no reason you can’t tote a small air fryer along with you!)  check out this list of the top 5 meal plan service reviews.  There are also great options in the freezer section at your local grocery store.
      • Par Cooked Starches– Rice, pasta, couscous and other starches / grains are available already partially cooked in bags you can just pop into the microwave.  So you can have a great accompaniment to whatever you have cooking in your crockpot!
      • Bagged Salads– Bagged salads are a great side dish that come all bundled up with everything you need.  This allows you to have a good daily variety without having to store / prep different fresh veggies and dressings.
      • Prepared Deli Salads / meals– Your local grocery store likely has a fresh deli offering prepared items like chicken salad, coleslaw, fruit salad…etc,  These items are usually prepared fresh daily or every few days making a great go to.  Most also offer pre-made meals as well as a hot food buffet counter.
      • Here is a pretty extensive list of some great convenience food options!
    • Order out once in a while.  Don’t want to cook every night?  Take advantage of local restaurants.  You can either pick it up or have it delivered.  You can do it cheaper and healthier if you like by pairing it with items you have in your hotel room already!  Like a bagged salad or steam yourself a side of broccoli in the microwave instead of that side of fries.
    • Take advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast.  There are several perks to a free hot (or even continental breakfast).  Many hotels offer a decent spread of cereals, granola bars and oatmeals that are non perishable.  Stock your hotel room pantry!  Grab some hot chocolate too!  Don’t want breakfast?  Make yourself a PB&J sandwich with the peanut butter and jelly packs they have and the white bread they put out for toast.  Grab yourself a milk or 2 each day to keep in your fridge. 

Bring some comforts of home

While hotels make it a priority to make you feel at home during your stay, the amenities are limited when it comes to the comforts of home for long stays.  Just a few of your favorite items can make your stay less like a hotel and more like a home away from home.

    • Air fresheners-  Whether you already know what your favorite one is or if you are open to new and exciting options, nothing makes you feel at home like a comforting aroma.  Hotel rooms can tend to smell a bit stale, so glam it up a bit!  An air freshener spray in the bathroom also goes a long way if there is more than one guest staging with you.
    • Bedding / pillows- The pillows in your room may not be of the best quality, and your sleep is important!  Bring a soft / warm blanket and a pillow or two that you love to make your bed more comfy.
    • Slippers-  Minor detail, but it does make it feel a bit more luxurious (and less cringy) to not have to walk on the bare floors.  I also like to purchase a few cheap (but comfy) throw rugs for the bathroom and bedside.
    • Toiletries- Yes, the hotel offers free shampoo and soap.  But they may not be the best option for long term use.  Bring some of your favorite products along with you including conditioner, body wash or soap and even some bubble bath and some candles (if your room has a bathtub.)

Take advantage of the neighborhood

No matter where you are, there are fun things to do!  You can either live like a local or be a savvy tourist…but either way, get out there!  Take advantage of the local attractions on your days off.  Hotel rooms can get kind of boring and give you a bit of cabin fever after a while.  Do some research and figure out some ways to have some fun and get some steps in.  There are likely some free options in your area if you are trying to save some bucks.  Ask the hotel front staff for recommendations, look for the hotel’s attractions display for coupons and visit online sites like to get rated ideas.  Groupon has some fun things to do at discounted rates as well.

Following these suggestions can make your stay in a hotel more fulfilling, restful and fun!  Each time, you will figure out your own tips and tricks that you will carry along with you and hopefully pass along to your fellow travelers.  Here at Pamela’s List, we love to hear all about your journey…check in and tell us your story!

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