A Few Shocking Things About Hotels

Not that I’m trying to put you off staying  in a hotel ‘ever again’ but….

It’s always good to know what you might be up against, surely!

Prepare to cringe.

Not all hotels change the sheets for new guests: “For Sheets Sake…..”    @InsideEdition

Bodily fluids lurking in hotel carpets: 14 Truths About Hotel Rooms You Should Know Before Your Next Trip.

Fowl play on hotel reviews: The Truth About Hotel Booking Site Deleting Reviews

Hotel Horrors: 15 Horror Stories About Working In Hotels That’ll Make You Gag

Traumatic hotel experiences: Travellers reveal their hotel horror stories

Awful: Hotel Horror Stories

10 Disturbing facts about hotel rooms: http://listverse.com/2013/12/21/10-facts-about-hotels-that-will-destroy-your-peace-of-mind/

Mind your head: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brit-couples-25000-dream-wedding-9778261?platform=hootsuite

Held hostage by cyber kidnappers: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4163886/Alpine-hotel-brings-locks-cyber-hacking.html

Now I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything on the scale of the above to my knowledge, thankfully. I think the most horrific thing I’ve encountered was a menacing giant cockroach on a hotel balcony late at night – I ‘sprintedback into the room (nearly leaving my flip flops behind) trying to slide the door shut as the cockroach was speeding toward the gap in the door, I didn’t know they could move so flippin’ fast. My heart was pounding. I won though! …and that balcony door remained tightly shut until the next morning.

Don’t get me wrong, its common to see cockroaches in hot tropical destinations, but this was the first time I’d ever felt pursued by one, and if it had made it into the room goodness knows where it might have ended up!!

Earlier that day at the same hotel, the onsite electrician suggested we boil our kettle using the plug socket in the bathroom – alternatively, heavily overload an adapter to one socket in the room – as a more suitable socket in the room failed to work. Needless to say, we complained about this (and due to a few other poor customer service related issues) we left after only one of ten nights and transferred to another hotel, receiving the full refund we requested without a cancellation charge. I guess this was more of a ‘health & safety’ category of hotel horrors.

I’m curious to hear some of your own ‘hotel horror stories’ so feel free to share below.

There may be trouble ahead…….🎵 🎶

Advertisements

Avoid Getting Robbed On Holiday

padlock-597495_1920

In addition to Being a Chameleon Abroad here are a few tips to help you avoid being a victim of theft on holiday (and at home):

  1. If you must take expensive items out with you, try to make them appear broken or damaged. Stick some tape around parts of your gadgets,  (e.g. parcel tape on your iPad).
  2. If you are in very unfamiliar territory, where gadgets are not the norm, just stick with your phone.
  3. Only use cash points (ATM’s) inside banks.
  4. Don’t keep all your cash (notes) in one place, spread it between different pockets or zips or whatever so you don’t look too ‘rich’ when counting money out to pay for things.
  5. Leave valuable jewellery at home.
    jewels-396441_640
    Treasure…..that is what you are….. sing along!
  6. In hotels, hang your clothes in clothes carriers to avoid prying housekeeping eyes.
  7. Don’t draw attention to where you’ve hidden valuable items by being overly protective (gripping tightly or constantly checking and rechecking to see if they are there), anyone looking will be convinced you have something of high value if you keep on behaving like this.
  8. Don’t go off and leave valuables in the boot of a car.
  9. Clothing with hidden pockets  – very helpful.
    magnifying-glass-1293096_640
    Hidden in plain sight
  10. Visible bum bags – not so helpful as they scream out ‘there’s money in here , that’s why I’m carrying this bag’ 

    alphabet-word-images-1293164_640
    Shout it from the roof tops why dontcha’
  11. Only book hotel rooms with a safe in the room. Surprisingly, in this new millennium there are still hotels that offer no safe in your room. Don’t carry all your cash and  valuables around with you – use your room safe or find somewhere in your luggage to hide cash.
  12. Do your research before hand to try and ‘suss out’ what legitimate police officer’s wear etc..as opposed to fake police. free-cool-policeman-clip-art-mhhxyk-clipart
  13. Try not to appear vulnerable (anxious/confused) even if you are, a confident walk and manner will less likely attract thieves.
    freedom-1431380_640
    Though this might be taking it a bit too far…
  14. Dress down when checking into a hotel, you are less likely to be targeted for an inside job if you don’t appear to exude wealth.
    glamour-collection-ab-crystal-wedding-jewellery-crystal-bridal-b2ksev-clipart
    Tone it down a bit…
  15. Check whether your hotel room safe opens with the default 00000 or 1234 after you have already set your own code.
    magic-25744_640
    As if by magic…
  16. Ring the alarm

    SAM_1621
    These travel alarms are great for hotel doors and windows at night
  17. Carry a dummy purse/wallet with just a small amount of cash – whilst stashing the rest somewhere a little more discreet. If you have to hand over your ‘dummy’ you won’t loose much.
    purse-115126_640
    Fake it

I know you probably know lots of other useful tips, so do feel free to share them as you can never be too savvy these days!

Sleep, Sit, Lean and Read on it!

As with everything, I usually spend quite a lot of time shopping around, and reading reviews before making a purchase.

This particular travel pillow seems to be relatively low cost (on Amazon),  though  they cost a bit more on Ebay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This pillow looked thicker and more deeply cushioned than a lot of others I skimmed online.

It turned out to be a very good choice,  my only intention was to put it round my neck for napping during long distance travel.

I actually ended up using the pillow in the following ways:

  • Around my neck to take a nap – I could lean left or right with it snuggly in the nook of my neck for firm comfort. No neck ache so far!

  • As a cushion – the pillow foam is firm enough to sit on for extra comfort during transit.

  • As support for my back – sometimes I just want to straighten up a bit in my seat – I put the pillow into the small of my back, and felt a big difference.

  • As a book/magazine rest whilst reading – by placing the cushion on my lap.

I have unzipped/removed the cover and washed it on a 40 degree cycle – no problems there.

I’d definitely recommend it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

20 Enriching Things Worth Doing Whilst On Holiday

 

  1. Go on organised excursions to learn more about your destination, stretch beyond the limits of your resort.
  2. If you have a room with a view, order a meal to your room and eat out on the balcony.
  3. Keep a journal of your travels, thoughts, experiences to reflect back on in the future.
    stocksnap_d25oznlfi2

    Keep a journal
  4. Get up early to watch/photograph the sunrise and appreciate the area you are in,  before the hustle and bustle begins.
  5. Buy your souvenirs from local people, street sellers etc rather than big store chains – give back to the needier local people rather than already flourishing businesses.
  6. Eat in small locally run restaurants.
  7. Purposefully try new foods and drinks.
    sam_0328Soursop juice
  8. Try a new activity, step out of your comfort zone.
  9. If you drive, hire a car and explore.
  10. Hire a driver to give you a customised day tour.
  11. Go out and explore using local public transport, see how the other half live, try and blend in to experience it more. 
  12. Schedule in days to just lounge around, read a book, people watch, basically rest.
  13. Go for a long walk, explore your surroundings at your leisure.
  14. Talk to locals, learn about their culture and how they live, their insight is better than any guide book and will leave them feeling somewhat valued rather than overlooked by tourists.
  15. Buy a local newspaper and immerse yourself.
  16. Leave a surprise gift/thank you card for your housekeeping staff.
  17. Wherever you happen to be, make an effort to watch the sunsets.
  18. Make time to reflect on what you have left behind at home and any changes to work on when you return.
  19. Try and come away knowing at least a couple of key pieces of history about the country or place you are staying in.
  20. Remember how fortunate you are to be able to fly across the world to be on that beach, in that city, on that hillside, walking through that village etc, while many of the local people around you might only dream of doing this one day. Travel makes you humble, if your heart is right. sam_0422Click here for Bloglovin’ link

‘Twas The night before the flight

This is when it finally sinks in that you are about to jet off somewhere – no more thinking about it, no more pondering over how many weeks or days left to go – its tomorrow!! traffic-light-1024768_640

Spend this night the right way and you will feel relaxed, and ready for you flight the next day, with little or no stress.

relax-955798_640

By the ‘night before’ you will of course already done the following 10 things:

1. Finished packing, yes ‘finished’

30391616206_eda593f3e5_n
I never write my address on tags, just a contact number and email address

2. Gathered all you passport, ticket and related travel documents together in one place (and you will have emailed copies to yourself as back up)

3. Organised your transport to the airport

4. Made any necessary arrangements with your neighbours

stocksnap_52dnu547oz5. Used up all the food that will go off/rot while you’re away strawberries-fruits-fruit-red

6. Given the house a good clean and tidy  – so you can relax in it when you return. Coming back to a clean tidy home after a long flight is a very warm welcome indeed, so try and get as much tidying up and laundry done, wash any stray dishes, put fresh bedding on your beds and make them up nicely, fluff up the cushions etc etc…

pexels-photo-90319

7. Switched off/unplugged whatever needs it (well this can wait until the night before)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

8. Set your security alarms/timers

9. Sorted out any roaming packages with your mobile phone company (if need be) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

10. Gone over the list you prepared weeks/months earlier to make sure everything is crossed off

My usual preference is to stay in an airport hotel, especially if I’m catching a morning flight the next day.

Why?

1. I get a decent night’s sleep instead of dragging myself up at some dispicable hour of the morning to travel to the airport.

file8431347703160Sleep easy

2. I have greater peace of mind. Knowing I’m already in the airport when I wake up and all I need to think about is check-in and breakfast. (I recently tried a Nando’s breakfast for the first time, it wasn’t bad).

3. The night before is a far better time to get stuck in traffic, forget something and have to return home for it, get lost, get delayed, get diverted due to road works etc.

 

SAM_0022.JPG
Sofitel Hotel, very comfy beds!

Remember to take photographs of each piece of luggage ( in case of loss, to help with identification – hopefully this won’t be needed but you never know). Brightly coloured or distinctive features on luggage make it easier to identify, as opposed to ‘just black’ – though I admit I prefer black luggage because it avoids scuffs, marks and scratches showing up easily. 

Unless you are away for more than month, you might want to consider ordering an online grocery shop to arrive the day you get home or day after  (or order online while you are away) – allowing enough time for your journey from the airport. Going out and doing a food shop is probably the last thing you’ll want to do when you get back! file0001745671972

glass-disco-night-studio81-45262

May the night before your flight, be an absolute delight!!

Click here for Bloglovin’ link

15 Holiday Money Saving Tips

1. DIY Package

Don’t assume a package deal is cheaper. Tailor making your own package  – handpicking hotels and flights can work out a heck of a lot cheaper, especially with multi centre style holidays. Also, do you really want to be stuck in one hotel for your entire trip? Get more out of your experience by staying in two or three hotels in different parts of your destination.  Opt for self catering hotels or smaller guest houses for a few nights alongside a few nights in a 5*.

Do a hotel only search and flight only search to get best prices for each, then you can match up the cheapest for a good deal.

Shop around different travel agents and get them to do some research for you – sometimes the literally pull a rabbit out of the hat!

Some travel agents will happily pull the package together for you (from a variety of airlines and hotels) if you don’t want to have to book all the components separately yourself.

vw-camper-336606_640Source

2. New Hotels

Here lies much potential for discounted room rates and special treatment to help boost the reputation and publicity of the hotel through the first batch of guests.

3. What a Difference a Day Makes!

Scour flights to each of your chosen destination with a fine tooth comb. The same flight a few days later can be half the price or less in some cases. This persistence has seen me bag flights that would normally be over £1000 for a mere £500. If you’re flexible and booking well in advance, apply this principle to different months as well.

Apparently, flight prices are often lower when booked in the afternoon!

Friday-Monday flights tend to be more expensive, but not always.

4. Avoidance Tactics

If you can, steer clear of the school holidays (and US Spring break).

No brainer. Low season is always cheaper.

5. Eat Where The Locals Eat

This is likely to be better value for money than the hundreds of pounds extra  you pay for ‘all inclusive’ food that you can only eat ‘so much of’ in any one sitting.

6. Give the Hotel Shop a Miss

Well, at least until the end of your holiday. Spend time shopping in local areas, markets and street vendors before splashing out on (often grossly) overpriced hotel shopping. Buying from locals is also more helpful to local communities.

7. Eat Out

Eating out in local eateries is usually cheaper than the difference you pay for an all inclusive package. How much food can one person eat anyway…..unlimited mountains of food isn’t really all it seems, plus you get to experience the destination, culture and people in a more authentic way by eating from locally owned businesses, step into their world why don’t you! Obviously do your research before hand and find out what restaurants etc will be in the vicinity of your chosen hotels (start with Google maps). If your’e out in sticks somewhere then I’d probably stick with the all inclusive option.

8. Taxi

Ask around about excursion organisers and prices. Often, a hotel taxi will be cheaper than a pre-booked trip, and much more tailor made to suit you. Local people often know of the cheaper excursion organisers – remember, everything is usually overpriced when bought or paid for via a hotel.

9. Plan Ahead

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of spontaneity, but if you have a rough idea of some of the key sights you want to see and excursions to go on you’ll be in a better position to start sourcing the best deals/tour guides etc. when you land.

10. Shop Around

Particularly in markets, don’t buy the first desirable item you see (unless you’re in a hurry), the likelihood is that another ten stalls will be selling the same item and one or more of them will be cheaper.

11. Be Sure To Insure

For obvious reasons.

Annual cover is always far cheaper than single trip cover if you take more than one holiday per year.

Thatched huts in a Mexican resort

12. Read All About It

If you’re a book lover, but not to fussy about what you read, pick up a book from the hotel library rather than buying new works of fiction for the beach. Most hotels will have a collection of books that previous guests have left behind.

13. Luxury Luggage

Don’t feel obliged to splash out on expensive luggage (unless of course this is of paramount importance to you). It will likely end up scraped and thrashed around by baggage handlers anyway.

14. Give Yourself Some Credit

We’ve all heard about credit cards that help you build air miles – well if you’re a frequent flyer it might be worth looking into.

15. All Inclusive. Well Not Always!

Be clear about whether all the drinks in your room fridge are included in your payment to avoid any nasty surprises upon checking out.

Plus…

Avoid making frequent cash withdrawals abroad to avoid charges.

 

Click here for Bloglovin’ link

How To Be A Chameleon Abroad

Whilst on holiday, you may not always want to ‘shine bright like a tourist’

owl-964011_640

Why?

There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Wanting to absorb the people and culture in the most authentic way possible
  • Not wanting to be a walking target for theft
  • Not wanting to offend the locals
  • Not wanting to be pounced upon by curious locals or tourists

Much of how you ‘choose to blend’ will depend on the destination you are in.

A photo by Cory Schadt. unsplash.com/photos/Hhcn6yy3Uo8

General tips for a ‘blending-in day’:

  1. Leave your backpack in the hotel and opt for something more ‘every day’.
  2. Trainers and sports wear should be reserved for the gym unless the locals generally dress sporty, and give five inch heels a miss.
  3. Those of us who don’t live in the tropics, relish the opportunity to dress for the heat, but the locals often cover up more.
  4. Don’t wear anything fancy and outlandish, or that screams out ‘designer brand’ (unless that’s the order of the day where you are). Furthermore, its a bit insensitive to be flashy when (in some cases) one designer item might cost more than the local villager makes to feed their family each month. At worst, your display of wealth can evoke feelings of resentment from locals, as well as a red flag to would be thieves.
  5. As boring as this might sound, the less colourful your clothes, the more you tend to blend in and go unnoticed  – anywhere.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    I spotted this at a flea market in Tobago #howtogetnoticed
  6. Watch vlogs and read blogs/reviews before you go, paying close attention to how locals look and behave out and about in footage and photographs.
  7. Leave your selfie sticks, GoPros and giant SLR lenses in the hotel, just make do with a small compact camera or phone. Don’t keep your camera dangling off you the entire time you’re out – put it away, try to be subtle. photographer-1029391_640 Source
  8. Buy a couple of outfits from where the locals go shopping.
  9. Get to know your money, i.e. what coin is what. 2862362402_46c2e6190c_mSource
  10. Never stop and stand in the middle of a public place looking lost or confused – always look purposeful, composed and relaxed.  Smile through your confusion. If you lose your bearings, find somewhere to sit (cafe) or stand on the side somewhere and style it out until you work out where you’re going without drawing attention to yourself. (You could also just quietly ask a local). boardwalk-1209671_640
  11. Keep jewellery to a minimum – no brainer.
  12. If you are wearing a hotel wristband, try to disguise it with a watch, sweat band, bangle etc…
  13. If the language isn’t English. learn a few useful phrases and greetings
  14. Avoid using hand gestures; many that we take for granted at home are considered offensive in other cultures.
  15. Accents are a give away, so if you’re naturally loud, you might want to lower your voice. A western accent can be like a red flag to a bull for would be thieves and scammers – who will assume you are wealthy.
  16. Going to a foreign country without bothering to find out anything about it beforehand is an insult to that country. Make sure you familiarise yourself with customs, manners and behaviours so that you can adapt, and at worst, avoid breaking some unknown law. For example, it is illegal to wear anything in the name of fashion with an ‘army print’ in Tobago – you will be arrested. Ignorance is not an excuse and nor is it bliss in this case.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Get to know your destination before you get there, the internet is overflowing with free info, as well as countless travel guides you can buy
  17. Avoid pointing, gasps and expressions of shock and awe every time you look at something.
  18. Don’t wear a bum bag.

The above points are not suggested rules – just tips for those times when you decide you want to try and blend in as much as possible – which may be never, depending on where you are and how you feel.

sea-beach-sand-sun-large