When you’re traveling, you may not have a lot of control over your flight times. You may need the flight that’s logistically easiest for you to take, or perhaps you’re traveling overseas, and the only options are red-eye flights. This will put you in your destination often in the very early morning.
At the same time, many hotels and even Airbnbs have later check-in times—usually between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Most of us dread arriving somewhere and not being able to check-in. You have to figure out how to store your luggage, and you may have to wait to shower and freshen up.
The following are some tips if you get to a travel destination before your check-in time, as well as some things you can do ahead of time to avoid this scenario.
Is Early Check-In An Option?
First, you might call your hotel either before you travel or even once you arrive and ask them if early check-in is an option. In the era of online reviews, hotels are often more willing to be flexible than you might think.
Calling ahead as soon as you land, or perhaps even before your day of travel, can give the hotel the time they need to help facilitate your request.
If you’re a member of the hotel’s loyalty program, such as the Marriott Bonvoy program, you might be more likely to score a coveted early check-in.
Another option is to ask if you can book an additional night at the hotel at a discounted price since you won’t be arriving until the next morning.
This can also be an option with some Airbnb hosts, who are often happy to meet you earlier, as long as the space is available and you’re willing to pay.
There are some hotels that are starting to let you check in whenever you want.
For example, Standard Hotels, which are in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles recently announced they would let guests check-in and out when they choose for a small additional fee.
All you do is add your estimated check-in and check-out times when you book your room, and then you pay based on a percentage of the booked room rate.
Store Your Luggage
Another option you have is storing your luggage.
Some companies will facilitate secure luggage storage, so while you might not get a shower it does give you time to get out and about in your destination.
For example, maybe you have a meeting early on so you can store your luggage, handle the meeting and then head back to the hotel after.
Luggage storage companies are often available in places like train stations and stand-alone facilities. You might also be able to book this service ahead of time.
Accept a Downgrade or Ask for an Upgrade
Sometimes your particular type of room may not be available for early check-in, but perhaps a room that’s either a downgrade or upgrade might be available. You’ll have to sweet-talk your way into an upgrade, but again if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program this can be a bit easier.
Stay At the Airport
This is perhaps the least favorable option, but an option nonetheless—if you have access to an airport lounge, stay there a little longer after you land so you can at least grab a shower.
Many airport lounges have shower facilities, as well as other comforts you can use. This can be particularly useful if you have something like a meeting or somewhere you need to be, and you can’t stand the thought of not cleaning up a bit first.
You can also grab a free meal or at least a snack in many airport lounges.
Not necessarily ideal, but it is a cost-effective option if you don’t want to pay more for early check-in.
Finally, if you feel like you have no other options, you can book a spa service at the hotel itself. Maybe you can even talk your way into a deal or discount. You can then store your luggage with the hotel desk—although be careful about valuables.
Then, head the spa, and you may even be able to get a shower as you kill time.
Getting to your destination before your check-in time isn’t the end of the world. If you can’t get an earlier check-in, you still have convenient options available.