Traveling, like the rest of life, is full of rituals. Since I've been traveling I've picked up a few interesting behaviors along the way that I figure are worth sharing. I have all kinds of rituals for different parts of travel but one of the more interesting times, as far as travel goes, is during hotel check in and the time that immediately follows. For a little more about my thoughts on rituals rituals in general you might enjoy try the first half of Shaving in Airports.
At The Front Desk
When I get to the hotel front desk I always request a room away from elevators, ice machines, washing machines and vending machines. Loyal readers know that I do love vending machines (Vending Machine Love) but the one of the rare exception to this is when I'm trying to sleep. There's nothing worse than being awoken when someone is trying get a Coke at 3 in the morning. OK, there are plenty of worse things but late night vending machine noise is unpleasant and easily avoidable.
Of course these requests don't always ensure a quiet room but they will work most of the time. There are times when you check in late and you don't really have a choice in rooms, you're out of luck in that case. Another sad scenario is when you arrive to a hotel and there are school busses outside. The dreaded overnight school field trip, while fun for kids, is not something that I enjoy. Screaming girls in the hallway, playing cards all night, running up and down the hall, eating all the food at the continental breakfast in the morning... This is just painful for a business traveler and I hope you never run into it. Meanwhile, back to the front desk...
During the course of checking in the person at the counter they usually ask me how many key cards I'd like. I always thought this was a strange questions since it's only me. How many keys could I possibly need? Due to the strangeness of this question I usually ask for 22 room keys. Sometimes they take me seriously but most of the time they get the joke. After that I'll ask for 2 keys, one for my pocket and one that lives in my wallet because I tend to lose the one in my pocket.
When traveling abroad I'll usually be jet lagged and not quite in the moment. Combined with interacting with someone with a heavy accent that I'm not used to I usually end up asking for directions to the elevator at least twice. After that I wander around until I find the elevator.
At The Room
Once I get to my room I'll open the door once and let it shut on its own. If it latches properly I'll open the door again and enter. If the door does not latch on its own I'll find the elevator again, head to the front desk and request a new room. I once had a room with a door that didn't latch properly, I noticed it and made a point of pulling the door shut when I left. Unfortunately the cleaning staff was not so mindful of this detail and left my room unlocked for the better part of the day. Fortunately nothing was stolen but I had to toss my toothbrush and my razor because you never know. I did get to change rooms to a much better one and ended up running into Dee Snyder because of it (see: Random Famous People).
With an acceptable room I'll make sure that the curtains block out an adequate amount of light, sometimes this doesn't work but a handful of paper clips from the front desk and a bath towel stuffed in a clever fashion can solve most curtain issues. Next I'll check to make sure that the alarm clock isn't set to some ungodly hour then I'll head to the bathroom to check the shower water pressure. Sometimes you can't tell a lot by this test but it will let you know that the shower can work properly.
Once these things check out then the room is good enough for me and I tear the comforter off the bed and stuff it into the corner or into an unused closet. Those comforters just aren't cleaned as often as they should be, I'm sure that you've heard the stories. I've never purchased a black light to carry around with me to check but I honestly don't want to know. Although a series of pictures of black light lit hotel comforters might make for an interesting blog entry...
That's about it for my hotel check in rituals. I get the feeling that I should carry disinfection wipes with me to wipe things down things such as: phone, remote control, door nobs, toilet handles, etc. After all, the population of an entire planet was once destroyed due to a virus that spread off the handsets of telephones.
Do you have any hotel room rituals? I'd love to hear about them.
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Coming Soon: Travel Distraction-Sock Monsters