The Art of Living in Hotels

I have worked in the oilfield for 2.5 years now. During this time I have found myself traveling from one town to the next and seeing the inside of more hotel rooms than I can count. Every time I get to a new town I do a little exploring to chase away the boredom of being cooped up in one small room with a tv, bed and little else. After spending the last two months in hotel rooms I would like to share with you three lessons that I have learned.

1. Explore local attractions. Every town has them even the small ones. As luck would have it my specialty is living in small towns. The first thing to do is figure out what there is in the area.  This means picking up that little brochure in the lobby of the hotel, tracking down the town's website, or asking a friendly looking local. Small towns always have something nearby. It might be World's Largest Totem Pole (Foyil, OK), a covered bridge tour (Washington and Greene County, PA), cave boat ride (Centre Hall, PA), wildlife reserve, or a national park. Be sure to make stop at that little mom and pop shop down the road that sell homemade fried pies before you take off on your adventure. The next day be sure to feed the ducks at the local park or check out the train they have on display. Become a history buff of the local region by finding out where that little museum of natural history is hidden in town. Get artsy and attend any local festival or event that may be happening such as Music in the Park, a festival downtown, or a fair. After a busy day it would be time to find some good local food, because a savvy traveler like yourself would not want to eat at that large fast food chain (if the town is big enough to have one). This the hotel staff could help you locate the little place down the road that has rib-eye Tuesdays, 25 cent wings Wednesdays, or 1 dollar beers Fridays. Get out of that hotel room and experience the town you are in there is a lot to discovered.

A boat tour of  Penn's Cave in Pennsylvania 

   Out for a quick hike at a local trail.

Italy market
   Local street market that was set up every day. 

 balloon glow
Annual hot air balloon festival in Colorado Springs

Kayak rental at a Susquehanna State Park
2. Talk to strangers. That is right, you heard me. Ignore what your parents taught you as a kid and say "Hello and how are you today?" to the person sitting next to you at the bar or the person riding the elevator with you. Not everyone is creepy and a lot of people out there have interesting stories they are willing to share. You just might make a friend or at least have a pleasant conversation in this home away from home you are staying in. The people I have met traveling have always been kind and some of them are just looking for a friendly conversation too.

Irish Man
 An old gentleman at the train station that would talk your ear off. 

Probably shouldn't hug the stranger.

3. Learn to trust people. Now this one is difficult. Coming from a country were strangers are kept at arm's length and almost never trusted upon first meeting them I have had a difficult time getting over my initial distrust of everyone I don't know. Having very little command of the Spanish language has made this statement a necessity. For example when I first arrived in Venezuela I was told a taxi driver would take me to my hotel which was about an hour away from the airport. The guy had a hand written sign with my name on it and his name was similar to what I was told so I hopped in his car and we were off. Turns out it was the correct guy. I got to my hotel safe and sound. If someone invites you next door to the restaurant that has karaoke that night or offers to help you with a menu at the restaurant because they know you don't speak the language it is ok to say yes. These people are genuinely interested in letting you know where the happening place is in town or just want to lend a helping hand.

My dad and the woman who trusted him to take off with 
her motorcycle on a joyride.

While my time here in Venezuela has just begun I have taken living in a hotel to the next level of living in a hotel in a foreign country where you don't know the language. Learning Spanish  has also proven to be easier since I have taken the time to talk to people and attempt small talk. I am more confident with trying to speak it because I have made some acquaintances with the hotel staff and a few of the other people staying here. These three things have made my stay in hotels much more interesting.