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Thank You for a pleasant trip

November 1, 2013


Hampton Inn. Somewhere. I don’t really know.


I love traveling, don’t get me wrong, but I have often tried to figure out just what the heck is so wearying about sitting on my butt for large parts of the day until I get somewhere I want to be.

It’s the decisions. Travel is like solving a puzzle, a giant puzzle, where the clues are every single thing around me all day long. In normal life, we are on automatic much of the time, pushing the same buttons, opening the same doors. In travel, it’s all new.

Until I get to my destination, I’m bedeviled by a thousand little unfamiliar things, each one pecking at my available store of energy like a chicken pecking at a pile of corn kernels. Peck peck peck until my energy is gone and I feel like I can’t take one more step.

It’s all silly stuff, but it adds up:

  • Does the credit card magnetic strip face you, or face away (American Airlines faces away, United faces you. Or maybe the other way round).
  • Where do I go now that they made a last-minute gate change?
  • Which line do I stand in? Shoes on or off? Laptops where?
  • Which pocket is that thing in now?

By the end of 12 or 14 hours, I’m ready to collapse, even though my most strenuous activity has been lifting my luggage onto the scale thing to see how close to overweight my suitcase is.

This is why the Hampton Inns are brilliant. I discovered them earlier this year. I stayed in one in Green Bay, Wisconsin, then the next night in Joliet, Illinois. Here’s what I noticed: they were almost identical. The way the front desk looked, the free breakfast service, the room decor, even the pool area – they were alike in both places.

This week I made an emergency stop at another Hampton Inn near O’Hare airport, checking in sans luggage, which was “in transit.” After a flight delay, a missed connection, 2 1/2 hours of marching around LAX trying to find a new way to get to my destination and arriving to find no luggage, I was on my last piece of chicken corn.

On my person, I had my purse, my work laptop, and a “spa pack” given to me by the American Airlines employees after I told them about my missing luggage.

The luxurious spa pack contained a tiny deodorant stick, a razor, a weird folding plastic brush/comb combo thing, a painfully sharp toothbrush, and toothpaste that tasted like minty congealed lead paint. (I thought “Really, American Airlines? You couldn’t spend four cents more and buy actual brand-name toothpaste instead of toxic waste paste?”)

I checked in at 10 pm, after leaving my home that morning at 7 am and expecting to be in Indiana, but ending up in Chicago.

But you know what? That Hampton was just like the other two I had stayed in during my July trip. Instantly, I could relax a bit. I knew how everything worked and where everything was and even what it would look like.

It’s like McDonald’s. That Big Mac is not the most expensive gourmet hamburger you’ll ever get, but it’s definitely going to be like the last 100 Big Macs you had, and you can count on that. It’s good AND consistent, and it’s the consistency you crave. That feeling of familiarity, of knowing my way around the Hampton, was like a balm to my overtired traveler brain.

The Hampton is clean and comfortable and has everything you need – free Wifi, free parking, free breakfast buffet – even ear plugs provided in my room.

So thank you, Hampton Inns. I love you. You may not be the Ritz, but you’ve been exactly what I needed when I needed it. I’m sure I will see you again sometime soon. I’m a fan.

  1. November 1, 2013 21:50

    I am of the House of Hampton as well! That’s where we stayed in Oxnard last summer when we met. I’ve regretted the two times we strayed from it since. The free breakfast means hubby can grab a little something at 7am and not be hungry-grumpy when I don’t get up until 9. Or so.

    • November 2, 2013 16:18

      And it’s a pretty good free breakfast, too! Plus, the one by Ohare had a little snack shop, so starving travelers could get a snack without going out when they arrived at 10 pm. They get extra points for that.

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