Monday, June 11, 2012

We’re Hotel Experienced

           The girls and I love to travel, whether it’s a short day excursion, a brief overnight trip, or getting away for a few days to discover new vistas. We love that feeling we get as we experience new adventures or visit old memories. It’s what keeps our tires spinning on most weekends. However, due to the frequency of our little escapes and the size of our family, those $325.89 a night “suites” are definitely not within our budget. We lean more toward those hotels that remain under the arm-and-a leg price range.
          Now, that’s not to say that the places we stay at don’t have all the extra perks that the luxury hotels offer. We always go for a place that provides those little extras. I mean, we do have standards, after all. It’s just that they aren’t always as extravagant or large as their costly counterparts.

           Every time we go on a trip we learn something new that will make our next trip more enjoyable. With all of our traveling, both in hotels and on that one four-day cruise that made us feel like experts, the girls and I have comprised an important list of things to help us survive the low budget hotels and not have to do without. However, that means that while we enjoy getting away from home on occasion, we tend to take most of our home with us when we go. I admit I’m the worst, because I practically pack my office and lug it everywhere. It works out okay, though. While I’m packing my office, the girls are packing the bathroom and every pair of shoes they own.
           However, I’m glad that the girls insist on packing up the bathroom and bringing it with us, otherwise I may never get clean. Whenever we take a trip we pack our own bath wash, shampoo and, for the girls, conditioner. They even take along their own body lotions. Sure, the hotels give you those little thin bars of soap about the size of the remnants that we usually give up on and throw away. They also give you those teeny bottles of shampoo that look more like cologne samples than what I need to wash my hair. I’m going to need four of those bottles a day! Besides, I like my body wash and shampoo. That’s why I buy the brand I do, or rather why the girls buy it for me.
          The hotels even supply a blow dryer so that their guests can hit the town for sightseeing and overpriced beverages with dry, flowing hair. Yet, as the girls say, “That couldn’t blow dry Barbie’s hair.” Therefore, an entire bag is devoted to hairdryers, curling irons, and flat irons. I get a comb. Of course, that’s on top of all the deodorants, hair brushes, tooth paste, tooth brushes, and mini-grooming kits. A normal makeup bag just doesn’t hold it all.
          Like the blow dryer, everything the hotel provides is done in miniature. There is mini-fridge, a tiny microwave, and what has to be a toy coffee pot. There is no way they can honestly believe that the brewer they offer is for real adults. At the most it makes two cups of coffee the size of Dylan’s tea set and even on vacation I need a pot of the Good Morning Juice. Furthermore, the cups are mere shot glasses and don’t even give you a good rinse when brushing your teeth. I need a real mug, not a thin plastic cup the girls are going to puncture with their fingernails. Therefore, we take my coffee pot along for the journey and one of my favorite Disney character mugs. Nothing like waking up to Grumpy - on the mug, that is. I would never call the girls grumpy; not in writing anyway.
My makeshift balcony
          Of course, that also means that I bring my own coffee because the hotel only hands you those pre-packaged two cup coffee packs that were around long before Keurig’s K-Cup. Besides, I hate the taste. It’s way too bitter even for me and makes Starbucks’ coffee seem sweet. I know you’re thinking that’s a lot to pack, but I save luggage space by drinking my coffee black. No need to haul sugar and cream, just a few coffee filters.
          Of course, that’s only the tip of the ice berg and by the time we’re done our room will look like the aftermath of the Titanic. There is an abundance of cell phone chargers along with the charger for the iTouch and its docking station. There are laptops and digital cameras, which are necessary for work and pleasure. Furthermore, our external hard drive is in tow as well, because we need some place to dump the 617 pictures we took that day to make room for the next day’s adventures. We also need the Paint Shop Pro software that’s on it so that we can rotate and crop the pictures to quickly put then on Facebook to show the world we do have fun outside of bars.
          That’s a lot of gizmos and one of the things I’ve noticed about hotels is that they have just enough electrical outlets to plug in their stuff with none left over for ours. You would think that in today’s technological world, hotels would add power strips next to the Gideon’s Bible so that their guests could stay in touch with family back home. Unfortunately, they are still in the rotary phone era. Therefore, along with all of the necessary as well as not so necessary gadgets, I toss in two extension cords and a power strip. Now everything gets plugged in and I’m running up their electric bill, getting full use of my $77.29 per night not so luxurious room.
          And that’s what makes it a luxury for me, not worrying about the power bill. I can go all weekend without running behind everyone turning out lights, switching off the television and unplugging unused appliances. It’s also why the first thing I do upon entering my little nook away from home is crank the air down to near freezing. I’m not paying the electric bill and I want to know what it’s like to sleep without sweating. Of course, the hotels know this, which is why the blankets they supply are just as thin as the sheets covering the rock hard mattress. The towels are equally anorexic and I wonder if they really expect me to dry off with them or just use them as Kleenex.
          As much as I want my room to have flurries of snowflakes drifting through the air, I don’t want to shiver my remaining hair loose while sleeping. Therefore, my favorite blanket, which is king sized and thick, is brought along so that I may snuggle in a warm cocoon. I am still able to see my breath as I snore, but my tootsies are toasty.
          Of course, since I’ve brought my blanket I also have to bring my pillow. They’re a matched set that have been together a long time and I hate the idea of separating them. The hotel does give us a pillow, but as I’ve said before everything they supply is in miniature. It’s more like one of those decorative pillows the girls adorn our couches with at home, and besides, one pillow is never enough. I want my head to be swallowed up in downy goodness for a comfortable slumber after a grueling day exploring the tourist traps.
          Our weekend getaways are never simple affairs. We don’t just pack the van; we rent a U-Haul, because while we’re trying to get away from it all, we tend to take it all with us. I’d load up my recliner if I thought the girls would let me. I love exploring new parts of the world as long as I can take my personal world with me. It’s also why we don’t own a compact car.
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