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7 Things Not to Do at Hotel Checkout

Checking out of a hotel seems like a simple enough process, but it can sometimes trip up even experienced travelers—especially if it involves stumbling around at dawn to stuff everything in a suitcase and make an early flight. Below are a few common mistakes people make during hotel checkout; avoid them, and you’ll save yourself time, money, and stress.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #1: Failing to Double-Check Your Bill

Hotels are notorious for tacking on hidden fees. While some are unavoidable, you’ll want to scan your bill for anything that looks fishy—such as charges for snacks or drinks when you didn’t touch the minibar, or a dinner in the hotel restaurant that was charged to the wrong room number. Be sure to dispute these charges and get an updated copy of the receipt before you check out.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #2: Leaving Something Behind

My parents once made it all the way to the airport in Paris before realizing they had left their passports in the hotel safe. Needless to say, they missed their flight—and had a stressful ending to an otherwise pleasant trip.

Their story isn’t uncommon. In addition to leaving things in the safe, travelers often forget about toiletries in the shower and phone chargers in out-of-sight, out-of-mind electrical outlets.

Pack as much as you can the night before, when you’re not stressed for time. Then, right before hotel checkout, do one last sweep of your room. Peek under the bed for things that might have fallen, pull back the shower curtain, check all the outlets, and open up the safe.

One trick long recommended by savvy travelers: Put one of your shoes in the safe the night before so you can’t leave without opening it. Another option is to bring along your pre-trip packing list and go over it to make sure you have everything before you leave the hotel.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #3: Forgetting to Leave a Tip

Don’t forget your hardworking (and often underpaid) housekeeper in your rush to get out the door. If you don’t have small bills handy, the front desk can make change for you. Consider leaving the equivalent of $2 to $5 each night of your stay, depending on local tipping norms and how messy you are.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #4: Not Allowing Enough Time

In an ideal world you’d step out of the elevator, hand the keycard to a front desk staffer, and complete your hotel checkout in about 90 seconds. Don’t count on that—especially if you’re staying at a large hotel that caters to conventions and/or tour groups. Such properties often have long lines at the front desk during the most popular checkout times.

If you’ve got a plane or train to catch, allow yourself plenty of extra time to check out—just in case.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #5: Letting the Hotel Call You a Cab

Yes, it’s convenient, but travelers on a budget should order themselves an Uber or Lyft instead. Not only will the fare likely be cheaper, but you’ll also save a few bucks on tips for the hotel staff.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #6: Failing to Reserve a Spot on the Airport Shuttle

If you’re staying in an airport hotel before an early flight, chances are the property offers a free shuttle—but don’t assume you can just show up at 5:30 a.m. and hop on. Shuttle spots can be limited, and many hotels recommend (or even require) that you reserve your place the night before.

Once you make a reservation, be sure to arrive on time. The front desk might give you a courtesy call if you aren’t in the lobby when the van is ready to leave, but with other passengers in a hurry to make their flights, the shuttle might not wait long.

Hotel Checkout Mistake #7: Overstaying Your Welcome

Most hotels require that travelers check out by 11:00 a.m. or noon so housekeepers have time to clean rooms for the next guest. Be sure you know the deadline at your hotel so you can plan accordingly.

If you need a little extra time, call the front desk as far in advance as you can and see if they can accommodate you. Don’t just stay in the room beyond the checkout time; you will disrupt the housekeeping schedule and could face extra fees.

Have you made any of these hotel mistakes?

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

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