Women NEED stuff

I ran into a bizspouse couple today, moving out of the hotel. I commented to them that I hated to see them vacate because they were quiet and courteous with that door slamming issue. That’s my pet peeve you know.

They told me that they were traveling the country doing an employment adventure too. This would be great if “she didn’t have all this stuff!” declared the husband. He was huffing and sighing loudly as he struggled to put the last load onto the hotel luggage cart. Well, women need “stuff”! We need stuff to cook with, look pretty with and dress with of course. I could see why their dilemma was particularly annoying to him as I later observed  them piling all these items, plus their dog into a very small sedan. They were setting off from Illinois to Pennsylvania where he had secured a new position.

This scenario is not an uncommon one. Think about the epic film, The Titanic. At the beginning of the movie there is quite a lot of loading of ladies’ trunks and portable armoires of gowns and trinkets and all that other “stuff” that women needed then to look remarkable.  The typical western often showed the lovely damsel fanning herself while the stagecoach hand was wiping his brow with his grimy handkerchief, overcome with perspiration while struggling to get one more satchel atop the stagecoach.

I believe that women, since our cave woman days have probably always had more items to drag along on those across the desert or the ocean, mountain, you name it, expeditions. Men need to remember this important tidbit however.  What is it that men say when THEY need something? “Honey, where is the __________”.  Uh huh they expect us to have it of course, because then men need THEIR stuff!

Voting and Giving Blood

I think “doing the right thing” just feels good….like voting and giving blood and holding the door open for someone who is struggling to get through it or letting someone out in traffic who is hopelessly stuck. It just makes you feel good.

That’s how it should be in hotels too. You don’t know the person in the next room. You may not see them during your visit and will certainly never see them again. So what do you care if you let your door slam shut at 5:30 in the morning. If you wake them up, who cares…life is tough….

After spending more days this year in a hotel than at my home in Florida, I know firsthand just how annoying the door slamming oversight can be. But when you DO hold on to that door for two more seconds to keep it from slamming, when you DON’T bang dishes or suitcases into the wall late at night, you just might let someone sleep a few more minutes. That person may be nursing a dying child in a hospice home like our across the hall neighbor is sadly having to do. Your wall mate  may work the midnight shift and just got to sleep after a grueling night on the assembly line, making YOUR next vehicle. It only takes a few seconds to be thoughtful and make someone else’s hotel stay a bit more pleasant. After all they are paying for a night’s rest just like you. So go ahead and do the right thing without a needle prick or waiting in line at your local voting booth.

Survival List for Extended Stays, Part one.

There are a few things that are invaluable when you are going to be out of your home for an extended period of time. This applies whether you are going on a long cruise, staying with relatives or enjoying a timeshare or hotel.

The first must have is a collapsible stool. These can be purchased various places like the  Bed, Bath and Beyond stores. They are small, take up little space but can be used for many many purposes (hanging darkening curtain, sitting on to put away items in low cabinets, as a small table for drinks, storing things in high cabinet or closet shelf, as a footstool for short legged folks).

The second must have, is a roll of black electrical tape that can be purchased for under $2 and is worth its weight in (black) gold. It can be used to blot out those annoying LEDs that can add to your sleepless nights. Place a small piece over the green, red or blinking lights that come from electronic devices, smoke detectors and even the microwave oven. It can also be placed around cracks in a exit door that lets in too much security lighting. It goes on easily and comes off just as well, leaving no sticky residue.

The third item that is very helpful is Command removable hooks. They truly do live up to their advertising. They go on with little trouble and pull off by slowly pulling the tab at the bottom. The hooks can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used to hang a blanket, curtain, or comforter over an entry door that lets in too much light or smoke. This can also be a barrier against noise in the hallway or adjacent rooms. They can be used too for extra storage to hang caps, scarves, towels etc.

Being away from your usual comfortable or even NOT so comfortable surroundings can take a toll on your psyche. Humans tend to be creatures of habit, well creatures tend to be creatures of habit too but that’s another blog entry. One of the things I miss the most about living in a hotel is the lack of television options. The list of cable channels available to a spoiled TV watcher are quite limited. The schedule of the television shows that are acceptable do not often coincide with a convenient time to watch them. Satellite TV is not available nor even an option at one’s personal expense as an add on feature (benefit) to hotel residency.

But VOILA! There is a way to have your personal DVR “channeled” to your hotel room. Now I wouldn’t exactly categorize this as a survival item but it definitely has value for the long term visit. Check this out……http://www.dvrplayground.com/article/15414/Have-Slingbox–Will-Travel/

I’m going to try this. It’s cheaper than a plane ticket to fly home and catch up on your favorite shows. Stay tuned for the second part of the Survival Guide for extended stays. Be sure to forward this blog to anyone you know who may need it! I sure wish I had had this information available when I was packing.

Attitude is everything.

Going on the road for an extended length of time is the ultra “getting out of your comfort zone.” What are those comforts? They are the tried and true habits and idols that we so easily slip into.  I struggle with a little addiction to a controlled substance AKA COFFEE. Now I can’t drink any old low quality, back burner brew. No, my coffee must be fresh, made with filtered water, the best fresh grown arabica beans that money can buy. That used to mean Dunkin’ Donuts beans freshly ground and brewed in my high quality coffee maker.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a quality blend of coffee that can be purchased anywhere in the United States and brewed in a $29 hotel Mister Coffee pot can be quite a taste sensation!  I DO use filtered water but other than that…no gimmicks needed for a fine cup o’ joe.

Another example of keeping a good attitude is in not having access to a vehicle as much as I am used to. We had made the decision to only bring one instead of caravan driving across the U.S. But that means that if carpooling isn’t always available that other creative means for getting around must be sought. So….HELLO WALKING!!! The weather is gorgeous right now and there are sidewalks and bike paths nearby so it’s a great chance to get in some exercise! I had to check my attitude yesterday as I missed out on a ride that I was expecting and had some serious cabin fever. I decided a walk to the grocery store was in order. The interesting thing about grocery shopping on foot is that you no longer look at the price of the item but look at the weight….hmmmm how much do I want this item that I want to haul it back to the room? AND I figured that I could splurge on a bakery muffin and walk it off on the way home.

So with my grocery bag in one hand and my trusty cell phone in the other, I could get my groceries back to the room and catch up on news with my daughter.

The fragrant lilacs are so plentiful that they are casually trimmed and discarded.

The birds were singing, the lilacs were in full bloom and the muffin was yummy. Life is good.

People always ask me how I could leave my home to live in a hotel for months at a time. My standard answer is, “And let my husband be here without me? I can’t imagine being anywhere else?”


It’s A Wonderful Life

Being on the road for an extended time can be a wonderful life if you are with someone you really enjoy spending time with. However, your good habits can go down hill and your bad habits can really pick up speed.  There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you probably have more free time on your hands. Face it, you love not having to vacuum, clean the pool or mow your grass.  You have someone at home taking care of your house. You are enjoying the hotel benefit of “free” housekeeping, sheet washing, toilet paper roll rehanging right?  So that leaves a lot more time for you to stay in bed, watch a ton of television and likely questionable shows that others’ in your family may not approve of, if they were with you.

Being lazy is probably a default characteristic of most of us.  I know there are some overachievers out there but they aren’t likely to be reading this blog because they don’t spend excessive amounts of time on the computer. They are out jogging their five miles before their 25 push ups then early to bed.  So back to being lazy,  a hotel room is just screaming for leisure due to the fact that the focal point of the room is A BED! and because all of your life a hotel room means VACATION! What do we do on vacation? We get lazy and we eat too much. So if knowledge is power, just knowing that you will have this tendency is a great way to guard against it. Set some goals, use a timer for being on the computer, set your alarm (for a bit later) even on weekends to keep you from letting the sedentary you creep in.

You want to be fit and healthy for your family when you get back home. So make a plan to swim some laps, get out and see the local sights, take up a new hobby, meet some local people and then stick to it! You want to have “A wonderful life” at home as well as on the road.

How rare IS that parakeet?

You may have seen the emails that went around last year of “things that make you say ‘hmmmmm'”. Questions like “so how does the snow plow guy get to work?” and “how do the deer know to cross the road at the yellow sign” do make you wonder??? Well I have run across several of those myself since I’ve been in northern Illinois.  For example if your bait has to be dead in order to use it for fishing, does that mean you must bash in the little worm’s head before putting it on your hook? And if a hotel is designed primarily for sleeping (that IS why the focal point of the room is a bed right?) then why are the doors designed to bang at the deicbel level that can damage your eardrums?

Another one would be, who keeps magazines for 14 years? Then who keeps magazines for 14 years and then donates them to a thrift store?  I’m thinking that latest DIET CRAZE is a bit past its prime by now. At least we can do the research and see how it failed miserably along with the 27 other diet plans for the year 1998. I noticed that the thrift store where I’m “working” one day a week, left this little jewel in the break room instead of putting it out for a possible purchase.

Last week I was in a local pet supermarket and saw a sign for a Rare Parakeet.  I thought that was cool and wanted to see the price tag on that bird.  Wow! It was on sale! To think I could be the owner of such a valuable fowl for just $19.99! That made me say “hmmmmm”.

Here is my favorite. The sign says to keep your dog on a leash to protect it from coyotes. If a coyote is around and your dog is in danger what does that say about YOU? Don’t you think that a dog could run quite a bit faster than a human? I say if a coyote is coming out of the woods for me, my dog is on his own.  “Just meet me at the car Rover”, cause I’m sprinting for that “oh please DON’T BE LOCKED” bathroom that I saw across the walking trail.

So if you think I’m just being a Wise Guy you’re wrong…I’m being a Wise Man! generically speaking that is.

Sleeping double in a single bed.

You may be too young to remember the Barbara Mandrell song that was the inspiration for my catchy title. Okay so the hotel life isn’t quite THAT bad. We don’t have a single bed but if you are used to a king sized bed, you may find that a measly ol’ queen bed feels like a single bed.

When you are making your arrangements to have a lengthy stay on the road, accommodations can be quite tricky.  You may be a novice at it like we were or you may be boxed into what hotel your company has booked for you. If you have any control over the situation you will want to weigh the pros and cons of what is important to you. Keeping in mind cost, proximity to work location, smoking v. nonsmoking, full kitchen or just regular hotel fridge and microwave etc. Being aware of your priorities is vital.  If you simply must have a king sized bed then you want to find an extended stay hotel to accommodate that.

One of my favorite quotes is “Knowledge is power”. (Francis Bacon) If you know what lies ahead, you’d be surprised at what amenities from home you can take with you that will make your stay more comfortable.  So sleeping single OR double, getting those zzzzzs makes for a happy worker.

I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express Last Night

But I DO feel smarter anyway. I always thought those commercials were great. I haven’t seen any lately but the idea is that if you are smart enough to stay in one of their hotels, you feel smart enough to be a brain surgeon or lion tamer.

We have learned many things while doing this traveling and working routine.  How to choose the hotel for a long term stay is one of them. Extended Stay hotels offer a full kitchen and that is a real benefit so that you can prepare your own food if you desire. Even if you like eating out, it gets tiresome and expensive. If you like quiet, as in, no kids or dogs jumping on your ceiling at all hours of the day and night, you will want to be on the top floor of the hotel. There is less traffic on the top floor because some people have fire phobias and don’t want to think about jumping out the window and some people want to be close to the ground floor for the convenience of access and less stairs. We have found this to be to our advantage because we LIKE taking the several flights of  stairs for extra exercise. The elevator is always an option but if you have a room near the stairwell, you can park near that door and just plan on using the stairs and eliminate waiting for an elevator.

If you don’t like dogs or don’t want to hear them barking, choose a hotel that does not allow pets and that problem is solved. We have not found this to be an issue unless the owner leaves the dog. They are usually happy as long as the owner is with them.  If you are not a smoker, keep in mind that many hotels now are completely non smoking so if YOUR hotel permits some smoking, that draws extra smokers to your particular location.

The obvious point of proximity to the workplace and shopping is a must. It’s important to balance out the two needs. If you get a hotel very close to the office to keep driving to a minimum but your bizspouse must drive 10 miles to buy groceries, then that is not a wise choice for your hotel. Often the recruiting company has negotiated better pricing for the accommodations for their hires. If that has not been mentioned, be sure to ask. Since hotels typically have to add the “tourist tax” onto your bill, if you stay for 30 consecutive days or more then the tax is removed from your bill. You are considered to be a permanent resident and not required to pay the Hotel Occupancy Tax.  This really adds up at 12-18% depending on the state.

So you may not be a brain surgeon or a lion tamer but you too, can be smart about your hotel choice even if it isn’t a Holiday Inn Express. A little research can go a long way toward providing a comfortable stay while on the road. Happy Traveling!

Bizspouse on the road!


Hi YA Neighbor!

When you are forced to evacuate your hotel room for an ear piercing fire alarm at 3:30 a.m. all bets are off on beauty, vanity, make up and fashion.  Let’s face it. You just want it to be a bad dream and are quickly evaluating exactly what you chose to sleep in that night.

I grabbed a very long coat and scarf and my purse. I figured the coat would cover my unmatched pajamas and the scarf would help with the cold in northern Illinois at 3:30 in the morning. Also if the hotel was truly on fire, I would have my wallet. Most of us who travel much have the cynical belief that a fire alarm does NOT indicate a fire, but merely a technical glitch of the heating system or a blankety blank, not so hilarious prankster, who thinks it is quite funny to empty a hotel in the middle of a cold night.

So now the fun begins. It is rare to even see the other hotel guests. We hear their doors slam shut from time to time and see other cars in the parking lot but we don’t often pass in the hall and seldom have conversation. So as we troop down the stairwell we get to see the other disgruntled guests who are more vocal about their displeasure than we are. We were quite sure we knew who the culprits were. The rowdy, drunks with raucous laughter in our hallway for the last hour was a clue that they would find pulling the alarm tab amusing.

At the bottom of the stairs several of us wait, finding solace from the shrill sound of the alarm and still shelter from the cold outside. As I look around I can’t help noticing the differences in the evacuation dress code. There is “Amir”, so skinny in his thermal underwear and coat. The thermals hug his narrow ankles that makes his size 12 black dress shoes look even longer and pointier. I hide my smile knowing I’m no goddess myself. Then there is “Butch” with his beer belly protruding from his Chicago Bears t-shirt and walking shorts. He doesn’t seem bothered by the cold and takes his unlit cigarette outside.  My favorite though is “Eloise”, perfectly coiffed, though agitated, looking like she could apply some lipstick and step out for church.

If we could have deemed those 3 husky firemen who trooped through the stairwell with their own fine fashion statement of yellow coats, boots and helmets judges, surely they would have given the prettiest evacuee prize to Eloise.  From now on, only matching pjs for me! Oh and yes indeed the fire alarm was caused by the rowdy drunks that thought it was funny to pull the alarm tab. Now why don’t hotels have that spewing ink on them like high schools…THAT would be a new fashion statement.

Keep your duct tape, it’s electrical I need!

Hotel rooms are notorious for excessive light! I mean who can sleep with all those red and green LED lights flashing? It’s like setting up camp in the center of a lit Christmas tree. There’s also the beaming light from the hallway security lights, the parking lot street lights and let’s not forget the neon Booty Call Lounge sign flashing next door. Do we have room darkening curtains? Yes, of course and they would work great if there wasn’t a 2 inch gap at the bottom and a 6 inch space between the wall and the rod at the top.

So to remedy the problem, after filling the gap at the top with excess clothes that don’t fit in our three drawers, electrical tape comes to the rescue. You know, the black tape that doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves.  It’s perfect for the job.  It doesn’t leave a sticky residue. It can be removed and reapplied  from the trouble spots daily, it’s cheap, easy to acquire and can be easily cut to fit.

Now I know there will be detractors who say that covering the green blinking light from the carbon monoxide detector or smoke detector (whose light shines out like a one eyed monster and gets brighter from midnight till 4 a.m.) is not a good idea but honestly, I sleep with a very smart engineer who says it’s safe. Think of the possibilities: microwave and stove digital clocks, computers, phones and on and on.  It’s no wonder we are all sleep deprived!

So go ahead, get out that electrical tape and scissors and get busy. You will have a good night’s sleep tonight!