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6 tips for living well in a hotel: business travel

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Whether you’re on the other side of your own country, or the world, the novelty of spending night after night in a hotel can wear off relatively quickly. After three years of working in China, where I stay for up to month at a time about 4 times a year, here are my tips for surviving, and even thriving, in hotels.

Always go to breakfast
You’re away for work, you need to be on good form and make the most of your time there. Give yourself 10 minutes extra on your first morning, hunt down the place they have breakfast and make it part of your daily routine. 
If you’re in a super foreign country, still go! I skipped breakfast my first visits to China - mainly because I didn't leave enough time, thought the food would be weird and that I couldn’t speak to the staff. It always made for a bad day at the factory. Don’t listen to your fears: breakfast at 2-4 star hotels tends to be some kind of buffet so you can choose anyway. It’s in the price and it's the best way to start your day, so don’t skip the meal. 
Take good ear plugs
I know some people can go without but, for me, sleep is vital. In China, most hotels have their own karaoke floor (KTV) which has a habit of being audible throughout the hotel. Not a problem for me. I get my ear plugs in, eye mask on and do by best to get as much sleep as possible. After a week or so, I find I’m accustomed to the noises and don’t need my sleeping aids anymore. But those first few nights are crucial to feeling comfortable there.
Get to know the area
If I’m jet lagged flying from west to east (Europe to China), and I arrive in the morning, I need something to keep me from immediately falling on to my bed and fast asleep. Whilst this industrial town in southern China isn’t Paris, it has its own uniquely interesting corners and ways of doing things. To keep me awake, I put my luggage in my room, grab a bottle of water and go for a stroll. It lets me know where I am, gets me used to bright sunlight even though it’s midnight on my body clock and passes the time until it’s more reasonable to sleep.
Being in a hot country, on my first walk around I’ll always go and grab a 5 litre bottle of water. It means I’m never in the position of being dehydrated and only relying on a free litre from the hotel. 
Find a local super market
I tend to stay in my hotel for 2 or 3 weeks at time. In China the hotels are great: they give me two 500ml bottles of water, they include breakfast, lunch and I get fruit brought to my room in the evening. If we’re working at the factory, my production manager and I will have lunch and dinner out together. But on days that we’re not meeting up, I opt for having a little more at breakfast and then go to the local super market and pick up a few extra things for the evening - the season’s fruit or some light snacks.
Aim to stay healthy
It’s so easy to eat out for every meal, drink a lot of alcohol and pile on the pounds when staying away from home. Aiming to stay healthy is supported by all the above zips: have breakfast, find a supermarket and drink plenty of water. If you’re in a totally different time zone, drinking water is the best way to get over jet lag and to encourage your bowels to shift to the new time zone / eating pattern too. What's going on inside is super important.
Whilst it gets a little lonely staying on your own for long periods, being on your own has upsides too. As an urban population, we often complain of not having enough time to ourselves. So remember to savour it. Your hotel room is a good place to read, write, just ponder the world around you or even get a little exercise in. Even if it’s a few sit ups every morning, a plank in the evening or a jog around the area, it will make the difference if you're away a lot. 
I often find it’s easier to stay healthy when you're staying in one place, i.e. your hotel, for a longer period than if you’re travelling a lot and only staying for a night or too. I have not found the answer to staying healthy when you’re flying/on the road for business. Let me know if you've found a good way of managing it.
Make your own personal touches 
You’ve got to feel comfortable staying in a hotel for a week of longer. Everyone has their own ways to feel at home. I take a few bags of my favourite tea from home. I also cover up the myriad sources of neon light - on the TV, the computer, wifi router and the fridge - with masking tape when I arrive. It's my thing! But it helps to get me settled. I remember visiting a friend who was staying in an Airbnb for 3 weeks on tour. He brought his own coffee grinder with him. 
You can’t recreate your home, but you can make your stay enjoyable. Thankfully work takes up most of the time. But with a little planning, I’ve come to love returning to this hotel. It's called Xunfa hotel in Hui'an, Fujian, China. It's the cheapest hotel in town, has great beds, great wifi and super kind staff.




Sarah Giblin is a one-person startup and designer behind secure travel backpack RiutBag. The safe laptop backpack is built for peace of mind in city and international travel. It has no zips accessible to anyone else; they are all against your back. Find out more about this design at
Join the rest of the RiutBag users and share your location on Instagram and Twitter with hashtag #livingoutofariutbag whether you're away on business or for pleasure.