Hotel Living & Travel Buddies Hotel Living & Travel Buddies

Working in the TV industry you are in the fortunate position of being asked to travel on a regular basis. Sometimes internationally, but usually across the UK. Either way this means a lot of time getting to know service stations, a la Alan Partridge, and staying hotels.

The hotels I have been billeted in cover the full spectrum, from a hotel in London that had a burnt-out car in the car park (we didn’t stay the night at that one), through one that hadn’t actually been finished (didn’t stay at this one either), to some fantastic top end boutique spa kinda deals. Whatever the hotel there are a few things that a crew will be looking for; a clean half decent bed, a hot shower and somewhere to get a pie and pint in walking distance. Everything else is bells and whistles at the end of the day.

Checking in is always a lottery, if you’ve got a lot of kit then you can guarantee that you’ll have the room furthest from reception and the lifts. One of Murphy’s Laws, I guess.

When I first started traveling with work and carting kit round, I didn’t really make that much of an effort in the room. It was usually a case of throw my bag in the corner, get kit organised, batteries on charge and have things reasonably packed for a quick get out in the morning.
Which is fine if you are staying the night. As a) you won’t have much gear in your overnight bag for a one night stay away and b) It’s a pretty quick repack either way.

It’s when you are staying somewhere for a few nights on the trot that “Moving in” might be a good idea. Now, not that long ago I would have poo-pooed the idea of unpacking a whole kit bag for a couple of nights, BUT my Damascene moment came in the Yukon, as all the best ones do I’m sure. I’d spent 8 weeks in the Yukon on Gold Rush and had my time out there extended by one week to cover a gap at another claim. Having moved claims, I didn’t unpack, so I lived out of my kit back for a week. Which wasn’t a big deal as I’d done that for years in hotels at home. This time however it meant every morning when I unpacked the clothes for the day and repacked the clothes from the day before it was a constant reminder that I was half in transit and the other half planted at Dominion Camp. It wasn’t till the end of the week that I realised that my fully packed, locked and loaded kit bag had made the week feel longer, I was ready roll out and start the travel home when I looked at that bag, but instead of traveling home, I had to push it back under the bed and go to work, the mindset at the end of a long stint like that was all wrong.

From then on, whenever I have more than one night in a hotel the kit bag gets empty. The wash bag and soap dish go into the bathroom, the clothes don’t get hung up on hangers (let’s not go mad here) they’ll be piled – lovingly – in the closest and the empty kit bag pushed out of sight somewhere. Just feels a little more like I’ve got sorted and I’m settled in. Silly I know, but if you’re living out of a bag in every hotel for weeks at a time maybe give it try.

Other things what I have learnt from years for hotel stays?
Always have your phone on charge near your bed, have a pair of trousers, socks and jumper/fleece/jacket on your kit (in my case it’s on the mixer) with your car keys in the pocket and have a fresh battery in anything that you can’t power up with supermarket batteries (in my case the mixer again). What’s all this in aid of? Fire Alarms, there’s been a good many occasions where a fire alarm has gone off and the whole hotel been emptied onto the street while we wait for the fire brigade to arrive and then either find out what the deal is with the fire and put it out or just simply reset the alarm. In these cases, the people who are outside and dressed are people who have been still in the bar and crew. With their kit. Everyone else has been cold or wet or both.
With that in mind, always have a look where the fire exits are on your floor so you know how to get out.

Going along with the unpacking to get my head in the right place for a long stay, I’ve started to have travel buddies. This is the silliest thing of all really. Again. If you told me that I’d be doing stuff like this when I was a 20 something cub recordist I would have laughed. Times have changed, there’s a family at home now. But the travel buddy thing actually started before I met Abbie and the kids arrived.

The little yellow fella in the photo’s was the first one, he came out of a Kinder egg in Kurdistan, in 2015. The egg was bought by the Producer who had self-funded the project and when this quirky little fella came out of the egg it seemed only proper that he stay with me for the rest of the journey.
I’m not sure how he lost his legs, in a freak sound recording incident let’s say, but he’s been in the car or in the mixer bag ever since. Due to his injuries he hasn’t been on some of the trips further afield.

The Jade Bears are the Family.

These come from Dawson City, Yukon. The Big Bear and Mama Bear were bought at the end of my first stint out there, bet you never thought I’d be this gooey right? One for Abbie, one for me.
Then, when the twins came along, the Baby Bears were added. I found out that it was Twins when I was out in Dawson for Gold Rush, so the Bears seem to tie it all together.
These now come with me when I have a foreign trip, they take pride of place on my table in whatever room I’m in, just to give me a bit of a pick me up if I’m tired, or home sick or just a bit flat. Some days they won’t be looked at all obviously, but having them is good enough. Just a little reminder as to why I’m doing what I’m doing that day.

The newest little guy is me.

Well as close to me as Lego and Minifigs can get.
In the last couple of years Lego has been reborn for me. I wasn’t a huge fan as a kid to be fair, but when Abbie was pregnant, she bought me a Lego Technic and we ended up doing it together sat at the table a couple of months before the Twins arrived.

Last Christmas, thanks to the advertising Algorithms on Instagram I came across the Minifigs company that help you make a Lego version of you. I bought one for Abbie and one for me. My one and some of the other Lego that I got for presents or whatever have started to be part of my photography stuff now as they are the easiest portrait sitters I have around!

So, this little guy is coming on the road with me. Hopefully I’ll show him some good stuff and interesting places. The Bears will be waiting for me at wherever I’ve laid my hat, and the Fuzzy Damaged Dude. Maybe we can find him somewhere comfy in the car.


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