After many nights spent on plywoodesque mattresses, listening to the competing roars of the air conditioner and the nearby freeway, trying to make do with one miserable dead pillow…
These 6 smallish, easy to pack items make cheap motel rooms more liveable no matter what your health.
6. iPod & speakers
Why do motels have cable TV but no sound system–often not even a clock radio? If you’ve got an mp3 player and a set of little lightweight speakers, bring them along. Load the player with your favorite soothing music or a novel you’ve been meaning to read. Also be sure to add nature sounds, guided meditation programs, or whatever you typically listen to as you drop off to sleep.
5. Coffee, tea, & morning snacks
Even if a cheap motel offers coffee, it’s probably…not tasty. A better way to start the day is to BYO breakfast. I’ve gone as far as to bring a two-cup coffee maker as well as my own filters and coffee. I’m also a fan of hardboiled eggs, nuts, and fruit. And the occasional cookie.
4. Night Light
I actually like stumbling about in the dark in strange rooms, trying to find the bathroom. But most people don’t, and precious few cheap motels have any kind of night light. So bring your own–something small, cheap, and as unbreakable as possible. Plug it in wherever’s most useful; the bathroom, maybe.
3. Nice toiletries in little bottles
Many cheap motels stay cheap by skimping on the amenities–each room is allotted one stingy bar of crumbly soap and that’s all. So travel with your own toiletries. I like to do this not just because it’s necessary, but because it’s nice. I like my own brand of shampoo and shower gel–they smell nice and remind me of home.
2. Earplugs & sleep mask
Silence and darkness don’t crowd the rooms in cheap motels. Because it’s not usually possible to travel with blackout curtains and sound-dampening walls, earplugs and sleep masks have to do. (That’s if you’re not listening to whale song on your iPod.) They’re simple, but they work, making a decent night’s sleep a possibility even in a noisy room near a neon sign.
1. Pillow From Home
The last motel room pillow I had was half pilled and half hard inside. I spent a couple of sleepless hours wishing I’d tossed my memory-foam pillow into the car. Pillows fit easily into cars on any road trip. Friends tell me that they’ll even bring their favorite pillows onto airplanes. I get that. A comfy pillow can make the difference between hours of fruitless tossing and a good night’s sleep–the holy grail of travel.
Finally: one big bonus thing that works only if you’ve got a car with plenty of room–your own mattress pad. Even the cotton-batting pads that fold down help some. I favor my boyfriend’s memory-foam pad, but it takes up many cubic feet of trunk space–pretty impractical for most trips. But oh how heavenly comfortable!