Shared Spaces

Accommodation types have exploded to house the swelling number of travelers in recent times.  From the major hotel chains of yesteryear to the economy inn, we have seen an influx of a variety of lodges that cater not only to the rich or middle class but to the budget traveler too.  One such boarder type is the hostel.  This housing brand caters mostly to a younger market, and those young at heart guests who prefer the ambiance and lifestyle. One that can be considered fun, easy, relaxed, and shared.  Don’t get the wrong idea, hostels are efficiently managed and have clear guidelines, but for the most part, the aura is inviting, warm and friendly.   For this post, I want to talk about shared spaces in hostels such as:  lounge areas, bathrooms, kitchen and sleeping quarters.  Of course, all that I will mention hereafter is based on my own experience, so as not to paint all hostels with a broad brush.

First the lounge areas are typically the hangout spots.  Guests gather there to socialize and talk of their adventures.  Friendships are made and travel tips are exchanged.  A simple decor usually gives the area an inviting and comfortable appeal.  Bean bag chairs and extra-large cushions, hammocks, lounge chairs, large mats, shelves of travel books either left by former patrons and other material lends to the aura there.  A big giveaway that you’re in the right place are young people huddled with backpacks or rolled up travel gear, power charging their technology.  Generally speaking, it is the meeting place for individuals, large groups and parties for meet and greets.  The front desk is set very near to this area if only to keep a vigilant eye on the activities there.

Next, the kitchen offers the independent wayfarer the opportunity to prepare a cooked meal whether breakfast or dinner (most guests are out and about at lunchtime).  On a first come first served basis, pots, dinnerware, stove and refrigerator are available for use.  Even leftover foodstuff, primarily basics like salt, cooking oil, sugar, etc., from past guests are at the disposal of any brave guests to use.  A code of honesty is understood by those kitchen operators.  I have never seen or heard of discrepancies regarding individual food stock.  Items are clearly labeled and rules for usage and disposal adhered to.  Kitchen clean up after use is mandatory.  Hostel management usually provides janitorial services throughout their establishment.  However, messy cooks are encouraged to leave a clean kitchen for other users.  Reminder “clean-up” signs are posted in this area and all other public places too.

Bathrooms present the most irritant for travelers.  Although cleansed daily, the showers and toilets are dependent on users to help the facility keep them clean.  In the past, if I shared a bathroom, I would rise very early in the morning before other guests to ensure I benefited from a clean shower stall.  I skive the thought of someone else’s bath-water pooling around my feet in a stall that may have poor or slow drainage.  Besides toilet tissue, hostels do not provide towels or other toiletries as most hotels do.

Sleeping quarters can be the toughest aspect of the whole hostel experience.  If a single room is not available, then sharing a space with four or more persons is the only option.  Some hostels offer dorm like settings, sleeping up to 20 persons in one large room.  Obviously, if you elect to sleep in such a space, it is expected you will not have much complaints for comfort, space or noise level.  For example, chatter, laughter, movement in and out, lights on and off, can disrupt the early sleeper.  Normally, each person is assigned a bed, given clean bedding and those on the bottom bunk have a curtain for privacy.  You may not rest your personal belongings on another’s bed and vice-versa.  It is not advisable to leave valuables in this particular space either (deposit at reception for safe keeping) since security cameras are not operating here.  Curfew times for lights out are maintained to give everyone at least a few hours rest each night.

Community Peeps, though hostels are fun places to meet other like-minded travelers, their success also depends on vacationers doing their part to maintaining a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.  I’ve gained travel friends and have had some of my best adventures staying in them on my limited budget.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  What has been your experience staying in one?  Please share in the comment box below.

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Accommodation Types

These days there is no shortage of options when one considers where they will lodge during their holiday.  Once upon a time, the main housing choice were hotels, but not anymore.  Hotels had three main categories: budget, deluxe and luxury.  Well, times have changed, and the options have become more prolific.  Hotels still serve up the majority of rooms to the public, but based on the purview of the millennial traveler, other entities have become more interesting, affordable and readily available.

Hotel types range from capsule to boutique, from motel to bed and breakfast, from resorts to luxury estates.   Each offer varying nuances that may appeal to the occupant’s taste, desires and needs.  It is interesting to note that within the last 20 or more years the rise of room availability includes, but are not limited to entities such as:  AirBnB’s, Couch-surfing, House-sitting, and Glamping just to name a few.  For the adventurous traveler, these accommodation types are worth exploring.

My travels have taken me far and wide and even though my friends tell me when it comes to sleeping that I can sleep on a rock, I can still remember experiences where the  accommodations were unique.  I recall staying and enjoying the amenities of a traditional riad in the old city of Fez, Morocco.  Entering the riad through the heavy doors from the street, I was surprised to find intricate artistry, delicate stonework, carpentry, and arboretum that could keep one intrigued for the length of their stay.  The layout included an interior oasis of greenery, sculptures, and fountain.  Artifacts, whether old or new lined the perimeter.  The posh riad had two upper levels and my room was on the very top.  Even from that height, looking down below, the beauty of the residence was not lost, especially as the evening light cast soft shadows across the floor, in subduing and romantic hues.

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Another interesting sleep-away was in the Merzouga dessert.   After riding on the desert limousine (camel) for about an hour, we arrived at a U-shaped group of Berber tents, covered in what looked like blankets.  It was to be my sleeping quarters for the night and even though I was skeptical that I wouldn’t sleep a wink, I fell asleep in no time at all.  The blankets were the warmest everrrrr, and I didn’t want to move from under them in the morning.  The accommodation was basic.  Shoes had to be taken off at the tent doors to avoid trekking sand onto the rug covered floor.   Bundles of mats, blankets and pillows were heaped to one side of the tent. Candles were the only light in the pitch darkness, but it was cozy.  After eating a sumptuous tagine meal, I asked to use the bathroom thinking their must be one in one of the other tents, the guide pointed out to the sandy landscape and told me to pick any spot.  Their one caveat for the group requesting bathroom privileges, was to walk a distance away from the tents to do their business.  Well, one thing I learned is, when you are all in it together, you either overcome the shyness, or you quickly forget your bathroom longings until better facilities are available.  After a night of peaceful serenity,  at the crack of dawn we headed back to civilization.  One of the first request on everybody’s list was a bathroom break.  Albeit the inconveniences of the accommodation, it was one of the sweetest sleeps I had while on vacation.


Goreme, Cappadocia – Hotel in Turkey – Traveltineraries

One other type of odd accommodation that I experienced was in Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey.  The hotel was a cave.  The walls of the room were the natural rock, as were many of the houses in the area.   The room was cool and comfortable.  Not very large but the bed was comfy.  Stories on the dangers of inhaling the microscopic dust that falls from the rock was not a deterrent for my stay which was not very long.  Besides, this form of housing is still used by the local residents today.   It was a unique experience sleeping at the cave hotel.

Besides hotels and hostels, there are AirBnb residences.  They give that home away from home feeling.  The guest is not limited to just one room.  The amenities are broader and there is freer access to coming and going without interference.  Couch-surfing is another option one may consider, especially the overnighter or cash-strapped traveler.  It’s level of uncertainty and possibly inconvenience can be a put-off for the tripper who wants to explore and may find their only accommodation far from the action they intended to experience.  Glamping on the other hand is a glorified or luxury form of camping.  These different types of lodgings are by and large stimulating and intriguing to the explorer traveler.

Other respites I’ve enjoyed include a penthouse in Caracas, Venezuela, luxury hotel rooms in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, India, more recently a luxury suite in Denpasar, Bali, and in other places where the US dollar is worth its weight in gold.  Choosing where to rest one’s weary head may be first driven by cost, preference or package.  Whatever the choice, the options are always increasing, and the hospitality industry planners are always working to accommodate their guests.

Community Peeps, please share with me some of the interesting accommodations you’ve had and what made them special to you.  As an itinerary planner, I am always searching for unique, interesting and affordable places to stay and to recommend.  You may write your experience (recent or eons ago) in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

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Comments Matter

Itinerary planning can be an involved and consuming process when plotting vacation activities, a customer may request.  You know, the kind of holiday they would want to talk about and comment on for the rest of their life.  The one that meets their needs, covers all the bases and scores a home-run in terms of fun and excitement.  A bespoke itinerary requires lots of research and double-checking.  The planner many times goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the agenda is doable, affordable and possible.  While man hours are clocked, it behooves the planner to ensure the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed for a happy client.  No stone is left turned just to satisfy the patron.

The astute planner knows the voice of satisfaction gives much impetus to future referrals.  By the same token, a dissatisfied customer affects future referrals or a lack thereof with a negative impact. The traveler’s opinion and satisfaction can cast a ripple effect far and wide to other travelers seeking information on particular subjects related to their travels.  For example, every time I travel to a foreign country, I check the reports of others.  Their tell-all experience at hotels/hostels/Airbnb’s, and selecting tour operator/agencies, whether true or lie help to shape my decision.  Not a few are reviewed, until I am satisfied and can make a more educated decision.   Once I begin to scout opinions, experiences, and references, the search may reveal general commonalities among the many reports.

What am I looking for specifically, you might ask?   A vote of confidence, a cohesive review, a recent testimonial, and/or clear warning signs.  Common sense should prevail.   Some grievances may be taken with a grain of salt (one’s subjective experience may not be another’s), but glaring violations should be heeded.  I still believe the adage, “where there is smoke, there is fire.”  Comments usually have a measure of truth to them.

For every planned destination, I peruse the comments section in travel forums and chat sites, of surveyed guests, or read columns of gurus, who for a living commentate on subject matter relevant to my interests, and just to get an idea or bearing on a place, activity or accommodation.  Customer comments carry much weight and can help or hinder a business’s progress.  In the past, I have received after every travel, surveys, seeking my honest opinion of my experience or stay at the hotel.  Whether the survey is given during a tour or taken after, the client’s comments have the power to positively or negatively impact the business.

Public accounts or travel sites that posts acknowledgements of grievances with a positive response to fix, to make better or even to look into the customer’s complaint, proactively deflects further negative comments, at least for a while, and may still elicit the interest of itinerary speculators such as myself.  Wherever I go on my travels and whenever I am surveyed, my responses are always honest and straightforward, but never unkind.  Comments matter and are a useful tool to effect change.  Therefore, one should always be keen on adding their two-cents for a better outcome.

Community Peeps, how much weight do you put into the research comments you read before travel, or your survey responses after travel?  Never surveyed?  Or, surveyed but never got any feedback on action taken?  How about sharing your experiences here and now?   Let me know your thoughts on the subject.  Post your comment in the box below.

As usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Thanks for reading.

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