I used to travel constantly for work. In my first job as a lawyer, for example, I was a trial attorney based in Washington, D.C.

However, the territory that I had to cover was in the Pacific Northwest: mainly Idaho and Washington State.

This meant I spent a lot of time in airports, on planes and in hotels. And with the time difference -- it's only three hours, but still -- it meant dealing with jet lag.

That means, in turn, that I am quite familiar with the notion of staying in an airport Marriott or Hilton, hoping to sleep a few hours later in the morning and catch up on what I'd missed while traveling, only to be interrupted by the one thing that I suspect every business traveler can relate to:

Those early morning moments when you realize your hotel's so-called "blackout curtains" aren't 100 percent effective, because they don't quite close completely.

Thus, a narrow, bright shaft of sunlight comes through the curtains at sunrise -- somehow always seeming to be aimed right at your eyes while you'd like nothing more than to continue to sleep.

Suffer no more, dear reader. We've got the trick you have been waiting for.

Ex-Googler Rick Klau, who is now a senior operating partner at Google Ventures, shared the solution in the form of a photograph on Twitter:

Mind blown. (In case that doesn't load for some reason, Klau suggested using one of the hotel hangers -- the kind with binder hooks intended to let you hang clothes from the hanger, instead of on it -- to secure the blinds shut.

(As a backup of course, you could just throw some clothespins or binder clips in your bag, and use them.)

This is one of those "guy who has 29,000 followers posts it and gets 60,000 retweets and 386,000 likes" kind of tweets. The thing just went insanely viral.

Anyone who reads my column knows I'm a sucker for a good, free hack like this. I've written about some of them before (here and here).

But this one is smart, easy, free, and seems destined to work. It also inspired other Twitter users to share their own hotel hacks.

None of these is quite as ingenious as the hanger idea, but as Natalie B. Compton of The Washington Post reported, they're worth knowing. Her bonus list includes:

  • Blocking blinking lights (think smoke alarm) with electrical tape
  • Combating dry air with a wet towel ("[Soak a towel with water, wringing it tightly so that it's not dripping, then hanging it over an ironing board in front of your room's vent or heater.")
  • Ask at the front desk if they have any phone chargers. (Spoiler alert: they do. Probably lots.)
  • Override the thermostat. Will this always work? Maybe not, but Compton includes some very specific instructions: "Step one is to hold down the thermostat's "display" button, then press the "off" button simultaneously. Keep holding the display button down, but let go of the off button and press the up arrow. Once you release all of the buttons, you'll have free rein of the temperature controls."
  • Avoid the germs of the remote control. Use the plastic bag from your ice bucket, or even a shower cap.
  • Keeping the power on without using your room key. Little known fact: In most hotels where you need to leave your room key in a slot to keep the power on, any similarly sized card will work just as well. 

There you go. I can't make business travel enjoyable; that's up to you. But hopefully you can at least get a good night's sleep on the road.
 

Published on: Oct 6, 2019
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.