Summer holidays is the time when many of us load up the van, pack up the snacks and head out for a good old fashioned family road trip!  It’s so fun but I have learned over the years that adding some key essentials to your hotel packing list can vastly improve the family hotel experience.  There are plenty of packing tips on Pinterest but I have yet to find the following in one comprehensive save-your-hotel-sanity list!  Read on!

Hotel Packing List Essentials
Here are 5 essentials you might not have thought to add to your hotel packing list!

Hotel Packing List Essential #1: Headlamp

If you’re lucky enough to have separate rooms for parents and kids, this might not relate to you but for those of us who are cheap not in that situation, a headlamp is a lifesaver.  Even if my kids stay up late, they still go to bed before I’m ready to.  I love reading on vacation and with a headlamp, I can do just that without disturbing the rest of my family.  Before I discovered this handy tip, I would either a) keep the lights on and put up with an hour or two of complaints plus tired cranky kids, or b) turn the lights out at their bedtime and subsequently lie there thinking thinking thinking for hours, and no one wants mom to do that, least of all on vacay!

Hotel Packing List Essentials
Headlamps are NOT just for camping!

Hotel Packing List Essential #2: Small Cooler

In case you haven’t noticed, Texas is hot! Summer is hot and staying hydrated is essential.  B.C. (Before Cooler), I always packed us drinks-to-go that were warm after the first rest stop; repeat the scenario every single day of vacation.  A.C. (After Cooler), we load up drinks and ice and enjoy cool bevvies the entire way to our destination.  Once we get to our hotel, we buy a couple cases of water and soda, and each morning, replenish the cooler with drinks and ice then take it in the vehicle as we tour about.  So refreshing AND I save a ton of money by not buying water bottles and drinks at the gas station or hotel vending machine!

Hotel Packing List Essentials
We have had this cooler for close to two decades. Doesn’t have to be fancy, y’all.

Hotel Packing List Essential #3: S-Hooks

If you’ve ever struggled to hang towels and swimsuits for a family of four or more on the paltry hotel hooks or over the shower curtain rod, this tip is for you!  S-hooks are cheap, small and increase your hanging potential exponentially!  My family did a massive road trip from Alberta, Canada to Disneyland – thousands of miles, several hotels, most of which did not offer pool or beach towels meaning that we had not five but ten wet towels most days.  Hotel closets typically have ten or less hangers – not nearly enough for a family!  S-hooks save the day!  You might have to bend them a bit, but they should fit over the shower rod and closet rod.  They can also hold pajamas, not-quite-dirty-enough-to-go-in-the-laundry clothes and toiletry bags with hooks.  Trust me on this one and slip some s-hooks into your suitcase next road trip!

Hotel Packing List Essentials
S-hooks on the shower curtain rod!
Hotel Packing List Essentials
S-hooks on the hotel closet clothing rod – I could have brought twice as many dresses to Austin!

Hotel Packing List Essential #4: Toaster

I felt like the most brilliant traveler in the world when I packed a small toaster for our Disneyland road trip!  Not every hotel included breakfast, most notably, not the hotel we stayed at in Anaheim for eight days.  Recently on a road trip to Austin, my family nearly missed the 9:30 free breakfast deadline more than once.  With a toaster, none of that matters!  Grab a few bagels, some whole wheat bread, Pop Tarts or Toaster Streudels if you’re feeling indulgent, along with a jar of peanut butter and some portable or disposable plates and knives.  You’ve just experienced the cheapest meal of your vacation!  #winningatlife

Hotel Packing List Essentials
The toaster in action in Anaheim! I should mention, it made for great late night snacks after a long day at Disneyland too!

Hotel Packing List Essential #5: Collapsible Laundry Hamper

Last but not least, the one item that has saved my sanity more than any other: the collapsible laundry hamper!  The laundry bags provided by the hotel simply cannot accommodate the laundry that one family accumulates over the course of a road trip and nothing drives this momma crazy faster than dirty clothes strewn about a small shared space.  I picked up my collapsible laundry hamper from Walmart and it fits in my suitcase one size up from carry-on {in other words, you could take this one on a plane trip too!}.  It holds a surprising amount and can be packed as is into the van for the trip home.  I love my collapsible hamper so much I use it all year round and it’s still going strong.  This might be the best ten bucks I’ve ever spent!

Hotel Packing List Essentials
Please note the tidy hotel corner – IMPOSSIBLE without a collapsible laundry hamper!

I hope this list offers something new to even the most seasoned traveler!  What are your packing essentials?  What would you add to this list?!

xoxo Nicole

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Packing List Essentials Hotel


  1. I’m dying at the toaster! But especially the S-hooks were brilliant! Thanks for sharing and coming back home.

    • nicole

      hee hee, well the toaster tucked right in front on the floor and was a lifesaver! Glad you like the tips!!