I Steal Hotel Pens and Other Confessions by Travel Writers

InterContinental Bangkok

We all have our own little quirks and secrets that we don’t normally share with other people and this is especially true when it comes to travel. These confessions usually aren’t anything major, little acts of rebellion or misbehavior that are just part of the experience. I thought it would be fun to ask some travel writers, people who travel all the time, what their biggest travel confessions were and what follows is an odd mix of petty theft and strange rituals. I’ll start things off with my own confession.

I Steal Hotel Pens

I have never been able to keep a pen for more than a few days. I’m not sure where they go, whether or not there’s a black hole of pens somewhere in my house, but I can never find one when I need it and so I am always in search of new ones to replace the missing. That’s why I love that just about every hotel offers pens for their guests, which I of course steal whenever possible. Not all hotel pens are made the same, the pens found at Spring Hill Suites or La Quinta are usually cheap and plastic, but they work. However, once in a while I’ll find a truly magnificent hotel pen that is theft worthy and when I do it’s a special travel moment. Mandarin Oriental has some great pens, as does the JW Marriott. But some high-end hotels have caught on to my little trick and have started replacing pens with pencils, thereby ensuring that they’ll remain firmly in place. You know what though? Even though I’ve stolen hundreds if not thousands of hotel pens in my life, I couldn’t find a single one when I started writing this post.


Keith Jenkins, Velvet Escape

My travel confession: I zoom in on the toiletries especially if they’re really good – but I guess that’s what they’re there for: to be used and taken home in the hope that the guest would spread the word about how wonderful those brands are! I have a modest collection of shampoos, body lotions, scrubs and the occasional slippers. Their small size is especially handy and that’s perfect for me because I always try to travel with hand luggage only whenever possible.

Erin De Santiago-Domue, Our Tasty Travels

When I think about my travel confessions, I realize what a bad person I really am. From stealing all the coffee and tea provided in my hotel room on a daily basis to trying to push the boundaries on airline luggage policies, I have a number of dirty little travel-related secrets. One of the worst is probably my deceptively innocent smile and gesture when I offer to let you board in front of me at the airline terminal gate. Elite members and business class passengers typically crowd towards the front, like gate lice, and I am guilty of being right up there to board early and secure overhead bin space too. Spending so much time in the air throughout the year gives me an advantage of knowing which airports have secondary screenings just after “boarding”. It is these airports where being in the wrong position in line can set you back one or two boarding calls as official TSA equivalent employees root through every single item in your carry on — including pulling out all camera lenses one by one – so overhead bin space is non-existent when you do finally get on board. So, if you happen to be on the same plane with me and I offer to let you go ahead of me in line, it’s probably safe to say I’m not doing it out of the goodness of my heart.


Stephanie Yoder, Twenty-Something Travel

It’s such a dude thing and I am definitely a lady but wow do I HATE asking for directions! This is a problem because I do not own a smart phone and I’m only so-so at using maps. Still, I’m always sure I can find my way on my own. When I’m traveling with my fiancé I will always make him ask someone. If I’m alone I will literally wander around in circles until I figure it out.

 Lufthansa A380 Cabin

Ben Reed, Adventures with Ben

I always read the inflight safety card before every flight departs, every time. I also find it incredibly rude if you’re one of those people who blatantly ignore the Flight Attendant when they give their safety spiel. It’s important to pay close attention, even if you’re a frequent traveler!


McDonald's Jordan

Norbert Figueroa, GloboTreks

I go to McDonalds or other American fast foods at almost every country I visit. I admit that I do actually like fast foods, and of course, I always like the free wifi that comes with them (in most cases).


West Coast Drive New Zealand

Roni Weiss, RoniWeiss.com

I hate nature and I really can’t deal with it most of the time. Other than waterfalls and animals, I generally couldn’t care less. I wanted to leave the Grand Canyon almost as soon as I arrived. I ended up watching Mad Men on my computer as my friend roamed around. You can see pix of me pretending to shoot myself in Cappadocia, with a look of utter dejection in my eyes. Few and far between are the landscapes where I get anything other than a picture and a sinking feeling of “Why the hell do I have to be here?”

What are some of your travel confessions?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

30 thoughts on “I Steal Hotel Pens and Other Confessions by Travel Writers”

  1. I love toiletries. I can never control myself when I see an unattended maid’s cart full of soaps, shampoos and mini toothbrushes. I take as much as my hands can possibly hold and run back to my room thinking ‘Victoryyyy!’. True story.

  2. I also horde all little freebies… from the hotel toiletries (when I actually am staying in a real hotel) to the tea bags or packets of powdered milk they give you on an airplane. I also steal a few packets of artificial sweetener because I am a coffee addict and don’t like using real sugar.

  3. I totally steal everything (at least everything that won’t result in my arrest). But my biggest weakness are free toothbrushes (bonus points if they come with the miniature tube of toothpaste) and hotel notepads (you just never know when you might need to write something down, you know?).

  4. I absolutely take toiletries and the little pads of paper next to the pens, but not the pens. Also, I rarely eat the peanuts on the plane, but still take them to bring home. So, if you ever come to my house, I might be serving you a big bowl of them ;)

    1. Reg – It’s a bit of a superstitious thing for me. I MUST read the safety card before we lift off. 400,000 miles and I still do it! Plus… (and everyone has heard this argument before), reading the card improves the chances you’ll remember the information in the event of a real emergency. Plus… Sky Mall has the same junk anyway, so put it down for 2 minutes! Oh and did I mention I have a crush on Deltalina?

      1. I do sometimes feel its rude to ignore the flight attendants as they rock the safety demo so I often watch.
        But then there’s that awkward eye contact moment when they realise I’m the only one looking and I’m sure they must be thinking “why on earth is this girl staring at me, noone ever watches these things…”
        So that’s when I go back to studying the safety card in intricate detail…

      2. I always look at the safety card and listen to the flight attendants. I have always done it and see no reason why to stop now. I also count the seat rows to the nearest exit, always want to be prepared. Call me crazy, maybe but at least I know what to do in case of an emergency.

  5. I totally do the same things..
    Pens, pencils, toiletries, teabags, papers, envelopes, combs, toothbrushes, anything I can find and bring, i will steal them.. :D
    Somehow i don’t see it as stealing though. Well they are included in the hotel facilities, and we can take and use them, I think?

  6. Haha! Loved the one about letting people in line! I definitely am guilty of taking toiletries from hotels, since supermarkets and the like charge so much for the same small containers. Sometimes karma strikes when the lids aren’t quite as sealed as you thought and they leak everywhere (although since I store them in plastic bags it doesn’t go far).

    I suppose my confession would be that I often pack my carry-on bag knowing it’s over the 7kg limit imposed on most passengers outside America. It’s not that I’m deliberately trying to flout the rules, but my camera/lenses/laptop just weigh too much. It’s a good argument for getting a micro 4/3s camera, but in the meantime, I’m certainly not packing any of those items in my check-in because they won’t be in one piece when I get the bag back.

    1. Woo hoo! Glad I don’t just sound like the horrible person here for my shady behavior with boarding! My carry on is always over the limit for the same reason…camera gear weighs a ton!

  7. I collect hotel/hostel things in foreign countries with fun typos and design errors. For example, from China I have a “Shoe Shine Gloth” and a “Sewnig Kit”.

    When we were kids, me and my brothers totally used to load up on hotel pens and paper pads… from the maid’s carts! We always had a collection of different stationary for our long road trips. Of course our parents didn’t think it was so funny.

  8. We’re excessive McDonalds-Wifi-Whore’s over here at AngloItalian.

    In fact I’m surprised Im not typing this from a McD’s right now!

  9. I’m a huge hotel toiletries hoarder, my bathroom is full of them. I can’t help being a bit disappointed if a room has wall-mounted products.

    General rule for taking away – shoe buffers and sewing kits are ok, bathrobes and lamps are not.

  10. My family went without having to buy shampoo or conditioner for a year thanks to the toiletries I brought home. If I stay more than one day, I put the leftover bottles in my bag before leaving for the day so that housekeeping will restock me!

  11. Haha I love this! I definitely love all the free things, toiletries, notepads etc, and it’s not stealing I don’t think, I think hotels expect you to take that stuff :)

  12. I have a thing about collecting McDonalds place mats wherever I travel, and have many in all different languages. Some advertise events like Olympics and are fun to look at now and then. I’m not sure how it started, but its hard to break the tradition.

  13. I often chat up hotel bartenders/waitresses (seriously, they are often cool people), get hammered, and have sex with hotel staff. Does that count as a dirty secret? I’m not really that secretive about it I guess….though often times things do get kind of dirty…so in a sense I suppose it is a dirty secret.

  14. My kids have a wierd fetish for shoe shining kits even thought htey only wear trainers. I have to admit can’t pass a sewing kit without putting it in my handbag. I hate sewing. But if I have a kit on me at all times then I feel I’m a better mother.

  15. Love this! Laughing out loud EACH time I read through this post –
    The images I now have of Stephanie, wandering, for hours! Priceless.

  16. I always break the carry-on rules, either by exceeding the weight restrictions, or by carrying more than the permitted number of carry on items for my seat class. Sometimes I get away with it by deliberately concealing my hand luggage at check in, and then telling the security check and flight attendants that the check in counter approved it. I don’t like checking luggage, so I always push the carry on limits!

  17. Hilarious! And what about those press trips when they actually GIVE you gift baskets and crap? I’m like over the moon! Toiletries are my weakness, for sure.

  18. Pens, notepads and especially the lotions, they’re my favourite because I can keep the little bottles in my bag and when my hands feels dry….there they are in their cute little bottles!

    The oddest thing I have taken is the key card. And it wasn’t my idea, but someone I was with who said “Keep it as a souvenir” and I thought Mmmm Why not… Yeah, I don’t understand it either…. But too this day the Hilton Doubletree is missing a key card…

Comments are closed.

I help you experience the best the world has to offer!

Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.