Darren provides an overview of our “quirky” methods to ensure that we do not leave items in hotel rooms.
Over the years, we have lost our share of items in hotel rooms. But, on this 14-month trip, we are staying in a new hotel room every three or four nights. In Europe alone, we stayed in over 30 different hotels! And, many of our items are very specialized and cannot be replaced on the road. For example, if we left the cable for my phone behind, we would have to have it special-ordered at home and then shipped overnight to our next location. Needless to say, we need to have a “bomb proof” process that ensures that we do not leave items behind.
Sometimes I check the room before we leave. And, sometimes, Sandy does. But the key is to have only one person responsible to do so before you close the door for the last time. Otherwise, it can be confusing to know what has been checked and what has not. So if I am going to perform the check, it is Sandy’s job to start moving the bags out into the hallway. When checking, I have the attitude that something has been missed and I am trying to find it. There is a subtle difference between this and making sure I do not forget something. I have found that having this attitude keeps me alert and focused throughout the process.
Pretty simple. Make sure nothing is on the counters or floor. Make sure nothing has been left in the shower. Close the door when done.
Years ago, I wore socks to bed when we were traveling in New Zealand. It was cold that night, and my toes were frozen. Later, my feet warmed up and so I kicked them off. After we had moved on to the next city, I realized that I was missing my socks. Because we were traveling light, I was down to only one pair!
These days, when I am checking the bed, I pretend that I am looking for my lost socks. I lift the comforter, blanket and sheets in the air and shake them so that if there is anything in there, it will fall out on the middle of the bed.
It is also super easy to kick items under the bed, so I also get on my hands and knees and look there too. If it is dark, I turn on the lights. I have also been known to use a small flashlight. I know that I am doing a good job when I find other people’s stuff!
Counters and Desk
Once, when traveling on business, I left my wedding ring in the room. I frantically called the hotel the instant I realized my mistake. Fortunately, the maid who found it sent it to lost and found (note to self: leave the jewelry at home!). So we do not have these items to worry about on this trip. Another time (again on business travel), I left the power converter for my laptop in the room under the desk. It was cheaper just to buy another one. But, I took a note of the mistake for the future.
Because we have a newsletter to put out every week, we often work for hours at a time in our hotel room. As a result, we have laptops, maps, memory cards and extension cords out for extended periods of time. Some of these items look a lot like the items placed there by the hotel (the cable for the TV, for example). So, it is important for us to be very careful to review the mass of wires when we are leaving and make sure we have not missed one of ours!
Curtains, Window Sills and Chairs
I know what you are thinking: window sills, curtains and chairs? I often find myself placing an item on the window sill. And, as for the curtains, items can fall out of our luggage and remain hidden on the floor under them. I also move chairs away from the wall, assuming that something is under them and hidden from view. Then, I lift up the cushions just to make sure nothing is there.
Drawers and Closet
We never place any items in the drawers or closet. Keeping track of our stuff is hard enough. We limit the number of places we need to look as a way to improve our accuracy.
Oh, I almost forgot! Since I am often the last one in the room, I am also the person with the key. On at least two occasions on this journey, I have forgotten it give the key back at the front desk when we have checked out. In Nepal, I did not discover it until we had taken a six-hour bus ride to our next destination. Fortunately, we were returning to this same hotel after our trek in the Upper Mustang region so we could give them back the key then.
I am sure that the process I have described above might sound like overkill. But, in fact, all this checking takes less than three minutes. And, it is a lot less work than trying to replace an item that we have left behind.