I have traveled, for both business and pleasure, for decades. I have traveled extensively throughout my native state of Florida, in all 50 states in the U.S.A., and in many places internationally. Over the years, I have developed a keen understanding of the types of accommodations where I like to stay, when possible. I include the mention of “when possible” to account for the numerous occasions when I am working in a small town with only one place to stay. Typically, however, there are often many types of accommodations to suit every budget: (1) locally owned, “mom and pop” motels; (2) locally owned, family operated bed and breakfasts (B & Bs); (3) historic inns and hotels, of various sizes; (4) large chain motels; (5) large chain hotels, of all price points; (6) large scale resorts, with all of the amenities; (7) campgrounds and RV parks; (8) hostels; and others. When I have the freedom to choose where to stay among all of the options available in the place where I am working or visiting, I prefer a large, full service hotel over other types of accommodations. I used to think I should like B & Bs and other small, family owned inns, however, I learned long ago that I dislike communal dining experiences, nosy inquiries of proprietors, and other overly cozy aspects of these types of places. Instead, I prefer the convenience (such as 24 hour room service!) and anonymity of a large hotel. I intensely dislike the forced idle chit chat that often takes place at B & Bs and small inns. When asked one too many personal questions, I tend to react like Robert DeNiro in “Taxi Driver,” who famously said, “You talking to me?”. There is nothing wrong with small B & Bs and inns, just as there is nothing perfect about large hotels; it is merely a matter of personal preference for every traveler to choose the type of accommodation where he/she would like to stay. The main point of this post is to know what type of traveler you are and based on this self knowledge, choose the type of accommodation where you can be comfortable being who you are.
When I did the backpacking thing in Europe (and Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and more) after a year of grad school “down under,” I found myself in many youth hostels, with many varied types of accommodations. These included open air co-ed bunk beds in Fiji, to double rooms in Paris and Madrid – with bathrooms down the hall – where the hot water cost extra. And, in most instances, these experiences were not bad – but I would never repeat them. I’m definitely beyond youth hostels. And, while I’m a little more adventurous than Melissa, who thinks camping is staying at a Holiday Inn, I, too, have learned my comfort zone. One turning point for me (us) was at a B&B that was billed as “for adults only” – which appealed to us as, hopefully, a sedate and relaxing place. A gourmet communal dinner was part of the package and sounded like it would be enjoyable. However, when the 12 year old granddaughter of the proprietors was brought out and introduced as our waitress for the evening, things went downhill quickly. That, and the fact that this B&B had no locks on the room doors, quickly made us realize that we need to be very careful in booking anything other than traditional hotels. Safety and security are also an issue, and given the many cases we have had involving incidents in hotels, our comfort zone and practices inside hotels have been impacted! Doors which open to a hallway are safer than those which open to the exterior of the building, for example, especially depending on the location. Near the highway where the “bad guys” can do their thing and disappear into the night is also a bad thing. These latter 2 examples are based on cases in which we’ve been involved. These are the types of lessons learned working as trial consultants; many lessons we’ve learned have been because of someone else’s ill fortune. Other travel lessons are from testing different types of environments to find a comfort zone. It is fun to explore and experience small and unique lodging, and as you learn what you like or dislike, it becomes easier to do the research or ask the questions to ensure that the experience will be positive.