Wednesday, March 27, 2019

TV CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK. A little peek inside what this journalist always takes on his travels when staying in hotels.

Last night, checking into yet another hotel, this TV critic and journalist thought: Instead of a story or report about television, why not share for once what I actually always pack and travel with.

A lot of people take stuff from hotels (Cushions? Really?) but I actually bring a lot of my own stuff.

Since I travel a lot, I try to make my environment as close as possible to home. I act the same, I do the same, and try to function the same - meaning I constantly work and try to get as much done as possible, and try to make my hotel room an office environment.

The things I pack and never travel without, are things I've learnt - one by one - the hard way to take with me.

It's just a few things and it doesn't make my bag heavier but make my work and travelling life and experience a lot easier, comfortable and functional.

I always pack an electric extension cord. Sometimes the chair at the desk and actual wall plug are too far apart, you can't sit and work with your laptop close to you.

Or I have to sit in an auditorium, TV set, or on a floor somewhere covering a show or a press conference - and where I need to or must sit is far/further away from where the closest plug in the wall is. Or sometimes I just want to sit on the actual hotel bed with my laptop on my lap.

I always pack about 2 packs of 2-minute noodles and a pack or two of instant oats. Because of the irregular hours and "weird" times that covering events and the world of television demands, I would go and cover a TV show, do a set visit or a TV show's red carpet and premiere event and get back to the hotel at 23:00 or midnight or even later.

Then there's no food. A 2-minutes noodles or instant oats, using the hotel room kettle to boil some water and noodles or oats in a cup is my dinner.

Also, I often have to leave very early in the morning - if I already have to fly at 07:00 or 08:00 - which I prefer so as to not lose a whole or half a working day flying, I have to be at the airport at 06:00, and have to drive there already at 05:00 or 06:00, meaning no chance to have the (free) breakfast at the hotel.

I also always pack my own face cloth. Not all hotels have them and there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason. Some 4- or 5-star hotels don't provide them.

I don't use a hotel room's sugar or coffee - the few straws are never enough to make even 2 cups of coffee and the type of coffee vary too much in terms of taste and quality.

I pack my own sugar in a Tupperware container, and my own coffee in a Tupperware container, and always my own metal spoon - and have done this for years. I don't want to use the plastic or whatever spoons there might be in a hotel, or the plastic stirrers that are not really functional.

I also travel with eye drops since my eyes are definitely my hardest working body part after my brain. Besides having to read an awful lot and look at screens, they also dry out with a change in climate and weather when I land in cities I visit.

In my backpack on airplanes, I have L'Oreal Hydra Energetic recharging moisturiser turbo booster. The little thin tube is a miracle and like Gummi Berry Juice for my skin. Before I fly, or during a flight, I put some on to prevent my skin from drying out.

Also when I arrive in whatever city where the weather and climate is a bit different from where I live I can literally almost always feel my skin drying out and just feeling fatigued.

The orange moisturiser isn't sticky, doesn't leave a "plastered on" feeling and just makes my skin feel "normal", supple, refresh and alive, just like when I'm at home.

I didn't always use it and it was a try, try, and try different things until I found that it works best for me personally.

By now you would have realised that I don't use hotel room stuff like the lotions and things and behave a bit as if I'm an 85-year old cat lady on the inside.

It might shock you to hear that I also travel with my own shampoo in a little container. Why use wildly varying hotel room shampoo that is not of great quality but just something hotels give to guests and is bottled mass-market? I use my same shampoo at hotels that I use at home.

I also pack a little dust cloth and Windolene Crystal Clear. Again, having tried and tried and tried many things it cleans glass the best - no stains, residue, static and like the name says, really "crystal clear".

I clean my cellphone and tablet surfaces that gets sticky and gets smudges from all the constant swipes as well as the back lense take as best photos as possible, as well as my laptop screen and keyboard, and sometimes even some of the hotel room surfaces like desk surfaces and things.

I am a bit of an obsessive-compulsive cleaner and even at home I clean my screens at least once a week.

I also pack a little metal men's vanity case with stainless steel scissors, a nail file, nail clipper, tweezer - I need the scissors so often!

The Pick n Pay reusable produce bags that that supermarket recently started selling are great! It's cheap, light and extremely durable. Nope, I don't use it to go buy onions or apples. It's excellent as a little bag to carry or bundle loose items together in your luggage or backpack, for instance, power cords or power banks.

At home, I use it to tumble dry my underwear and socks. You can put your underwear and/or socks in the bag (that can be tumble dried), providing added protection to your clothes inside the tumble drier.

What I don't really travel and pack is ... a toothbrush and a razor.

A hotel secret ... you can dial housekeeping and ask for a toothbrush, comb and razor (and a few other amenities) that the hotel provides for free.

I always call once I've checked in and unpacked and ask for "a dental kit" and a "shaving kit" that are delivered to your door. The toothbrush comes with a little toothpaste (usually Colgate although it varies depending on the star-type of hotel) and the razor comes with shaving cream.

So, these are the things I travel with.

Each item's addition to my way of traveland packing was a journey - something I had to figure out and learn the hard way is not just needed when I'm away from home but makes a hotel stay better when I have to work away from home.