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What Happens to Items Left Behind in Hotels?

When you forget something in a hotel room, what happens to it? We answer this question plus others on coronavirus, Japan, packing, and more in this month’s edition of our travel advice column, Check Your Baggage.

Q.“I left my phone charger plugged into my hotel room in Paris and didn’t realize until I returned home. It’s not worth the expense for me to have it returned, but I’m curious—what happens to things that are left behind in hotels? Do they get thrown away?” – DC

A. Think of your phone charger as a gift to the next hapless traveler who forgot their own. Most hotels will keep a box of lost chargers, converters, and adapters at the front desk to loan out to travelers in need.

Policies vary by hotel—as a Hilton spokesperson told me: “Each property has an individualized approach on how they support our guests’ unique needs including managing when items are left in one of our hotel rooms during their stay. If a guest discovers they’ve left an item behind, we recommend they contact the hotel directly as soon as possible to best enable our Team Members to try and assist. Some properties have extended lost and founds—we also have dedicated customer care support lines to help assist 24/7, but most properties will keep lost items for a certain amount of time before donating any unclaimed items.”

If you do want that item back, give the front desk a call to see if they have it—the hotel may ship it to you for free, or charge you for the cost of shipping and handling.

Just don’t wait for the hotel to call you about your lost item—here’s why they may be reluctant to reach out.

Q. “Between coronavirus and the flu, I’m getting nervous about my upcoming trip (even though it’s just a domestic flight). How can I avoid catching something while flying?” – BD

A. You’ve already gotten your flu shot, right? That’s the best (and most obvious) way to protect yourself from the flu, but it’s not 100 percent effective. There isn’t a vaccine for the coronavirus, but the CDC recommends you do the following to prevent respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands (the correct way) after using the restroom and before eating.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. (This one is tough to do on a plane. However, you can use the air vent to help blow away any airborne microbes.)

Q. “I like to work out whenever I travel, but I struggle with packing running shoes since they take up so much space. (And I refuse to wear them on the plane, because I want to look nice, even in the airport.) Any advice?” – CS

A. Start with a lightweight shoe to make packing easier. I like to shop on Zappos because it allows you to filter by shoe weight, so you can look for one that weighs between one and five ounces, for example. Although bright colors are trendy right now, I invest in running shoes that are a neutral color like black or white, so that they will go with more things in my travel wardrobe in case I need them to pull double duty.

For packing, stash your shoes in a washable shoe bag that will keep your dirty sneakers from contaminating the rest of your clothes. Use the space inside your shoes to pack small items like socks or underwear, which will help minimize the footprint your shoes take up inside your suitcase.

Q. “Every time I open Instagram, someone else I know is going to Japan. Am I imagining things or has Japan exploded as a tourist destination recently?” – JT

A. You’re not making it up—Japan is on the rise as a tourist destination. According to Japan Rail Pass (a booking site for Japanese rail travel), 2019 was a record-breaking year for tourism in the country, with over 32.5 million foreign visitors. Prepare yourself to see even more shots of ramen shops on your feed in 2020, as Tokyo will be hosting the Olympics, and the country is bracing for an estimated 40 million visitors for the year.

Q. “My friends and I are looking to take a vacation with our (young) kids, but are having trouble finding a vacation rental that’s safe for children. Is there a filter or something I’m missing?” – MM

A. Check out, a vacation rental search engine that only features child-friendly properties. It even offers baby equipment rentals and itinerary help if you need it.

Q. “I’m planning a trip to Ireland that involves renting a car. Do I need an international driver’s license?” – PH

A. As long as your trip to Ireland is less than a year long, you don’t need to get an international driver’s license—your U.S. one will work. To decide if you need to get the international driver’s license, check the U.S. State Department or embassy website for the country that you’re visiting. Here’s the page for Ireland.

Q. “My friends live in Syracuse and I live in D.C., and we want to meet up somewhere halfway for a reunion. Any suggestions for a good spot?” – JM

A. Check out the website, which will calculate a meeting spot that’s exactly halfway between you and your friend. The suggested town (in this case, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania) might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it will give you a good starting point to start your search. In your case, I’d recommend New York City as the closest midway meeting spot with plenty to keep you busy.

Traveling? Consider These Carry-On Options

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

Got a burning travel question you want to see answered in next month’s column? Do you vehemently disagree with my answers to this month’s questions? Comment below or send me an e-mail at with the subject line: Check Your Baggage.

Editor’s note: Submitted questions have been edited for clarity and length.

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