Drab hotel room
Just another drab hotel room

8 Things to Do When You’re Stuck in a Hotel Room

For one reason or another, you might find yourself stuck in a hotel room when you thought you’d be out exploring a new destination. It’s happened to me a few times when the weather or a sudden illness is often the culprit.

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Rather than feel down about all the stuff you’re missing out on, here’s a list of the things I do to pass the time and make me feel like it’s still a fun part of my trip.

#1: Research, Read and Learn

Whether it’s a guidebook, brochures from the hotel or hostel lobby, or you’re online — spend your trapped time getting to know more about your destination. I’ve sometimes discovered a gem of a place to visit that I probably wouldn’t have discovered without that enforced room time!

Curiously enough some of that comes from those ubiquitous racks of tourist brochures often found in hostel and hotel lobbies — usually the brochures in hard-to-reach corners that most travelers ignore.

Graffiti: Boredom is YOUR Fault (London)
© bixentro

#2: Chat with the Staff

Assuming you’re not laid up with a contagious disease, take some time to get to know the staff at your accommodation. They’ll most likely be locals with lots of interesting tips for you and if you find you have some interests in common they might even help you get a taste of local life.

At the very least they’re likely to tell you the real truth about the best place to eat nearby or help you figure out something else to do if your plans have been totally disrupted.

#3: Play Games You’ve Forgotten

If you’re stuck with your traveling partner or it’s a weather-induced problem and you can find fellow travelers around, dig deep into the depths of your memory and play some games you probably haven’t played in years.

Even noughts and crosses will do if you’ve got nothing but pen and paper. I always travel with a pack of cards — you can even cross language barriers with a simple pack of cards!

Most ho(s)tels will have access to a supply of board games or packs of cards. Ask and you might even get the chance to learn a new game that’s popular in the country you’re traveling in.

It's Worth the Wait!
© QueenNeveen

#4: Write a Letter

Remember how people used to write on actual paper with a pen and send it to each other?

Remember how people used to write on actual paper with a pen and send it to each other? There’s something really special about getting a handwritten letter, but most people feel they never have time to write one or have nothing to write about.

Now’s the perfect time to write a beautiful letter to someone you care about. And since you’re on holidays or a big trip then you’ve probably also got plenty of news to tell them. (Just don’t dwell on the “stuck in the hotel room” bit for too long!)

#5: Get Creative

I’m no artist (in fact, I’m pretty much the opposite). But, in situations like this, I will actually grab a pencil and paper and try to improve my drawing skills. There are lots of other creative things you might try — origami, say, or something crafty that you have easy access to.

Something that always helps me relax and get creative in a situation like this is to remember that nobody’s going to race in, rip your drawing from your hands and publish it for the world to see. You’re just doing it for you, and it’s just meant to be for fun.

#6: Learn To Use Your Camera Properly

I’m sure that most of you, just like me, have numerous functions on your camera that you’ve never used. Even reasonably simple point-and-shoot cameras have heaps of extra functions.

While you’re stuck in your hotel room, take this captive time to experiment with all the functions and figure out when it might be useful to use them. Knowing a few simple ways to use the manual settings on your camera can make the end result so much better than defaulting to shooting in automatic mode.

Contemplating, New Jersey
Contemplating, New Jersey © Robby McKee

#7: Plan Your Future

From chats with others, I’ve learned it’s not just me who feels inspired and motivated about life in general when they’re on a trip. Use the time to make detailed plans about your future!

For example, plan out a bunch of monthly goals for the next year, write up something like a “bucket list” for the next decade or two, or simply figure out a good schedule for achieving a few important goals in the weeks after you arrive back home after your trip.

#8: Do … Nothing

If your life is remotely like mine, then your ability to take time for yourself and do nothing at all may not be very well-developed. Sometimes, though, it can be really productive and relaxing (yes, at the same time!) to simply sit and do nothing. Contemplate your navel!

There aren’t many times in life when there aren’t too many things requiring your attention but if you’re stuck in a hotel room during a trip then you don’t need to work, you don’t need to do housework, you probably don’t even need to talk to anyone (except perhaps your traveling companion!). So enjoy it and do nothing for once!

What helps you pass the time when you’re stuck in a hotel room?

  1. Great post! I couldn’t even tell you the amount of times we’ve been stuck in a hotel/hostel room because of being sick or the weather was shit. Yep, we definitely have played a lot of card games in our day, watched movies and planned onward transportation.

    However, even if the weather is bad, it’s still best to get out and spend time in a restaurant, bar, museum or somewhere else dry where you can mingle with other travellers and get out of the room!

    Cheers for the article.

    Goats On The Road

  2. I myself am stuck in a hotel right now looking for somthing to do. And i have the attention span of a box of rocks. I have been up and down the side walk, talked on the phone, leaned over 10 new hair ideas and spent an hour and a half on pinterest. I am left with 3 hours until i can lye down to go to bed. I have made a poster and some cards for my dad for fathers day and tried to learn how to fold paper in some cool ways but thats not my area… i have played with my dog for hours and i have N.O.T.H.I.N.G left do do. PLEASE HELP ME.

    1. I’m stuck in Moriarty New Mexico. My truck broke down. so while the truck is in the hospital. I am bored out of my mind. Getting dinner at the local best diner. Then later I’ll walk over to the truck stop and get some playing cards.
      I know not very helpful. But I can sympathize for both of us.

  3. I think its nice to relax in the hotel sometimes.
    I am a luxury traveller and prefer to stay in nice 5 star hotels so i like to spend at least 1 day per trip relaxin in the room and enjoying the faciltiies plus traveling and doing somethign every single day can quickly become exhausting.

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