Being a black traveler

Being a black traveler

It’s 2021, and it still amazes me to see the reactions of people I assume think I don’t belong in a particular space.  Stereotypes are well established, and I still get the microaggressive questions like, where are you from? What do you do? What does your husband do?  Sometimes I also get blunt questions like What brings you here?  I remember the famous Oprah Winfrey shopping experience quite well, and I realize that no matter the status, being a black traveler comes with some unique experiences.  Here are a few recollections from my experiences.

First-class

I’m a luxury traveler, and whenever possible, I indulge myself with that experience.  I can’t count the number of times I have queued for the first /business class travel lane and had fellow passengers step around me like I was invisible.  I often also get the automatic direction to the right from a flight attendant when boarding a plane.  It amuses me to go left, and then I get asked again for my boarding pass for a second verification as if somehow there was a mistake.

Travel lounges

Entering a travel lounge is no different.  I often see people flash their boarding passes and walk into the lounge.  However, I am frequently asked not only for my boarding pass but for identification.  When in the lounge, I see other passengers being asked if they would like a refill or a request if service is needed.  Frequently I am overlooked and must request service.

Customs and immigration

Customs and immigration are no different. I realize that some questions are valid, but I sometimes feel a sense of invasiveness when asked, what brings you here? Where are you staying? How long are you staying?  Although these might be valid questions, I’ve stood in line long enough to see that not everyone is questioned in the same way.  My history of microaggressive behavior makes me question the questioner.

Hotels

As a frequent traveler, I often stay at the same hotel chain for loyalty points.  As a loyal customer and quite knowledgeable about hotel services, I am rarely recognized as a loyal customer.  I know my wants are documented in the system, yet my room is often not as requested.  Again, this may be just assuming the worst, but historical experience tells me I’m not off the mark.

This article is by no means meant to be a  complaint.  It is simply a sharing of my lived experiences.  Have you noticed or experienced similar experiences?  If you haven’t, I invite you to take notice and claim your validity of space.  It’s incredible that even now, in 2021, the spaces I enter question my presence simply because of my hue.

Realities of hotel stays.

Realities of hotel stays.

Anticipating your destination is never the same as finally reaching it.  The first stop of your travel is your accommodations, and whether Airbnb or hotel, here are a few ideas to keep in mind when you finally reach your vacation stop.

There’s always that “ahh” feeling when you finally reach your destination where you want to lay on the bed in either exhaustion or relief at finally reaching your goal.  Hold on! Most likely, the hotel did not change the duvet or bed covering since the last guest.  As a former flight attendant who spent most of my life in hotel rooms, I could write a whole blog post just on the realities of hotel bed coverings. Your first notion when reaching your accommodation should be to remove the outer bed cover, especially if you cannot tell if it’s fresh linen. You can always tell this with white sheets and bed coverings.

Another hotel tip is to never drink from hotel glasses, especially those found in the bathroom before you wash them yourself.  I have often walked into hotel rooms in the process of being cleaned and, from my lived experience, often seen the maid wiping rather than washing the glasses.  Since Covid, many hotels have switched to plastic, but if your hotel has not, be mindful and wash those glasses before you use them.

Always check your sheets before you get into bed.  If after you’ve checked in and your bedding appears slept on or wrinkled, you can request to have them changed to be entirely sure they are clean.  In addition, check your towels, and if they appear soiled or used, please request fresh towels. Often only the towels used are replaced, and those not used stay in the room despite a new change of guest.

Along the same lines as hotel bed coverings, hotel carpets are also rarely cleaned.  I would highly suggest that you treat hotel carpet flooring as you would with public showers and never go barefoot.  Carpets are often only vacuumed between guests, but when maids are rushing to have rooms ready and the carpets appear clean, this is usually not done.  In most cases, when the carpet is soiled and needs cleaning, it is often only a spot treatment as this can take a room out of service.  Maids avoid this by heavily vacuuming instead, so be aware and try not to go barefoot.

These hotel realities are often not found at pricier hotels and accommodations, but sometimes the price does not guarantee quality.   Be aware that the standards you expect from your hotel may not be the reality.  Remember that these and other hotel realities can be addressed and do not have to spoil your vacation.

Have you had any unexpected hotel experiences? I’d like to know.

5 Covid friendly hotel stay tips.

5 Covid friendly hotel stay tips.

Having flown as a career for over 20 years I have stayed in many hotel rooms and so the experience has taught me a lot about what to look out for in terms of cleanliness.

1. Check the hotel sheets. No one wants to sleep on possible dirty covid sheets. I can’t tell you how many different times I have gone into a hotel room just dying to shower and get into bed and found that the sheets have not been changed. If you do this when you first get into the hotel room, there is plenty of opportunity for the hotel to fix the issue before you are ready to go to bed.

2. Make sure the sheets are visibly dirty before you check out of the hotel and prevent any possible Covid spread. I think it’s just a matter of kindness to the next guest and just plain hygienic. Don’t feel bad as the hotel should automatically be doing this anyhow. I always wiped the bottom of my shoe across the sheets before I checked out.

3.Place a face towel or hand towel on the bathroom counter to place all your items on. Especially in this time of covid you do not want to transfer any germs to your face or hands. It’s also a visual reminder of anything placed on the counter and it helps in not forgetting items like jewelry in the bathroom.

4. Take an extra washcloth and wipe the toilet seats down. I think we all assume that the hotel room has been cleaned thoroughly but my experience has shown that the toilet seat is often overlooked.

5. Treat hotel room floors like airplane bathrooms and never assume it’s just water. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed through hotel corridors and seen the remains of a hotel room party gone wild. Let’s face it, the hotel does not have the manpower or capability to thoroughly clean hotel room floors, nor do they often have time between checkouts. Covid can be easily spread through bodily fluids.

I hope my tips have been helpful, check back in for more of my lived travel experience.

5 must have items that stay in my carry-on.

5 must have items that stay in my carry-on.

As an avid world traveler who has done this both professionally and personally, my carry-on is always semi-packed. Here are my tips and advice on the 5 items I consider must-haves and should always be in my carry on.

1. A lingerie organizer bag (details on another blog post). The one I use has two sides, one for clean underwear and the other for dirty. You never want to get them confused!

2. An electronic organizer bag (blog post coming). With people being so connected it is so inconvenient to lose connectivity and most hotels do not provide enough power outlets for the technology we use in our daily lives.

3. A toothbrush which in my opinion is even more needed than the electronic organizer. Many people pack this in their suitcase but with the chances of your luggage being lost, I like to always have this at hand.

4. A medicine bag with items like Tums, ibuprofen, cold medicine, etc. I tend to also have eye masks, face masks, prescription medications, band-aids, Neosporin, alcohol pads, and such (more on another post).

5. Finally I always have a small makeup bag with the basics like mascara, lip moisturizer, lipstick, makeup remover cloths, toner, and face moisturizer. These are always found at beauty supply stores and pharmacies in travel sizes.

You make have other priorities for your carry-on. If so, what are they? I’d love to find out.

Massage, one of the best things for self care.

Massage, one of the best things for self care.

They are plenty of different types of travelers. Backpackers, weekenders, thrill seekers, and holiday travelers are but a few.  I have traveled extensively for work and pleasure and I consider myself a spa traveler.  For me, travel is not just to have been to a destination or to check it off my bucket list, I travel for the experience of travel.  Most importantly, a spa visit to wherever I go is a must as I believe that self care is the best care.

With Covid 19, travel is limited, but it is limitless in my mind.  Inner travel often takes me back to many of my previous travel experiences as well as the ones I’d like to have.  Lately, getting at home massages has been a way for me to elevate my inner travel experience. I believe that a massage is one of the best things for self care, a way to treat yourself and take a break from life.  For an hour, I can do nothing but be still and have someone concentrate on me, the ultimate getaway.

What travel experiences do you think you can bring to your life without leaving the presence of your home?  Can you make a cocktail or cocktail and take an hour for yourself? Can you just sit still and watch the world go by on your street or neighborhood?  Just people watch like we do when we’re on vacation and curious about the people and places we see.  Try it and let me know how bringing the inner travel experience to life works for you.

Pin It on Pinterest