Thinking about the identification documents you need to pack while planning a road trip isn't nearly as exciting as considering all the attractions you'll visit, but without the proper ID, your trip will quickly become a headache. Although each motel has its own check-in policy, having a government-issued photo ID handy is often enough to get a room at most hotel chains like Hilton or Marriott.


Whether you use the Internet to make a reservation or show up in person hoping to get a hotel room at the last minute, motels typically require you to show a valid photo ID, like a driving license or passport, to prove your identity. This policy isn't unique to motels; most hotel check-ins also require to you show a valid form of ID.

Photo ID

Depending on your state of residence, your available photo ID cards can vary. Common reputable photo ID cards include your driver's license, health card, student ID card, military ID card and passport. If you're unsure about what the motel considers a valid photo ID, call the front desk before your visit to ensure you have the right card.

Age Requirement

Motels and hotels typically require the guest making the booking to be at least 18 years of age. Motel 6, for example, requires the person who makes the booking to be at least 18 to 21 years old, depending on the state. Ensure that your photo ID includes your age so that the motel clerk can confirm you meet the motel's age requirement.


If you booked a hotel reservation online, you might have to show the debit card or credit card you used during the booking to the desk clerk to ensure that the name on the credit card matches the name on your photo ID as well as to protect against any incidentals that might occur during your stay. Motels typically provide confirmation numbers upon booking a room; if you have this number handy, it will speed up the check-in process. If you forget to write down the number, the clerk can typically search for you by your name.

In this day and age it can be tough to get a room key without a valid credit card or photo identification. Some places might allow you to just leave your contact information and pay cash, but this is going to be up to each individual hotel manager or hotel policy, so it’s best to check beforehand.