Life on the Road

From Sk8 Talk, column in Callback newspaper

Living “on the road” can be glamorous, but it can also be challenging. Living out of a suitcase for most of the year presents many challenges/opportunities, depending on how you look at it.
I have been touring the world as a professional ice skater for the last 11 years so I thought I would share some of the inventive and funny ways that I have survived “hotel room hell.”

First of all, I Feng Shui the room upon arrival. The photo’s, candles, office, stereo, and toiletries all get placed in their new home. They say, “home is where the heart is” so I always make sure to make the hotel room feel just right. To make the room feel larger, try to rearrange the beds into an L shape. Some beds are connected to the floor but some roll free and can be moved. The maids don’t really like this but it is really worth it if you are in the room for a while. Make sure to put the beds back when you check out! Once this is done, I go grocery shopping for the week.

I have learned to eat out as little as possible so in my suitcase I carry a burner, pot, frying pan, strainer, bowl, plate and utensils. I can cook just about anything in the room….but I am always careful that I hide the cooking things from the hotel staff. Most hotels don’t allow cooking in the room but that is one of the only ways I survive life on the road. If I don’t have a mini-bar (that I promptly empty to fill with my groceries) I either use a fold up ice chest or I “bag hang” out the window depending on the weather.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both techniques. With the ice chest, I have to get new ice everyday and there is a chance that my food will get all wet. With the bag hanging, I can only do this in cold weather and the sun can spoil everything. I just put the food that needs to stay cold in a plastic bag and hang it out the window (being careful not to drop it on people below).

The bathroom doubles as a kitchen. I always designate one small towel to the dish dryer and I carry a small sponge to wash the dishes. The toilet is the garbage disposal. I wouldn’t want to clog up the sink.

The free shampoo doubles as dish soap and sometimes as laundry soap!

If the hotel has free breakfast, I always make a “scam” sandwich that I can eat as a snack later. By scam, I just mean that I am getting a free little lunch out of the free breakfast deal. Stock up on the free fruit that they leave at the front desk at some hotels. Pick up condiments at the rest stops along the way. Free little ketchup, mustard, sugar, salt and peppers will come in handy later.
Some hotels get really mad if you have too much food in the garbage. In that case, I have a “scandalistic garbage” that I empty myself so that they will not know from which room it came! Then, I keep the regular garbage in the room so they won’t be suspicious.

Stock up on the complimentary stationary, post cards, razors, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. Some hotels have them and some don’t so get them while you can!
Be sure to carry a multi-plug for those rooms that just don’t have enough power for all of your appliances (and Christmas lights).

Here are a couple of ideas from friends of mine. I have not actually done them. One friend has a list of dishes that he can cook with an iron and tin foil. Grilled cheese sandwiches, and steamed veggies just to name a few. Another friend heats up soup in the sink by running hot water over it for a while.

Needless to say, I am sure there are many other hotel room survival techniques but these are just a few of mine.
I wish you many safe and happy travels.

May your jobs be plenty and your hotel stays fewer than mine!