My One Year Anniversary Of Living In Hotels Full Time

April 14, 2014.

That’s the day I became “voluntarily homeless,” and decided to move into hotels full time. When I first started this crazy experiment I said I’d try it for a year and then reevaluate.

Well, it has now been a year, and I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

The past year has been incredible. Partly thanks to living in hotels full time, and partly due to life in general just being good.

Now that I’ve lived in hotels for a full year, I figured I’d reflect on how this happened to begin with, how the experience has been so far, and what’s next.

Why I moved into hotels to begin with

Prior to moving into hotels full time I lived in Seattle. Only I was traveling about three weeks per month, and once I crunched the numbers I figured it no longer made sense to pay a month worth of rent, car payment, car insurance, etc., given that I was only home for a bit over a week per month.

Beyond that, while I loved living on the West Coast for the first time in my life (and in particular the Pacific Northwest), I was at a stage in my life where I felt like I had to leave Seattle, yet I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. So at that point I came up with the idea of moving into hotels full time, figuring it wouldn’t be that different from my situation at the time.

Seattle-3

My life hasn’t changed radically

When I first moved into hotels full time I figured I’d either love it or hate it. The truth is my emotions towards living in hotels are somewhere in the middle. It has its pluses and minuses. Spending an extra week per month in a hotel doesn’t really change things that much for me.

For what it’s worth, I don’t actually feel like I live in hotels full time, and don’t feel like I lack a sense of place more so than before. This all just feels like one long trip, for better or worse.

Living in hotels: the good

Material possessions don’t matter

For one, living in hotels has taught me a great deal about simplicity and material things. People can’t seem to wrap their head around the fact that I live out of a carry-on. I remember when I moved out of my apartment in Seattle I had so much crap I had to get rid of, which amazingly I had amassed over the course of 18 months or so.

Moving-Luggage

And now my approach is kind of the opposite. I’d rather spend money on experiences than on material possessions, because they bring much more happiness.

What is home, really?

Another awesome thing about living in hotels is that it has allowed me to better connect with friends. Previously I was traveling about three weeks per months and when I wasn’t traveling I found myself going to my apartment in Seattle because I had to justify having it somehow.

Even though it was physically home it didn’t feel like home.

Now when I have time off I can visit my parents, my brother, and my friends. So while on one hand I don’t have a physical home, emotionally I feel like I have more of a home than ever before.

The people in the hospitality industry are amazing

There are two things I feel extremely passionately about in life (and while I don’t always practice what I preach, I do try):

  • Treat other people the way you want to be treated
  • Do everything you can to make people laugh/smile

I’ve met some amazing people over the past year from living in hotels. What I love about both the airline and hotel industries is that for the most part they’re filled with the passionate people out there.

While it might sound silly, I’ve made some great friends over the past year just from visiting certain hotels often. The connections you can make are amazing at times just be being sincere and trying to engage people in conversations.

Living in hotels: the bad

Things you otherwise take for granted

Laundry, easy access to fresh fruit and water, consistently fast wifi, etc.

Laundromat
These are becoming a familiar site

These are all things that sound insignificant individually, but they really can make a difference when hotel living becomes your life. It probably sounds silly, but it’s the simple things that I miss the most living in hotels.

That being said, these are all minor obstacles in the grand scheme of things.

Hyatt-Cookies
Unlimited access to these is dangerous (but tasty)

Health

As almost any traveler can relate to, it’s tough to exercise and eat healthy when on the road. This is a combination of so many factors, from jetlag, to lack of access to healthy snacks, to overly-indulgent buffets on a daily basis.

It was bad at first, though I think I’ve finally found a better balance than before. For one, I’ve been going to the gym regularly, which I think is easy enough once you build a routine (which can be tough to do when you fly several times a week).

But even more importantly, I’ve finally been able to say no (at least somewhat) to the never ending supply of tasty food I seem to get when traveling. Between sweet welcome amenities and hotel buffets with amazing pastries, it can be tough to resist.

St-Regis-Buffet
Mmmmm….

But I’ve finally been able to realize that “maximizing” an experience is very different than eating/drinking/trying everything you’re given.

Now what?

When I started this I thought of it as a one year experiment. The year is up, so now what?

Well, nothing will be changing on my end. I’ve loved my year of living in hotels, and don’t plan to change my lifestyle anytime soon.

Let me be clear about, though – this isn’t the “end game” for me. I don’t want to be living in hotels in 30 years. Ultimately I’d love to settle down, be in a relationship, get a dog, etc.

But I’m also risk averse, and I don’t know where I’d actually want to move. So for the time being I couldn’t be happier continuing to call the world home.

My major goal in the coming year is to actually spend more time on the ground at exciting destinations. That was my goal when I first started this, but the truth is that it has been a whirlwind year, and I’ve had a lot of commitments which have prevented me from being outside the US for extended periods of time. But I’ll make every effort to do better at that this year.

I owe it all to you guys!

I certainly don’t say it enough, but I can’t properly express how appreciative I am of how supportive you guys are.

A lot of people say I don’t have a “real job.” And that’s probably true, if a “real job” is defined as doing something you don’t enjoy for 40 hours per week. Instead I get to do what I’m truly passionate about for way more than 40 hours per week.

And the fact that I get to do that – and make a living doing so – is all thanks to you guys. Seriously, thanks so much for all the support over the years, for reading, and for interacting.

Truth be told, I don’t know what I’d do with my life without this amazing opportunity.

Comments

  1. How time flies!! ‘All the people on the planet, they are working 9 to 5, just to stay alive’ – Diva

  2. Wow can’t believe it has already been a year. Time has flown by! Curious what your total tally for hotel nights and points was in the last year of living in hotels?

  3. Good for you, Ben. Enjoy while you are still young. Image the tales you will regale your fellow oldsters with decades from now. I have a feeling that most young men your age would love to be in your position.

  4. Would you mind sharing how you handle being “domiciled” vis-a-vis banks, the government (e.g. for income taxes, jury summons), etc.? Do you have a WA driver license registered to your storage unit, or did you “move” back in with the folks in FL, or…?

    My friend recently had her PayPal account locked and had to provide a utility statement tying to the address of her bank account. Literally the ONLY document she had to fulfill that was her rental lease agreement. I could see that being a big potential problem in your situation.

  5. So what address do you use for things like credit card accounts, tax returns, heath insurance, etc?

  6. I think what you are doing is pretty cool and unconventional. I’ve been reading about your experiences and you are living a very interesting lifestyle. I’m in the process of selling my house right now, quitting my job and planning extended travel with no fixed place to live. I’m at a point where I would rather put my money towards experiences as opposed to all the stuff that goes into filling a home. I don’t know that I could last a year but it sure sounds fun!

  7. I have a saying: “Everyone should have to move every two years.” Something I learned in my 20s. In even 2 years, people accumulate so much junk that they need to force themselves to take the time to dump it.

    I think losing weight is far easier living in hotels. Sure, the free breakfasts can be a killer if you don’t watch yourself. OTOH, no cupboards to get snacks from, and I have no problem forcing myself to stay in my room and make oatmeal with the coffee machine. Plus, an elliptical machine is right down stairs. No driving required.

    Still, I can’t imagine living in hotels full time. After 10-20, even I get sick of it.

  8. Good for you, Ben! You made it work for you and that’s awesome. I’m excited to read what’s next in your adventures on the ground or in the air.

  9. Happy anniversary! I recall a year ago you thought of living in India for a few weeks since hotel costs there is quite reasonable for a western traveler — yet I don’t even think you went to India! 😉 I hope you go there with your mom at some point in the future.

  10. Congratulations on your 1-year anniversary. But since you travel this much, have you ever been worried that you won’t be able to feel any excitement one day when you travel?

  11. wow, it passes so quickly!

    there should be a recap of hotel points spent/earned during that year. 😉

  12. Would be nice to have a full list of all hotels you stayed and cross reference to loyalty programs. I don’t think I could ever do this since you basically live out of a suitcase as well as you don’t seem to really spend time enjoying the local culture (you are in an out pretty quick). One thing that I hate about hotels (no matter how luxurious they are) is that no matter how clean the place looks like it is never the case. As an assumed germophobic how could you sleep 365 days in different pillows that were used by other people? 🙂

  13. A year already! Wow!

    Out of those 6 bags, which do you carry around, and where do you leave the others?

    It would be fun to see a post like “Living full time in hotels: The numbers” where you could tell us how many nights in hotels, at your parents, at friends’, in which country/city, how many flights, how many miles flown, how many miles rede’emed, how many bottles of champagne enjoyed… And all the other numbers you could think of!

    It could be more than you’re willing to share but it certainly could make for an interesting post!

    Keep it up!

  14. Interesting to watch this journey and where it will go. Great work.

    PS: I’m single, whenever you are ready for that relationship.

  15. off topic, and i would completely understand if you chose not to answer since it’s very personal, when you stay in a hotel for an entire year, do you expense hotel charges (room + all charges) as a business expense (for year-end tax filings)? my gut instinct is yes, which is awesome.

  16. I too am curious what you use as a home address and which state you are a “resident” of. I have heard of companies that provide virtual mailboxes where you can direct mail and then they scan & e-mail it to you, which I would think you could use as a billing address but still doesn’t resolve the address you reside at. Also, what about package deliveries? If you order something from Amazon do you have it delivered to your hotel?

  17. I couldn’t do it. However, I can see how it would be a great way to meet people. Nobody greets homeowners with a smile when they pull in at night, but to do lists do… (Actually not true my kids scream with glee when dad comes home…) What does that say about me?? I discovered this year that I can’t do the “dog thing.” But I hope you find a meaningful relationship this year. You have a real job. They come in all shapes and sizes. I have dabbled in the travel career for almost a decade, but I fear if I get too into if then exciting things will become dull so I think your enthusiasm is great.

  18. Congratulations Ben! You work hard while having fun at what you do and you have earned the right to live this life style as long as you enjoy it and can afford it. While we may be helpful for you to earn enough from your award redemption business and your credit card links, you give us back 100 times more in advice and savings! Enjoy while you are young enough and until you decide to have a relationship or settle down. It’s been wonderful following your adventures. You have helped us to save so much from your advice to enable my wife and I to travel so often in business or first class at nearly no cost. Best of luck for continued success!

  19. Thanks for sharing with us this experience. When I was on the road 4-5 weeks a year, I often thought of doing the same. It seemed like home was the least interesting place to be. I agree about the eating healthy part, I just can’t say no to bacon. But something about what you are doing fascinates me. I have never commented before but have read this blog for a while and really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing with us your one year thoughts.

  20. For me one of the best things about your blog is how personal and honest you make it. think thats what makes a good blogger today.

  21. I’d love if you and Drew TravelisFree did some sort of comparison between your full-time hotel living/traveling. Things like money spent vs pts/bonus’s earned, hotel loyalty etc.

  22. So are you paying for hotel stays with cash, or do you use points? Or a combination of the two? Those nights on cash would add up really fast. Are a lot of your stays paid by your employer? (I have no idea what your actual job is)

  23. I was in hotels for a year and did not like it. I missed having a place that was “mine” and for me and my time. By the end I did not care about the points, etc. I had to return to my storage area for seasonal change of clothes. Something to be said for “Home Sweet Home.”

  24. You the Man !

    I envy you. My wife and daughter did for 3 months and really are glad that we did. I am also curious about not having an address what problem that caused. Again very impressive ! and congrads.

  25. I’m glad you ar living this experience and enjoying it!
    Certainly, you do a great job. I enjoy your blog a lot!
    Cheers from BCN!

  26. Okay absolutlely fabulous !
    Do you have a break down on Days per program ?
    SPG,Hyatt, Langham, IHG, HHilton et all
    ,.be interesting as it’s the avgeek coming out in me Lol 🙂

  27. Welcome to this great milestone. I have a ridiculous question. With all the credit cards you have, what is your billing address? None, you do it all online? PO Box somewhere in the USA? Your parents address?

    Cheers and safe travels man.

    Antonio.

  28. I have been homeless since last May. Unfortunately, I am not as rich as you. so i stayed in a combination of hotel, hostels, rental car, own car, airports to cut down on cost since i dont have a blog or credit card referal fee to support my spending. this is my 13th night in a car after making 1k by Feb 26 and aiming to requalify for delta platinum later this year, and will tru to status match to AA or AS later this year. i have done a few bucket list stuff like going to a africian safari to see the great migration. a few south pacific islands, climbing uluru, harbin ice festival (i did it after you mentioned it on the blog). next up, attend berkshire shareholder meeting. transiberian railway and a tour in Mongolia desert. hoping to burn 4 free nights certificate in Bora Bora (from the into the nights). i dont think i can afford it without doing all these promotions. i like it when i am on the road..

  29. Given you have stated you are a huge germaphobe Lucky, how do you deal with those laundromats you note you now heavily frequent? Do you blast your washes with a hygiene (i.e. nappy wash, etc) additive or something? It sounds like you miss your own personal washing machine most, reading between the lines.

  30. A year already!!! Crazy. And I’m onto my second Companion Pass and flew business class to Italy for the first time in my life (thanks to your booking service and several card sign-ups). Time flies. Thanks for all you’ve taught me.

  31. Is the picture of the cookies at the Regency Club at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki? If I remember right, you stayed there not too long ago!

  32. Curious about the night breakdown, especially how many nights at friends, hostels, etc. As I suggested on your post considering this adventure over a year ago, yes – go for it, but enjoy the cities you visit and consider the hostels to make some new friends, save money, and get a more unique experience, not in a sterile Grand Hyatt. Curious to hear your local experiences around this.

  33. Happy Lucky’s world home first birthday!

    I think living in hotels full time allows u to churn out more reviews n hence more content and traffic to your blog, so it is indeed a huge plus.

    Laundry is a major problem for me when i travel. I was wondering if u can do up a list of where u do ur laundry? (I.e. if at this hotel, i will go to this laundry at abc address, just x mins away)

    That list will be rare but very helpful to many n will only get longer n longer as u stay world-based.

    Stay lucky on your travels!

  34. I for one think you’re livin’ the dream. Kudos to you for finding a way to make it all work. Cheers, Hannah.

  35. Domicile is an issue with full-time RV’ers, but can be dealt with. There are mail service companies in states such as South Dakota, Texas, and Florida, that handle mail, vehicle registration, licenses, etc. Just search for “Americas mailbox” on the web.

  36. If I was living in hotels full time at least one day every 7 to 10 days would be at a hotel that has coin laundry facilities. I’d be staying at Candlewood Suites or the other long term stay hotels as often as possible so I could cook my own food

  37. Congrats to your aniversary 🙂

    I enjoy living in hotels. I am doing it already since 2009 and I am ok with it. And I am all with your, you are now less about material things. Before I had a lot of dust collectors at home and kept a lot of things. But now its just my suitcase and me.

    Also makes live easy and spontaneous. If you have to go some where quick, which I have to do a lot, Its super easy. Bags are petty much already packed 🙂

    Peter

  38. Lucky, do yo come out ahead cost-wise by saving on rent, but spending that rent money on travel? Or is it cost neutral?

  39. BEN! A Year????? It seems like it was a month ago you decided to do this. Wow. Glad it’s going well !!!

  40. Ben,

    You’ve mentioned several times about “commitments” you’ve recently had. Given that most of your work is booking award travel for cleints, would you be willing to share what those commitments are about?

  41. Ben,
    I really enjoyed reading your personal report here.
    Thanks so much for sharing all the aspects. Very enlightening.
    I’m glad you’re doing it all for all of us.
    While some folks might be envious, I’m glad I get all the info and don’t have to go out there myself all the time.
    Happy Trails,
    Mark

  42. @ Alex — Most of my work actually *isn’t* booking awards. I also speak at a handful of FTUs, speak at and attend many industry conferences, and do some consulting for some other businesses on the side.

  43. @ steve-Oh — I do come out a bit ahead, at least if I’m comparing the cost of rent/car/car insurance to what I’d pay for 7-10 days in hotels, given that I was previously traveling the rest of the month anyway.

  44. @ flyingfish — I don’t really have set places I do it. Instead I just find the closest fluff & fold places near where I’m staying which get good reviews.

  45. @ Ken — It’s a combination of points & cash. I always do whatever makes the most sense, so I won’t inefficiently redeem points just because it’s “free.”

  46. @ Marc — I’ll work on a “numbers” post. As far as bags go, I just have a 20″ Tumi bag, and then a weekender bag I travel with. Everything else is with my parents.

  47. Ben,

    I just want to thank you for such a great post. While the main reason I read your blog is you are, hands down, the master at redemption, I have have to admit, these types of personal posts are my favorite. Keep up the great work, and making those of us in “traditional” life relish the grand life adventure you are leading.

  48. Italian Opera composer Giuseppe Verdi lived in the Grand Hotel et de Milan suite for 27 years
    Lucky.. you are on your way !!
    🙂

  49. Congratulations!

    Now, when you’re young, is certainly the time to do this.

    And you’re way better at it than I ever could’ve been. I spent a couple of summers zipping through Europe years ago — that’s how long it took to see “everything” — and overnighted in trains, ferries, hostels, hotels, sundry B&Bs and even couple of campgrounds. I look back on it all fondly now, but at the time even one more second of the vagabond’s life I think would’ve sent me over the edge for good.

    I’m also with Lanteen and others: a post breaking down your brand preferences and points-versus-cash usage would be really interesting. Ironically, you seem not much for “long term stay” hotels such as Homewood Suites.

    Good luck on the coming “hotel year”!

  50. Would be nice to tell us the reason for staying full time in hotels? Have regular jobs that requires travel & company pays for your stays or paid with all the compensations you get as blogger for CC referrals?
    Which chains you stay at most? Have status with them all that gives breakfast? If not you eat breakfast outside the hotel?
    Thanks

  51. @ jim — I stay mostly with Hyatt and Starwood. I live in hotels full time because that’s a lot of what I blog about (hotel and airline reviews).

  52. Thanks for posting an update on this, Ben – can’t believe that’s a year already! Thanks for taking us all on the journey with you in your excellent posts!

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