Boutique hotels didn't have air conditioning and vacation rentals didn't have it during the hot season in Europe.
It's not limited to European destinations or just a few months of the year. In the American West, temperatures are still high. If you're going to Mexico or the Caribbean for a hot weather vacation, you might want to consider indoor climate control.
If you don't have air conditioning in your hotel room, you won't be able to fully cool it down. There are some things you can do to make your experience better. There are a few things to think about before you leave and when you arrive.
What to pack in case your hotel doesn't have air conditioning
Refillable water bottle: This will keep your cold drinks cold. Popular brands to consider include the Yeti Rambler and Hydro Flask.
Portable travel fan: Keep the air flowing in your room with a Treva 10-inch portable fan. It's foldable and fairly strong. The EasyAcc desk fan is smaller and more portable, but you'll have to keep it pretty close to your face if you want to cool off. You can pack a portable fan in your carry-on as long as it doesn't exceed your airline's carry-on size limits.
Cooling travel pillow: It's hard to sleep if you're sweating. The ComfEz memory foam pillow comes with a soft wicking, bamboo-fiber cover to keep your head cool.
Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes: They're essential for comfort in hot, stuffy hotel rooms. ExOfficio has a tried-and-true collection of dry-fit clothes, from men's and women's underwear to its popular line of Give-n-go T-shirts.
After-sun cooling spray: This is a must if you plan on being in the sun during the day. Sun Bum is good for sensitive skin. Aloe vera gel can provide deep, lasting cooling and healing.
Travel sheet: Coolmax's moisture-wicking fibers make it an ideal lightweight sleep cover for a comfortable night in a hot hotel room.
The best travel clothes to beat the heat.
What to do in a hot hotel without air conditioning
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself cool in a hotel without air conditioning.
Before you accept your fate on a hot day, be sure to check to see if any other rooms at the hotel have A/C and request a room change.
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If the hotel doesn't offer air conditioning when you arrive, or if the air-conditioning unit is broken, then you should move to another property. It's possible that travel insurance can help you in this situation, but the hotel's conditions would have to be unsuitable for the insurance to reimburse you.
There are 7 things to look out for when buying travel insurance.
If your room feels unbearable but not technically uninhabitable, your best course of action is to change hotels on your own and request a refund from the original hotel. It's not certain if you'll get the refund, but it may be worthwhile to go somewhere else to keep your mental and physical health.
If you decide to stick it out in a hotel room without A/C, there are some techniques you can use to deal with the heat.
Take a cold shower: This will quickly drop your body temperature and keep you feeling fresh. You can also soak a washcloth in cold water and put it on your forehead or on 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: Do not do what a friend of mine did and place a frozen fish on your forehead in place of a washcloth. If you fall asleep with it on your forehead, as she did while staying in a hot hostel room with no screens on the windows, it will not be a pleasant awakening.)
Keep hydrated: Drink plenty of water — with ice, if possible. It won't cool down the room, but it'll keep you from getting dehydrated and possibly sick.
Open the windows: Take advantage of airflow by opening windows on multiple sides of the room (and even the door if you feel comfortable doing so). You may also sleep with the window open, using a white noise app on your phone to drown out street sounds. However, be aware of potential safety concerns if your window is accessible to the public on the street or on an easily accessible balcony or fire escape. You likely won't sleep well if you're worried about potential intruders.
Pull down the blinds when you leave the room: This can prevent the sun from elevating the temperature. You may also leave the window partially open, but, again, should only do so if you're securely on a high floor or if the window has a locking mechanism. This will enable a little airflow into the room while still blocking the hot sun.
Ask the front desk for an electric fan: Given how many hotels offer 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's staff doesn't have one and you're desperate, just purchase one. It's a small investment that may immensely improve your quality of life during your stay. Pay it forward and leave the fan for the next guest.