Avoid This Surprisingly Common Hotel Mistake Even Frequent Travelers Make

If you consider yourself a no-frills traveler, you probably never call for hotel room service or dare even touch the drinks stocked in the minibar. As a result, when it comes time to leave the hotel and head home, you know your bill has already been paid, and there should be no additional charges to settle with the front desk. However, this doesn't mean you should skip the check-out counter altogether. 

As Dani Quesnel, a former hotel chain employee, revealed to Business Insider, guests should always visit reception before departure. This informs the staff that you've vacated the room and gives the go-ahead for hotel housekeepers to start tidying up. Check-out is also the perfect time to return your room key and report any issues you encountered during your stay. If you didn't run into problems and your accommodation offers an easy check-out option (such as a box to return your card key), feel free to use this provided alternative instead.

What happens if you skip check-out?

If your hotel doesn't explicitly offer a no-contact check-out procedure, assume you should talk to an employee before leaving. Failing to inform staff of your departure before checking out may result in fees for overstaying. Completing check-out is also important to ensure no mistakes are on your bill. You wouldn't want to be wrongly charged for a phone call you never made or a drink you never ordered. Squaring everything away before leaving prevents this from happening.

Worst of all, you could get caught in legal trouble by failing to check out of a hotel properly. TikToker @raimeetravel learned this the hard way in Japan — proving true our list of things tourists should never do when visiting Japan. In a clip, the content creator explained that she was used to skipping check-out in many other countries she visited. After a stay at a Japanese inn, she received an alarming message from the property threatening to contact the police. The message explained that the hotel couldn't make any charges to the Tiktoker's credit card without her approval, which had to be given in person during check-out. Raimee had to spend a day at a local bank arranging a money transfer to the hotel to avoid getting into trouble.

When leaving, choose your timing wisely

While not checking out is one of the biggest blunders you can make at the end of your stay, there are other mistakes to avoid when checking out of a hotel. Of course, you'll want to stick to the designated check-out time to avoid landing in hot water, but you probably shouldn't rush to the front desk at the last minute, especially if you have travel plans that day.

Let's say your hotel requires you to check out by 10 a.m. While you might want to take your time at the breakfast buffet and leisurely pack your luggage, it's best to head to the lobby long before 10 a.m. to beat the crowds. This can be especially crucial if you're located on a top floor. In some accommodations, elevators can take several minutes to reach your floor, particularly if dozens of other guests use them during the check-out rush.

Alternatively, you could get your hotel to say yes to a late check-out instead. If you don't have an early flight to catch, extending your stay by a couple of hours can help you avoid long check-out lines. This is a perk often given for free to guests with elite status at the hotel (such as through a credit card or loyalty program), though you may be able to take advantage of it for a fee or by asking politely in advance.