The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How working in a hotel is preparing me for world travel

Traveling around the world for over a year is bound to have its fair share of challenges and frustrations. That is what's so exciting about it. Trying to deal with customs and cancelled flights for a two week vacation to a resort in Mexico is highly stressful as you are very limited on time. A canceled flight on a year long trip is merely an opportunity to stretch your coping muscles and to see just what kind of traveler you are and how you handle such circumstances.

I feel I have a fairly good background in being able to handle whatever this trip throws at me because of my work in a hotel as a bellman. So here it is, my top five reasons working in a hotel is preparing me for world travel.

5. Understanding the staff - So many times people rarely see or even attempt to understand the sorts of things that the staff in hotels and hostels have to do. All it takes is one "ugly tourist" to ruin their day. The best staffers do not show this frustration to other guests, but it isn't hard to see the look some have when they're being screamed at for something completely out of their control. "Why yes, I completely understand sir. I do apologize that we didn't delay the snowstorm until you had left. That is completely our fault. And yes, I do apologize that the sun comes up in the east and shines into your room. I will be sure to put a big sign in the room after today instructing others how to close curtains." What will I take from this? I pledge to be the most courteous and understanding guest they meet.

4. Cardio. Lots and lots of Cardio - My job at the hotel requires me to run all over the place all day long. Delivering room services, lugging luggage from one room to another, etc etc. If I wasn't in shape before, I certainly am now. What will I take from this? As any backpacker probably knows, walking will be one of your primary modes of transportation. Best to get in shape now.

3. Patience - I cannot begin to count how many times I have taken a room service up to a room and have to either wait because a)the guest is in the shower; b)the guest left the room; or c)the guest can't find their wallet and/or their money. Stand, smile, look pretty. . . and refrain from looking at your watch. Sounds like what consulates and embassies will be like. And border crossings. And airports. And train stations.

2. Think before you speak; Act before you complain - The world is NOT perfect and I will not expect a little hotel/hostel room to be perfect either. That being said though, I will not call down to complain about something before first exhausting all other avenues. TV not working? Maybe I'll check to make sure it's unplugged first. I really don't want to be the one that the staff silently laughs at because I couldn't be bothered to get up off my butt to check the power cord. I will be a guest somewhere for 14 months, I would rather not unnecessarily offend anyone, or make a complete jackass out of myself over something that a little common sense or pre-thinking would have prevented.

1. The ability to make friends with complete strangers - The biggest advantage I have from working in a hotel? The huge amount of people from different countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds that I get an opportunity to meet every single day. I have to make a great first impression and that usually translates into becoming short term friends. This skill will really help when I'm first arriving in a country and need someone I can talk to and be friends with right away.

Moral of the story - Be courteous to the staff, don't be an "ugly tourist" and do lots of cardio. That's for any trip. . . not just a year long one.


  1. Love all the tips! I have really been trying to do as much cardio and get in shape as I can before we leave. I don't want to be limited by my body- I want to feel confident climbing a mountain, swimming against a current and whatever else might come our way.
    I also think that people who work in a customer service type of job are usually more respectful in those types of situations... maybe we've all been there-so we know how to treat others.

  2. Some hostels will allow guests to work in exchange for a discount or even a night's stay.

    Buzios Pousadas