Technology has streamlined and improved many of the old conventions of traveling. These days, you don’t even have to carry around a printed boarding pass—and you certainly don’t have to safeguard your money on the road with traveler’s cheques. But there’s one longstanding travel protocol that you should keep doing even though you don’t technically have to. Read on to find out what you should never leave a hotel without doing, according to the experts.
These days, hotels make the checkout process easy. You can just toss or recycle your electronic room key cards, and then just walk right out of the hotel without ever formally undertaking a checkout process. But Brandon Berkson, hotel expert and founder of the curated boutique lodging guide Hotels Above Par, says you should always go through the process of checking out, whether digitally or in person at the desk.
Since you’ve provided your credit card information at or before check-in, you can technically just walk out and the hotel will push all the final charges through to your credit card. But that’s the problem, Berkson warns: If you don’t check out, you won’t know what those charges are in advance—and you won’t have a chance to dispute them if something looks wrong.
When you check out of a hotel, you get a chance to review the charges individually and make sure that everything looks accurate. “Checking out is important,” notes Berkson. “There have been a few times where I was charged the wrong amount—shoutout to the minbar sensors wrongly detecting that I took something.”
It’s also a chance to negotiate the bill under certain circumstances. Say you didn’t feel the room was as advertised, or the service fell well below any reasonable expectations. Checking out is your chance to ask if they’ll make it right by giving you a price break, or tossing in a freebie.
Another pro tip: Checking out of an international hotel allows you to ask for the bill in local currency, which is likely to be a much better deal for you in the end than a foreign bill issued in U.S. dollars due to conversion rates.
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Aside from dollars and cents, checking out of a hotel is just the courteous thing to do, especially at a time when staffing shortages are causing huge disruptions across a heavily impacted travel and hospitality industry. “This is the way housekeeping knows your room is clear for the next guest, something especially relevant during the pandemic when staff need to harness in on further disinfecting surfaces, laundry, and restocking necessities,” Berkson says.