I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 21, 2012
Traveling alone, as you know, can be stressful—particularly when that travel involves navigating New York City. Alone.
I went to New York recently with lots of things to do and lots places to be. One day, I covered the new health care law, interviewing experts for several hours in order to understand the Affordable Care Act well enough to explain it to CafeMom readers. (And that, incidentally, is why I wrote nothing here last week. There’s something about trying to decipher 2,000 pages of health care law that effectively kills my creative side.) The next day, I joined the Parents for Occupy Wall Street for a playgroup in Greenwich Village.
Finding my way around town was psychologically exhausting, and there was nothing more enticing than the prospect of returning to my hotel room at the end of the day and collapsing in my big, soft, pillow-strewn bed.
It is, after all, supposed to be the small reward for any mom who travels regularly on business—A bed of one’s own!! Along with an alarm clock that doesn’t sound like a four-year-old, and never goes off before you want it to!!
The problem is that these fantasies I entertain each time I check into a hotel never quite work out the way I expected.
In Manhattan, I stayed in a cozy boutique hotel in Gramercy Park. It was comfortable and convenient, but there was one small problem- a problem that was magnified in the early hours in the morning.
My room was beside the elevator.
Because of this, every single time the elevator was in use (which was often- the hotel had eight floors), it caused a loud rattling inside the wall. I got used to the sound during the day, but at night, the room would be silent for 15, 20, 45 minutes at a time and then…
RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
By 5 a.m., the knocking was happening every five or ten minutes. By six, without fail, I was wide awake. Six a.m. in New York, by the way, is FIVE A.M. my time.
And did I mention I’m not a morning person?
The truth of the matter, though, is that I never sleep well in hotel rooms, no matter where they are in relation to the elevator, and I don’t know why I always forget this each time I travel. I need to come to terms with the fact that pretty much every hotel on the planet is likely to have some or all of the following:
Drunk a#*holes are a mainstay of the hotel experience. They’re in Des Moines/ New Orleans/ Peoria to have a good time, dammit, and they’re going to shut that Applebees DOWN. Minutes after you’ve finally drifted off into dreamland, they tumble out of the elevator onto your floor, whooping, back slapping, and laughing raucously.
Teenagers are fine when they’re traveling with their parents, but on a trip with chaperones, they’re the absolute worst. For one thing, they don’t go out at night, so if they’re on your floor, prepare for plenty of screaming, laughing, crying, hallway drama, and ice machine runs.
And forget about a good night’s sleep.
He doesn’t want to disturb his wife’s rest, so The Cougher (generally a retired cigarette smoker recovering from bronchitis) emerges from his hotel room at one in the morning to cough and hack and wake you the hell up.
I’m not talking about solo business travelers with a red-eye to catch. They’re inevitably bleary-eyed and quiet. I’m talking about the couple that’s up at 5:30 am and raring to tour the area! They emerge from their rooms talking loudly and excitedly about their plans as they wait for the elevator. Hey, that’s great that you’re going to watch the sun rise from the top of the Empire State Building.
Now shut up.
THE DOOR SLAMMER
The door slammer stayed across the hall from me a few weeks ago, when I was in Des Moines. He was around ten years old, and was always ready to leave long before his parents had managed to gather their things together. While he waited, he stood in the doorway opening the door and letting it slam shut, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
I’ve written about my housekeeping woes before. Every so often, I end up in a hotel that sends out its housekeepers at some ungodly hour of the morning, so that they can knock on my door every 15 minutes until I’m effectively forced out of the room. Even if I’ve remembered to put out my Do Not Disturb sign, it doesn’t really matter – they simply pound on the doors next to mine, scream “HO– USEKEEPING!” a few times, and I’m awake.
Even if your hotel floor is mercifully devoid of guests, you’ll generally still have outside noise to contend with. From honking horns to sirens to drunken singalongs to downtown drag racing (HELLO, DES MOINES), I can’t count the number of nights I’ve lain awake in a strange hotel, staring at the ceiling, willing the car alarm right outside my hotel window to STOP.
No matter who or what’s responsible for my sleepless nights, by the end of my stay, I can’t check out fast enough.
And I can’t stop thinking as I travel home of my own wonderfully ragtag bed, with the soft, worn-in sheets and the man beside me who snores in the most endearing way, and the seven-year-old who clambers into the space between us at three in the morning and proceeds to kick me in the kidneys for the rest of the night, and of course, the trusty 4-year-old “alarm clock,” who goes off in my ear at precisely 6:30 a.m. with loud requests for milk and cereal and cartoons RIGHT NOW.
I wake to all of these things on the mornings after I arrive home, and I have to admit it…
I’ve never slept better.