Living In Hotels: Day 47

I gave up my apartment just under seven weeks ago, and have been living in hotels ever since.

As I explained when I started this journey, the intent was to live in different places around the world for a couple of weeks at a time. I spent the first five weeks taking care of some things in Seattle and also spending time in Florida with my parents, but this week the “real” journey has begun.

I’m in the Middle East for a week, and it marks the first time I’m actually living abroad in a hotel since starting this journey (though I spent some time with friends in Sicily a few weeks back).

Abu Dhabi

So what have I learned so far since moving into hotels?

Living in hotels doesn’t feel different from my “normal” life so far

The most surprising part of this all to me is that I really, truly, don’t have strong feelings towards this “experiment” yet. I figured a month in I would love it or hate it. It’s not even about where I am, but just the prospect of being “homeless” and not having a sense of place.

But I haven’t once said “boy, I wish I were home,” or had feelings of that sort.

But I don’t love it either… yet

I think I will love this once I actually start living abroad in fun destinations for extended periods of time.

So far I see the pros and cons. I love having less responsibility in many ways. My bed is automatically made, I have access to a club lounge where I can have all the (usually watery and mediocre) cappuccino that my heart desires throughout the day, and fruit/yogurt in the morning and appetizers in the evening.

So that’s nice. But there are minor downsides as well. What do I miss most from my apartment?

  • Bathtub
  • Shower with great water pressure
  • My W Bed with big, cuddle-sized pillows

Yeah, that’s about it, believe it or not. Everything else I prefer in hotels so far… I think.

The key is to stay in each hotel for a longer time

I can’t stress this enough.

I would be miserable if I were “hotel hopping” and switching properties every night. That would drive me crazy. But I’ve spent at least a week everywhere I’ve been, and I think that has been the key to making this pleasant. You can actually “unpack” (ironically I’m doing more unpacking than I did when I had an apartment, where I lived out of a suitcase as well) and get into a “rhythm.”

Obstacles I was initially concerned about are easy

When I started this experiment my two biggest concerns were:

  • How much luggage should I bring? How do you strike the balance between being “mobile” and not having just a few articles of clothes on you?
  • What do I do with laundry?

And interestingly neither of these have proven to be a problem in the slightest. There are a bunch of “fluff and fold” places which are reasonably priced, and hell, make my life even easier than it was when I lived in an apartment.

I will say that I put more effort into not “wastefully” using clothes. In other words, if I’m wearing something nice I hang it up as soon as I get back to my hotel room. So perhaps I do use clothes a bit more carefully than in the past.

As far as bags go, I started my journey with this:


Then I downsized it to a carry-on and a checked bag.

And after spending the last two weeks in Florida, I’ve decided just to live out of a carry-on… for the most part.

I want to spend more time with my parents over the coming years, so I figured I’ll leave my second suitcase with them. In the event that I take a longer trip where I’m visiting just one place, then I’ll take the second suitcase.

But if I’m on a whirlwind trip like the one I’m on right now (where I’m staying nowhere for more than a few days) then it’s just not worth the effort. By leaving my second bag with my parents I’m also more likely to visit them, so I guess you could say they’re holding it as “insurance” to be sure I return soon. 😉

“Where do you live?”

If you travel frequently this is something you’re probably asked on a daily basis. And there are some people that are total douchecanoes about answering that question.

It’s like when you ask someone you don’t really know how they’re doing, and they say “oh, my cat passed away last week and my husband cheated on me… I’ve been better. ” Too much information!

Similarly, you have people that can’t just answer the question with the lightheartedness it was intended — “Well, I grew up in Mongolia, and was raised by a goat and an amur leopard, and then adopted by a French mother and South African father, and we grew up in Singapore, and I’ve been splitting my time between Sydney and New York ever since.”

And to that I can simply say…


Well, so in trying not to be difficult, I’ve decided just to say that I “live” wherever my next destination is. Which is fun sometimes. On the shuttle to the airport last week I said Abu Dhabi. The response “Ain’t that where Aladdin is from?” Maybe I should just stick to Tampa or Seattle or New York — seems easier long term…

So far this hasn’t cost me much

The question I’ve been asked most since starting this experiment is how much living in hotels has cost me. As a reminder, the reason I decided to finally give up my apartment is that I was traveling for three weeks per month and it simply didn’t make sense to pay for a car and apartment given the situation.

Even if I still had my apartment I would have gone on this trip to Abu Dhabi (I booked this long before I decided to live in hotels full time). I still would have visited my family in Florida. And I still would have visited my friends in Sicily (though I was staying with them, and not in hotels, anyway).

So really my only additional hotel expenses so far are the ~10 days I spent in a hotel in Seattle right when I started this experiment.

I’ll do more number crunching as the journey continues, but so far the marginal cost of this has been very little, if anything at all.

Life is short – make the most of it

I’ve been to Bellevue (where I previously lived) a few times since starting this journey, and it has made me sad every time.

I think we all have memories in places (good and bad) that are brought back just by virtue of passing through there. And it’s always easy to second guess yourself and say “oh this place really was beautiful, I should have stuck around,” or whatever.

But at the end of the day life is short, and instead of dwelling on memories I think it makes sense just to move forward and make new ones.

Bottom line

So far I’m happy with living in hotels.

I don’t feel nearly as depressed or ecstatic about it as I expected I would, and that’s before even really starting the journey. So I’m optimistic that I’ll actually enjoy this journey long term, and will provide more updates now that I’m abroad.

Safe travels, everyone!

Filed Under: Hotels
  1. Going to public transportation can be a big shift in thinking but also heathy and spiritually invigorating……..I am constantly humbled by the working citizens of the big cities you see on mass transit…….you don’t breathe that reality driving down the freeway…..

  2. I would think that when you go back to India it will be for a more prolonged period, like a month, staying in different cities, so you’ll need your second bag. I’ll be in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in October so if your plans coincide we could get together. Starwood lowered a number of Indian hotel classifications this year.

  3. lucky,

    Hopefully you will put forth some sort of financial reckoning as to what this is costing you, methods, points, cash, etc…

    I did this for for months in Europe, although I had a home to return to, so not sure the sense would be the same.

    Enjoy the adventure!

  4. So I gave up the place I was renting in Pebble Beach over 3 years ago, and have been motel/hotel/Airbnb hopping ever since, mostly between the DC and SFO area, but with many journeys elsewhere.

    You are correct that it is easier when you make your stays at least a week at a time. Any shorter than that, and I find myself spending too much energy on planning where I’ll be staying, to the point of exhaustion.

    My curiosity is how you’re handling the booking for those stays, how much it’s costing, and how much you’re budgeting.

    For me, it’s beginning to get old, but I’m still at it; as trying to tell folks where I live, I find it easier just to change the subject and ask about the weather…

  5. Thanks for the update, Lucky!

    Definitely +1 on the financial breakdown, if you’re willing. I’m sure a bunch of us assume it’s cost inhibitive, yet you are demonstrating that it can be achieved. Would be great to crunch the numbers and see the point proven!

    Also, are you accepting any help from your readers? I’m sure we can chip in as we live our travel dreams vicariously through your posts. If you ever stop by BOS, feel free to make use of my washer and dryer!

  6. And of course, if you ever travelling to Jakarta, Indonesia or Columbus, Ohio, feel free to contact me. I’ll take you around 🙂

  7. If you ever try out Vietnam, I really enjoyed staying at the Sheraton in Nha Trang. They have nice bath tubs! And Nha Trang was really cool. It felt like my first real holiday in 6 years. Great location. Try the Vietnamese milky coffee at Four Seasons if you ever go. For someone who likes cappuccinos and the cafe lifestyle, I recommend Saigon and Nha Trang.

    one question. What do you do for drinks and snacks? Mini Bar or as you mentioned the Club Lounges. Or do you sometimes stock up at local shops?

  8. I’ve often had the same thought, could I live out of a suitcase? I’m sure I could, I love new places and experiences and I’m really not that tied to anything I own, hell I’ve had a company car for years. There is a big difference between checking in and out of a hotel everyday, but there’s so much in thos world to see. Great post.

  9. Would be really interesting to see a simple spreadsheet that tracked how you paid for each hotel…dollars/points/BRGs etc. and what upgrades you got at each hotel. Thanks and have fun!

  10. I think what folks are missing on cost/affordability/etc is that Lucky was paying a full month’s rent + a ton of hotel to start. So replacing full rent with inrementally more hotel nights doesn’t cost him much more than he was already spending. Though someone that wasn’t already traveling as much would probably find it quite costly to stay in the sorts of accommodations that he is.

    It also depends on where you were living, and at what standard, in terms of what your base rent was. If you have $3000 in rent where you live, going all-hotel isn’t going to be that much of a step up in cost if you’re careful. If rent was $800 you’ve got a whole different challenge!

  11. I just say that I’m from South Carolina in the United States, but I quit my job two years ago to travel the world full time. That seems to satisfy almost everyone.

  12. “…you don’t breathe that reality driving down the freeway…”

    You also don’t breathe in all the Flu or Cold Virii, the urine, the Body odor of the homeless guy who makes the subway his mobile apartment, or the half bottle of cheap perfume (I don’t want to think about what it is she is trying to cover up) – Just Sayin’ 🙂

  13. Thank You Lucky for sharing your experience and adventures! I’ve fantasize about what your doing and now I could live vicariously through you!

  14. How far ahead are you planning hotels/flights/and trains? What types of bookings are you making? Award, cash/points, discounted rates (e.g., hyatt elite rates). It’s not really how much your paying – although that’s definitely interesting – but how far ahead you plan to minimize out of pocket expenses for you experiment. Also, whatever happened to kickstarter project?

  15. if you want to look ahead and see what lucky will be going through, check out the other 4 bloggers who have been doing this for far longer than him. nothing new here. it’s already been played out.

  16. The viruses and stuff are much more in a hotel even in good ones
    But he was doing almost 50-75% time there anyway

  17. Hi, Enjoyed your post. I sold my home at the height of the crisis, 2009, fortunately for full price and for much more than I owed. I decided that for my lifestyle, as a travel writer like you, living in hotels made much more sense. I’ve been living in Hiltons and IHG properties for the past four years – and on cruise ships. I run a site and I am on ships or in cruise destinations working at least 26 weeks of the year. So living the transient lifestyle, as you are doing, just makes sense. I’ve found several benefits to living in hotels:

    1) I have no debt.

    2) I have money in the bank, and a good safety net.

    3) I’ve been able to share the wealth of accumulated points and status with family. And that has been rewarding. I have a rich family life and lot of people in my circle.

    4) I also enjoy not having a place to maintain, focusing instead on the things that I truly want to do. Instead of cleaning a house, for example, I may be cleaning up my website – or taking a bike ride.

    5) I like the freedom of this life. And approaching 57, I can’t see it changing, god-willing, anytime soon.

    Best of luck to you, Ralph Grizzle

  18. Gary,

    Exactly. As a 200 night a year Hyatt guy the cost per night of being home is about the same as the hotel. It would be even cheaper if I stayed longer than 30 days and therefore got all my hotel taxes refunded.

    Speaking of taxes, given the nature of Ben’s business, his hotel stays would seem to qualify as a tax deductible business expense. But, I wonder what the tax implications would be for a domestic road warrior who decided to get rid of their permanent home and move into a hotel permanently?

  19. Good recap! Some of us readers have places with bathtubs, good water pressure and plushy beds with big pillows. Look us up if in the neighborhood! 😉

    A shout-out to Ralph (comment 20) for his great work on Avid Cruiser!

  20. Do you need business visas to legally work in the hotels of the countries that you are staying in that require visas (China and India and others come to mind)? Curious to how the rules work when it comes doing working in the countries, but not with residents of those countries.

  21. @ David — My understanding is that you wouldn’t. I mean, I think most of us have some sort of “side jobs” (whether it’s selling stuff on ebay, writing a blog, etc.), so if that were the case then I think everyone traveling would need a business visa.

  22. @ Truthiness — Truth be told I’m not planning as far ahead as I was expecting to. Right now I have about a dozen “shells” of trips booked, whereby I have flights booked to a destination but haven’t decided where I’ll actually go or for how long. For example, I booked a US Airways award to Australia for next year, and I’ll be staying there for three weeks. I haven’t gotten around to planning whether I plan on staying in Australia, or going to New Zealand, or what.

    So right now it’s kind of all over the place. As far as how I’m paying for stays goes, it’s all over the place. I try to do whatever the best value is, whether it’s a points booking, cash, etc.

  23. @ Juan — Sadly nothing in the immediate future, though hope to make it their in the Southern Hemisphere summer.

  24. @ wonkachocolat — Thanks for the tip! So far all of my stays have been at hotels that either have a club lounge, or are in destinations with drinkable tap water. On one occasion I bought a 24 pack of water. On the plus side, I think I’m drinking less soda than I used to, which is good.

    Still kind of struggle with snacks. Wish I had healthy stuff around to eat, but usually end up just eating outside of the hotel a couple of times instead.

  25. @ DRK — I’ll try to write a post about that in the future. For me it’s quite economical by comparison because I’m no longer paying rent, no longer making a car payment, and no longer paying for car insurance. That really adds up, especially when I was traveling roughly three weeks per month previously.

  26. Ben,

    Try Urthbox for healthy snacks. You can get a box delivered each month, and when you’re back in town, pick them up to take with you on your trips. I don’t have any connection to them, but I recently got a trial subscription with them, and the snacks are really good.

  27. Lucky won’t do a financial breakdown post because it would be quite boring:

    1) Step 1: stay at hotels all around the world.

    2) Step 2: have mom pay credit card bill.

    3) Step 3: all done.

  28. Less time Lucky has to worry about maintaining his apartment, more time he has to find animated GIFs! I approve 😀

  29. I’ve been doing this since November (along with Airbnb here and there) and I like to think of this as “just-in-time dwelling” named after the “just-in-time” production strategy.

    It just didn’t make sense for me to be paying rent in Miami Beach and traveling even 10 days out of the month and also be paying for hotels. (I don’t know how ThePointsGuy does it!)

  30. Lucky: when asked where you live, just say you’re “from Tampa,” since that’s where your family is. That will obliquely sidestep the question entirely. If they press, you can say “but you travel often.” Should work fine.

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