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.

Travel without traveling.

Travel without traveling.

With Covid realities, many people have put off traveling due to health and safety concerns.  For those who love traveling, however, Covid has not stopped them from traveling. I’m an advocate of traveling, but I highly advise doing it safely and with the thought of not only your health but the health of your fellow traveler.  Although staycations are great, here are a few more ideas to temper the travel bug without traveling long distances.

Visit local tourist attractions as though you were a tourist.  Often, we take our cities for granted and never take advantage of the local attractions those who pay to fly into our towns to enjoy.  One of the single most significant costs of a vacation is the flight.  Not having to pay for travel might cover the cost of a local tourist attraction you would otherwise consider expensive.  Additionally, you can go whenever you choose.

Read travel blogs like mine (shameless plug), watch travel videos, documentaries, podcasts, and all things travel. You’ll be amazed at the things you can learn from other people’s travels and experiences.  You will also be better able to plan your trips in the future by knowing some tips and tricks about your preferred destination.

Visit an international museum virtually.  One of the benefits of Covid is that museums worldwide now offer virtual tours.  A virtual international museum tour could save you time on your itinerary to visit something else or do another activity you might not have time for when you finally reach your destination.

Try dining out in different international restaurants in your area.  The world is so multicultural that it is almost a guarantee to have an international restaurant in your area.  Why wait until you travel far away to try the cuisine.  Dining locally might give you a better palate for the food when you do travel.

Try cooking an international dish at home, along with an international wine, or making a destination drink while you’re cooking will make you feel more compelled to complete the plans for your trip.

Have you tried any travel without going places? I’ve taken advantage of my home city Dallas Texas and seen places I hadn’t even considered.  How about you? Let me know.

Keeping personal boundaries when you travel.

Keeping personal boundaries when you travel.

Establishing your personal boundary can be a challenge when traveling as you have to share communal space. However, understanding your and other people’s boundaries is important to having positive traveling experiences.

Travelers must remember that cultural norms often define someone’s perception of personal space, and people will have different sets of meanings and values. When traveling, remember that even though norms are different, you do not have to accept any interaction that violates your personal boundary.

It is important to make sure your boundaries are respected but is it equally important to respect them in others. Your actions and words may be innocent in your personal relationships yet could be construed as rude and offensive to your fellow traveler.

While many may understand the word “no” to mean exactly that, some people and cultures may believe that a no will eventually lead to a yes. Be clear in your interactions when traveling so that there is no question about your meaning or intent.

Remember that being kind and being nice are not the same. Being kind involves being considerate and respectful to others while being nice usually means giving more consideration to others than ourselves. Often, being nice crosses your personal boundary, be kind and say no.

Finally, keep in mind the role of stereotyping in our interactions, especially for women of color who are often seen as exotic and more sexually permissive than other women.

Have you experienced any issues in keeping your personal boundary when you’ve traveled? I’d like to know.

Being a “different” traveler.

Being a “different” traveler.

As a person of color, being seen as a “different” traveler is not a novel experience. Having “locs” (or dreadlocks as they are commonly referred to) and being able to occupy spaces where people of color are not normally seen makes me appear different to many and sparks curiosity. I’ve learned to embrace being different and to see it as a positive experience. Here are five ways you can make your presence as a different traveler a more pleasurable experience.

1.Smile. Even in the face of obvious displeasure, it throws off those who tend to see you differently. It takes less energy to smile than it takes to frown and often gives you a sense of power not expected. Most people can’t help but wonder why you are smiling when they think you should not be. Positivity wins every time.

2.Embrace being the object of attention. This is yet another way to remain positive in the face of being made to feel different. Enjoy reading or listening to a book, or watching a movie, if you prefer solitude. Sooner or later, your comfortability appearance will actually become real, and you won’t even notice the looks.

3.Be open to curiosity. I have found that being open to having conversations or answering queries that respect my boundaries to be more informative than invasive. I have had many conversations about my hair and have learned to embrace curiosity to teach my culture to people.

4.Embrace being different and love the skin you’re in. No two people are the same, and everywhere you go, whether the destination is local or international, you will be different from the people surrounding you, be it in features or culture.

5.Know that just as you seek to gain new experiences and knowledge by traveling, many others are doing the same. Traveling opens us up to new worlds, and to many, we as travelers are part of their experience. An open mind is the best luggage you can carry.

Have you experienced being a “different” traveler? Has it been a positive or negative experience? I’d like to know.

Five safety tips when traveling solo.

Five safety tips when traveling solo.

Traveling alone can be challenging whether you are an adventurous person or not, and no timing or circumstance can make the journey ideal.  As with all travel, the key to traveling is preparation.  When traveling solo, you should give thought to some safety precautions.  These five tips are not all-inclusive but are meant to help those planning to travel alone.

1.Share your information with someone, whether it is a family member or a friend.  Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.  If you’ve planned an itinerary, share it with someone and in the age of social media, stay as connected as you can.

2.Upon arrival, take note of your surroundings and the people around you.  Do they look like tourists, or do they look local? Is there anyone you notice who is paying particular attention to you?  There will always be locals trying to provide transportation upon arrival, but pre-planned transportation or recognized taxi service is always a better option.

3.Get an idea of the travel time to your destination.  When making reservations, take note of the driving time and/or distance to know if your ride is taking longer than usual.  Often, taxis will take the scenic route to increase the fare, but knowing timing lets the driver know you have an idea of your destination and that you are an aware passenger.

4.When checking into your room, ask at the check-in desk for a floor plan.  Some people prefer to be close to the stairs, while others prefer to be near an elevator.  Seeing a floor plan lets you know the general area of the floor you will be staying on, and you can request a change before you leave the check-in desk.

5.Check the room as soon as you get in. Hotels are not perfect, and you might be checking into an occupied room.  Check closets and bathrooms before closing your room door completely.  Use all deadbolts and locks when in the room and always check before opening your door, even if you expect service from the hotel.

I could add so many other tips, but these are some of the most common guidelines that come to mind.  Traveling solo can be wonderful, but it’s best to do it safely.  What are some of the tips you would give if you’ve traveled solo before?  If you haven’t, were these safety tips helpful? I’d like to know.

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