Vacations are expensive. No matter how you slice it, you’re going to be paying out the nose for gas, tickets, dinners, and most of all, hotels. Sure, you could “camp out” instead, but studies show that 28% of families who go camping are attacked by an axe wielding maniac. Unsurprisingly this was the preferable option to spending the whole night on the ground. To be safe, stay in a hotel, and use these ancient Amish secrets get the most value for your dollar.
Back in the good old days you could check into a hotel with an empty casket sized suitcase and leave with a treasure trove of goodies. Pillows, televisions, even shower heads were on the menu. Not anymore. Nowadays most hotels will keep your credit card on file, so if you want any extra perks, you need to be subtle.
- Never tip. Carry your own bag, or better yet, have your kids do it for you. Instead of leaving money for the housekeepers, leave something even more valuable: wisdom. I recommend printing out one of my articles and leaving it on the desk. Failing any foresight I recommend just writing down my website on the stationary.
- Pack Your Pockets. Free breakfast also means free lunch and dinner if you do it right. My wife and I always bring Tupperware to breakfast and pack it full of food. Pastries and bread keep the best, avoid fruits and yogurts. The best way to store food is in your body, so I recommend eating until you are sick before filling your stores.
- Stock up on Shampoo. You think we actually buy soap and shampoo for our kids? Heck no, we load up at hotels. Even travel newbies have the mindset to grab the free stuff they leave for you, but that’s where we get started. Each morning find the laundry cart and take one or two shampoos and soaps without getting caught. On the day you checkout have your wife distract the maid while you shovel the liquid gold into your suitcase.
- Matching Towels. Oh yes, get some towels, just be careful. Take one towel a day so they won’t notice any missing. If they have a pool or gym with free towels – jackpot. Fill your suitcase. They make great gifts!
- Free Newspapers. Most hotels give you a free newspaper in the morning, which is nice. The real value is in the stack of papers they have in the lobby. You could grab a couple and use them as bedding for your kids at home, but you can do better. Pick up the entire stack and sell them on the nearest street corner. This will allow you to recover several of your hard earned dollars. Even better: have your kids do the selling while you actually read the paper, its win win.
- Left Behinds. Many hotels will offer complimentary toiletries if you forget them at home, all you need to do is ask. My wife and I conveniently forget all of our toiletries and get a full set every time. When they change desk agents, go back for another set!
- Battery Police. On your way out the door, replace working batteries from the tv remote, alarm clock, and hair dryer with dead ones from your home. Keep the working batteries for whenever you need them. This may seem like a small tactic, but we probably save dozens of dollars on batteries each year by swapping out batteries at hotels and friends homes.
- Light Bulbs. This is the real cash cow. Bring a variety of burnt out bulbs from your house, and replace them with all of the working light bulbs in your room (you might need a screwdriver). To mask their astonishment at all the lights being burned out, you will need to concoct a good story. Give a vague explanation involving sparks and a sudden darkness.
- Pens and Stationery. It is said that Tolstoy wrote the first draft of “War & Peace” on a pad of hotel stationery. The odds that you will ever write anything greater than a poorly spelled grocery list are pretty slim, but go ahead and grab all of the pens and notepads anyway. Hotel stationary is the only supplies we give to our kids for school. The teachers complain, but we save close to twenty dollars a year on paper and office supplies.
- Toilet Paper. Amateur: taking the half finished roll from the room. Experienced: Taking the half finished rolls from all the public bathrooms in the hotel. Professional: when you check in, anxiously ask the front desk ask for diarrhea medication. Go back an hour later and ask for new rolls of toilet paper. Repeat several times.