Things you wish you’d asked about before banging the door shut


1194572625I guess you could say that I’m not a happy traveler. I much prefer staying at home where there are no surprises to horrify me, especially at the end of a long day.

But it’s not to be, and travel I must.

To perform my music, to speak at conferences, to visit friends and to see family. I’m most often at hotels or airbnbs unless I’m with my son, whose house is not included in this tale.

So I’ve made a sort of check list of items I need to be sure of in strange and mysterious places before I;

  1. Sit on the potty
  2. Get into the shower
  3. Get into bed

The Potty
Make sure you know where the flush is located and how to operate it before you begin doing your job. It’s very irritating to have to hunt for it when you’re all done, ready run. Instead you end up in a blind panic with no one to call on for help, wishing you could say, ‘Mommy, I’m done.’

Find out in advance if it’s a flush you have to pull up or push down.

There are flushes with levers that you have to lightly bear down on, and will break off if you get aggressive.

Some are touch sensitive and you have to wave your hand in front, but it takes a few seconds before the mechanism kicks in, so you need to be patient and have a little faith that it’s going to work. I’m just saying, since I’ve taken my hand away before the sensor felt the heat or whatever, only to realize that I had to do it all over again. This is very frustrating.

Some flushes don’t need any help from you at all, and will gush forth right while you’re in the middle of something important. Very disconcerting. I’m always worried about backsplash.

My friend Linda Weinstein in New York has a toilet seat that looks like a pilot’s panel on an aircraft. It’s so sophisticated and cool and worldly that I’ve never summoned up the courage to ask how the bloody thing works. Her husband is Japanese and apparently it’s very common in Tokyo.

I just hold it in when I visit her.

The Shower
The number of times I’ve joyously flung all my clothes off in a hotel room and dashed into the shower to preempt the air conditioning from turning my delicates into ice cubes, only to find that I don’t know how to turn the shower on.

Everyone knows that you turn the dial to the left for hot water and to the right for cold, and somewhere in the middle is the ideal temperature for a luxurious shower, one where the water doesn’t run cold because posh hotels have limitless hot water.

But what happens when you’ve taken off your glasses, are technically naked and blind and faced with either a befuddling bunch of dials or buttons or levers?

You could jab frantically at anything and everything, screaming your head off, but that doesn’t really get you clean.

It’s a good idea to put aside your self image, your personal posh if you will, and humbly ask someone how things work while you still have your wits about you.

While you’re at it, check out how they’ve laid out the soap, shampoo and conditioner, maybe the hairdryer as well

The Bed
Find out how all the lights get turned off before you’ve gotten into your wispy (alternatively, wussy) night things.

I find that one’s self worth takes licking when you have to ask some young know-it-all how to switch off the lights, turn the TV on, what channels they provide, or where to find the key to the minibar (some hotels still lock them, defeating the very purpose of the spur-of-the-moment purchase), even if you’re respectable in a hotel-provided bathrobe.

Locate the hotel’s phone and place yours where you’re sure you can find it in the middle of the night.

Plot your path to the bathroom and make a few dry runs in the dark before falling asleep.
It’s no fun to sock it to a hard corner with your big toe while you’re desperately making a dash for the loo.

All in all, I much prefer to do my adventure travel on Discovery or Nat Geo, and like my own bed most of all.


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