What to Do If You Arrive Too Early to Check In

Let’s say you’re planning an exciting trip to New York and find an incredible discount on your flight. The only problem? He arrives at 5:00 am and it is too early to check in at most hotels. However, you don’t need to doze at the gate – you have options.

Book your hotel with early check-in

The easiest way to deal with a settlement problem is to fix it first. Some hotels adhere strictly to their rules, but others will work with you depending on when you arrive. If you are planning to arrive just a couple of hours early, many hotels will help you. And the sooner you let them know, the easier it is for them to make room for your request.

Others have an “early check-in” policy. You will pay extra, but this is usually better than just booking an extra day. As USA Today notes, some hotels may only charge half the standard daily rate for these rooms. As You Stay is a free app that will also help you find out these rates. You enter your travel dates and times and the app finds hotels based on your availability .

However, if early registration is not a solution, you may have to find a way to kill time. While you do that, you probably want to ditch your bags. If your hotel won’t let you check in early, chances are they will at least keep your bags for you. If you’re killing time at the airport, some airports have lockers to keep your belongings, as do many tourist destinations.

Buy a day pass to the airport lounge

Airports offer many amenities these days, so you don’t have to kill time to spend hours in Cinnabon.

Depending on the airport, you can book a day pass at the airport lounge. The travel site View From the Wing says the rules vary quite a bit, but if you have a membership, chances are the lounge will grant you access even if you arrive rather than leave. If you do not have a membership, use a site such as the Lounge Pass to find out the cost and availability of day passes at different airports around the world. Airfare Watchdog also has a list of lounges at popular airports.

Rates typically range from $ 25 to $ 50, and free services typically include TV, Wi-Fi, charging stations, food and drink. For example, JFK’s Airspace Lounge costs $ 25 a day and includes not only free snacks, coffee, and Wi-Fi, but access to their showers. Other rooms may have beds and spas, which you can book for a small surcharge. No, fifty dollars isn’t cheap, but it’s probably cheaper than booking an extra day for a hotel room you don’t intend to use.

If you can’t laze around, you can at least see what else the airport has to offer . Apps like TravelNerd (Internet / iOS, free) and GateGuru (Android / iOS / WP7, free) will tell you which restaurants, bars and other amenities you need to choose depending on the airport.

Hang in a business center or gym

If you have a job , you might consider just taking a walk in your hotel’s business center if they have one. Basically, it’s a room with desks, printers, and workspaces, which might not be the most exciting if you’re planning a relaxing, stress-free vacation. On the other hand, if you have time to kill anyway, this might be the perfect time to get things done so you can fully enjoy the ride. Plus, you don’t have to work. You can follow the news or watch materials on the Internet.

Most hotels also have gyms or swimming pools. You might not want to hang out at the gym all day, but if you have a couple of hours before check-in, you might as well work out. This helps you know ahead of time what your hotel has to offer, or even choose a hotel based on those amenities. If you know you have red eyes and the hotel won’t budge after early check-in, at least look for one that has a decent gym or business center where you can hang out. Bonus: Business hotels are often cheaper.

Treat it like a stop

Of course, many of your time-wasting options will only depend on the destination. Transfer guides can come in handy here. These guides offer quick options if you are pressed for time. So if you want to make the most of a few hours of your time and are ready to explore, The Points Guy travel site has some helpful guides for connecting to popular airports:

And Airfare Watchdog has its own transfer guide for the 20 busiest airports in the world. Again, many airports have luggage storage facilities so you don’t have to lug around a bunch of bags, but if you’re leaving the airport this might not be the best option. However, some cities have luggage storage facilities at or near metro stations. For example, the lockers at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. In New York, Schwartz Travel offers storage facilities close to Grand Central and Penn Station. I was also lucky enough to ask hotels to keep my luggage even when I’m not a guest. On a recent stop in Boston, I headed to Quincy Market for the day and, on the advice of a local, asked the nearest Marriott hotel to store my luggage. They were obligated, and best of all, it was free (no tip).

When you have a few hours to kill, you get the impression that you are wasting precious vacation time. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. All you need is to plan your trip a little to get the most out of it.

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