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Vacation hotel room doesn't have A/C? Here's what to do and how to plan

Sept. 23, 2022
6 min read
sun coming through the window
Vacation hotel room doesn't have A/C? Here's what to do and how to plan
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During a sweltering season in Europe, many travelers were steamed to find their vacation rentals and boutique hotels didn't have air conditioning.

But it's not just a problem limited to European destinations — or, in many places these days, to just a few months of the year. Temperatures are still soaring in the American West as we write this. And indoor climate control could make or break your comfort on trips to many hot weather vacation destinations, such as to Mexico and the Caribbean.

There may not be much you can do to fully cool down a hotel room without air conditioning in the middle of a very hot day. However, there are some ways to at least improve your experience. Here are a few tips and tricks to think about before you depart — and once you arrive.

What to pack in case your hotel doesn't have air conditioning

Pack an insulated water bottle in case your accommodation lacks air conditioning. IMGORTHAND/GETTY IMAGES

If you anticipate your hotel or home rental may not have air conditioning, there are a few items you can pack to help you remain comfortable during your stay:

  • 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.

Related: Best travel clothing to beat the heat

What to do in a hot hotel without air conditioning

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

In addition to packing the right gear, there are a few steps you can take to keep cool in a hotel lacking air conditioning.

First, before accepting your fate on a steamy day, be sure to check to see if any other rooms at the hotel have A/C and request a room change if possible.

Also, if the hotel promised air conditioning on its website but does not actually offer it when you arrive, or if the air-conditioning unit is broken, request that they change not just your room but — if that's not available — move you to another property. This may be a situation where travel insurance can help you, but the conditions at the hotel likely would 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

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Should your room feel unbearable but not technically uninhabitable, your best course of action may be to change hotels on your own and request a refund from the original hotel (whether through your credit card issuer or from the travel agency you used). While there's no guarantee you'll get the refund, it may be worth heading elsewhere to preserve your mental and physical health.

If you do decide to stick it out in a hotel room without A/C, here are some techniques to help alleviate the effects of 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.

Related: TPG's best tips for traveling during a heat wave

Featured image by ASSALVE/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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2 - 10X points
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Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023