‘We sold our home and belongings. We were given orders to stay at home, except unlike many, home for us is a hotel room.’: Traveling family thanks hospitality workers, ‘No matter what, they take it in stride’

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“Our family, like many others, were given orders to stay at home… Except unlike many, home for us is a hotel room.

When I step into the hall just outside of the room we’ve called home for months, I am filled with gratitude for the many amazing people that work here to make us and many others feel at home day in and day out— here and in hotels across the country. Our traveling family is constantly thankful for their unwavering support, and the relationships we can sometimes develop with them.

Before we sold our home and belongings to live the full-time, ‘stay-at-hotel’ life, I honestly didn’t realize just how many types of people the travel industry serves quite regularly. They don’t just care for the leisurely side like young families on their first Disney vacation, girls in Nashville for bachelorette parties, or rowdy families fueled by a little too much alcohol during out of town weddings.

They also provide a place to rest for people making hotels home for a while.

Courtesy Courtney Abernathy

For example, rest for traveling medical teams aka HEROES, a quick and safe shelter for those whose houses have been destroyed, much needed respite for those traveling for emergency medical treatment, possibility for business folks who are meeting needs of vibrant communities, and even a temporary home for families like ours, traveling for chicken.

Our sweet friend and fellow mama, April, at the front desk during our first stop in Pennsylvania would tell me free or cheap places to take the kids because she understood more than most that this wasn’t a vacation for us and that I wouldn’t want to splurge to entertain our crazy kids all the time. Glenn at the same hotel’s bistro became like a friend to our son and started to make me a cup of coffee every single morning as soon as the hotel elevator opened, and he heard my toddler’s loud voice. Our son still talks about going back to visit him to discuss more Bigfoot tales even months later. Harvey in Indiana always saved Tristan a chocolate milk and a smile… or ‘snuck’ him a Yahoo once when they ran out.

From having a hilarious group of gals from housekeeping help me push the comically, Tetris stacked luggage carts of our belongings to a much anticipated room change, to the new young lady at the front desk that my husband probably scared to death as he ran downstairs at 3 a.m., desperately seeking new bedding when our daughter decide to make her dinner reappear in our current set.

Every single person we’ve met so far on this journey has cared for our unpolished, ragtag crew with such compassion. Day or night. In good times and bad. We just adore them for always making our stays feel more like a home. However, setting up camp in a hotel means I’ve also witnessed the staff we love deal with the harsh sides of their job.

For example… when people turn red from yelling in their face over something as small as the highway noise level, or the adults who rudely demand that more waffle mix be put out for their little angel ‘right this MINUTE’ to a worker who is working hard to fix another, more urgent need. I mean I know we all have off days, but some of the verbal insults I’ve heard hurled in the staff’s direction by people who they’ll thankfully never see again makes them truly worthy of sainthood.

No matter what, they take it in stride.

In the midst of a pandemic, the routines in place when we arrived have become a lot different at our current hotel. We don’t pass the front desk to go out unless it’s ‘essential’, and the smiling faces we used to see at breakfast everyday have been replaced by a barricade of tables and long lines of caution tape for everyone’s safety in the lobby.

During this historic moment, it’s truly been profound to be guests still safely tucked inside these walls as this industry faces an enormous impact. Hotels across the country are turning off the lights and closing their doors. What should be the start of a booming travel season that provides jobs and opportunities for so many, is a scary and unprecedented season of unknown.

People have reached out to ask if we are okay and we really are! Honestly, living here is just like living in an apartment. But I do worry…

It’s not the germs or hotel ‘neighbors’ with a mysterious travel history I’m heartsick about— even if that neighbor washes their clothes a little too close beside me in the shared laundry room. They said SIX feet, lady.

No. What worries me most are the wonderful people I mentioned above, and all the others I don’t know walking the halls of hotels, airports, and more across the country. The ones still checking off lists, and keeping necessary travelers, and those like us already here, in the middle of this pandemic, safe.

The people who were ready to watch and serve every other person enjoying their time on vacations in hotels, planes, cruise ships, vacation rentals and more, whose source of income has been paused, lost, or remains a mystery each day.

They may not get the same recognition as other jobs, but there will always be an absolute need for short term or long-term hotel stays, plane rides, and car rentals that are ‘essential’ for people. Seeing this industry’s willingness to continue serving so many new faces without having any authority to ask the people they meet about their medical or travel history makes them all very, very brave to me.

Courtesy Courtney Abernathy

Just like there is no denying that this is a dark time for their industries. We also can’t deny the need to support them and remember this for years to come.

Of course, stay home, and don’t you dare book a vacation for right now!!

Wait for this all to hopefully pass, but then if you find yourself fortunate enough to take that much anticipated trip to Disney, go out of town with friends, or maybe just stay in the local Marriot down the street to get a welcome change of scenery, freaking do it.

Take the vacation, make new memories with your family, and tip your staff well…

Give them room for errors and lots of praise. The extra grace over a misunderstanding, the humility you show someone when things go wrong, and the words you use during even the smallest interactions can be so impactful.

Someone might say you’re selfish for traveling first thing, but I can’t fault you. Your money will be contributing to the support of an industry filled with wonderful people that rely on it to support their own families.

Just remember the lessons we are learning now, and that every moment is fleeting. You and I have no idea the lows this season may bring these extraordinary, servant hearted humans who check us in, bring up extra towels, craft a delicious breakfast, take our ticket, fly our plane, hand us pretzels, and overall just make our time away calm and comfortable.

Remember this season…
Remember the hardships…
Remember to stay kind.”

Courtesy Courtney Abernathy

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtney Abernathy. Follow her journey on Instagram hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Courtney here: 

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‘I was pro-life, I was in church, and I hated abortion. Yet here I was, mind racing and silently ‘considering my options.’: Woman urges other pro-lifers ‘don’t demonize women for being scared

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