Hotel rooms can sometimes lack warmth: neutral colors, impersonal art and none of the familiar objects you associate with home.
Experienced travelers have a solution: They pack a few key items that have the power to immediately transform a drab hotel room into a cozy retreat.
From slippers to pillows to scented sprays, here are some items to consider fitting into your suitcase before your next overnight trip:
Your softest fabrics
For Kimberly Wilson, a therapist and creator of the podcast "Tranquility du Jour," an organic fleece infinity scarf serves as a lap blanket, head cover and scarf all in one. “It fits perfectly in my purse,” she says. She also packs slippers for extra warmth and cushioning on cold hotel floors.
Pleasance Silicki, yoga teacher and author of “Delight: Eight Principles for Living With Joy and Ease,” says that in addition to a few pairs of soft yoga clothes for early morning and end-of-day stretching, she brings her own robe so she can curl up with her journal in her room in comfort, as well as her favorite meditation shawl. “Just looking at it reminds me to sit and pause and breathe,” she says.
Your favorite tea bags
Everyone has their own morning wake-up routine, and it doesn’t necessarily involve the kind of free coffee often provided in hotel rooms. Wilson packs reusable water bottles, tea bags and crystallized lemon packets to make her favorite hot lemon concoction. That way, she doesn’t have to rely on an unfamiliar coffee maker or experiment with a new kind of tea.
Your own pillow
In addition to the comfort of resting your head at a familiar angle, your own pillow can also help reduce the chance of suffering from allergies while traveling, a common problem in new climates and stuffy hotel rooms. If you know you suffer from allergies, then Alison Warner, a clinical manager at United Allergy Services, a San Antonio-based allergy treatment company, suggests always packing your own pillow for a hotel stay. However, if it’s not possible to bring such a bulky item, she suggests a hypoallergenic pillow protector and pillowcase, which can also help keep allergies at bay.
Objects to help you unwind
Silicki says she always packs a handful of books, which she sets up right next to the bed or office area as soon she arrives, along with her journal and pens. “When I land in a room, I move things around so it feels right. If I’m traveling alone, I make it like a sacred sanctuary,” which includes setting out her work supplies in a way that feels inviting to her. Sometimes, she even packs a giant pad of sticky notes to capture ideas while on the go. For Silicki, that kind of note-taking and brainstorming can help her feel relaxed while traveling.
Scents that evoke relaxation
Commercial photographer and hotel expert Rhiannon Taylor says she always packs her favorite Atelier Lumira travel candle, because they come in lightweight tins and have a scent that smells like home to her. “There’s something about a familiar smell that’s incredibly comforting,” she says.
If hotel policy or concern about fire hazards prohibits the use of candles, then scented mists and oils can serve the same purpose. Wilson travels with rosewater face mist; Silicki uses battery-powered candles to set the mood and an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils to create the scents. “They help clear the air and settle me,” Silicki says, adding that she travels with a mix of eucalyptus, peppermint, grapefruit and chamomile oils.
The bottom line, Wilson says, is that travelers should pack the items that mean the most to them, and everyone’s list will be different. “Bring your creature comforts because they’ll make being in a new space much more enjoyable. Being able to stretch with my yoga mat, have pleasant scents with my candle, enjoy beverages I love at home and earplugs to drown out outside noise makes a world of difference,” she says.