The vacation hotel room has no air conditioning? Here’s what to do and how to plan

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During a sweltering season at Europemany travelers have been steamed to find their Holiday rents and charming hotels had no air conditioning.

But it’s not just a problem limited to European destinations – or, in many places these days, a few months of the year. Temperatures are still soaring across the American West as we write this. And interior temperature control can make or break your comfort when traveling to many hot-weather vacation destinations, such as Mexico and the Caribbean.

There may not be much you can do to completely cool a hotel room without air conditioning in the middle of a very hot day. However, there are ways to at least improve your experience. Here are some tips and tricks to think about before you go ā€” and once you get there.

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What to pack if your hotel doesn’t have air conditioning

Bring an insulated bottle of water in case your accommodation lacks air conditioning. IMGORTHAND/GETTY IMAGES If you anticipate that your hotel or rental home will not have air conditioning, you can pack a few items to help keep you comfortable during your stay:
  • Refillable water bottle: This will keep your cold drinks cool. Popular brands to consider include the Yeti Rambler and Hydro Flask.
  • Portable Travel Fan: Circulate the air in your room with a Treva 10 inch portable fan. It is foldable and quite sturdy. The EasyAcc The desk fan is smaller and more portable, but you’ll need to keep it fairly close to your face if you want to cool down. You can take a portable ventilator in your carry-on as long as it does not exceed your airline’s carry-on size limits.
  • Cooling Travel Pillow: It’s hard to sleep if you sweat. The Comfort The memory foam pillow comes with a soft and absorbent bamboo fiber cover to keep your head cool.
  • Lightweight clothing that wicks away moisture: They are essential for comfort in hot and stuffy hotel rooms. ExOfficio offers a time-tested collection of dry fit clothing, from men’s and women’s underwear to its popular line of Gift T-shirts.
  • Refreshing after-sun spray: It is a must if you plan to be in the sun during the day. Sunburn is good for sensitive skin. aloe vera the gel can provide deep and long-lasting cooling and healing.
  • Travel Sheet: coolmaxMoisture-wicking fibers make this a lightweight sleep cover ideal for a comfortable night in a warm hotel room.

Related: The best travel clothes to beat the heat

What to do in a hot hotel without air conditioning

Curtains blowing in the wind in a seaside hotel room. THOMAS BARWICK/GETTY IMAGES

In addition to packing the right gear, there are a few steps you can take to stay cool in a hotel without air conditioning.

First, before accepting your fate on a hot day, be sure to check if other rooms in the hotel have air conditioning and request a room change if possible.

Also, if the hotel promised air conditioning on their website but doesn’t actually offer it when you arrive, or if the air conditioning unit is broken, ask that they not only change your room but – if it is not available – you are moving to another property. It may be a situation where travel insurance can help, but the conditions at the hotel would probably have to be “uninhabitable” for the insurance to reimburse you.

Related: 7 things to look out for when buying travel insurance, according to an expert

If your room seems unbearable but not technically uninhabitable, your best solution may be to change hotels on your own and request a refund from the original hotel (whether through the issuer of your credit card or the travel agency you used). While there’s no guarantee you’ll get the money back, it may be worth going elsewhere to safeguard your mental and physical health.

If you decide to stay in a hotel room without air conditioning, here are some techniques to help lessen the effects of the heat.

  • Take a cold shower: This will drop your body temperature quickly and keep you cool. You can also soak a washcloth in cold water and put it on your forehead or the back of your neck. If your hotel has an ice machine, add a few buckets to the shower or tub to cool your feet. (Note: don’t do what a friend of mine did and place a frozen fish on your forehead instead of a washcloth. If you fall asleep with the fish on your forehead like she did staying in a hot hostel room with no screens in the windows won’t be a pleasant wake up call.)
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water – with ice, if possible. It won’t cool the room, but it will keep you from becoming dehydrated and sick.
  • Open the window: Take advantage of the airflow by opening windows on multiple sides of the room (and even the door if you feel comfortable doing so). You can also sleep with the window open, using a white noise app on your phone to drown out street noise. However, be aware of potential safety issues if your window is publicly accessible from the street or an easily accessible balcony or fire escape. You probably won’t sleep well if you’re worried about potential intruders.
  • Lower the blinds when you leave the room: This can prevent the sun from raising the temperature. You can also leave the window partially open, but, again, only do this if you are safe on a high floor or if the window has a locking mechanism. This will allow a little airflow into the room while blocking the scorching sun.
  • Ask at reception for an electric fan: With so many hotels offering loaner items like umbrellas and hair straighteners to guests, it can never hurt to ask if an electric fan is available to borrow. If the hotel staff doesn’t have one and you’re desperate, buy one. It’s a small investment that can greatly improve your quality of life during your stay. Pay in advance and leave the fan for the next guest.

Related: TPG’s top tips for traveling during heat waves

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