A hostel view, Iguazu, Argentina. Image courtesy of Melinda Clemmer.

I have a confession to make: I love to travel, but I am thoroughly grossed out by hotel rooms. You can add to that rooms in hostels and sometimes houses in which I’m a guest, even if I know the hosts! In her recent post Ann discussed her relationship with negativity bias, “the phenomenon in which our brains are built with a greater sensitivity to, and stronger recall for, unpleasant news.” It’s our brain’s way of protecting us from the dangerous. It could be my evolutionary response to finding a hair in the sheets, or it could be I’m just a worrywart. Either way, here are all the things that make me squirm when it comes to staying someplace other than my home.

The Bed

The bed is the staple of the hotel room. It’s where I have to rest my weary head at night, and it’s the largest surface on which to put things, even though I know not to put my bags on it (bed bugs!). And yet it might be one of the most worrisome spots in the whole room for me. My main concern is, you probably guessed it, bed bugs. I find myself checking the sheets, scouring the seams, in search of the creepy crawlies and their leavings. So far (thankfully!) I haven’t found them. I have, on the other hand, found suspicious curly hairs; what look like crusty boogers; and big, smelly yellow stains. So can you really blame me for checking?

A cabin-style hotel in Jujuy, Argentina. Photo courtesy of Melinda Clemmer.
A cabin-style hotel in Jujuy, Argentina. Photo courtesy of Melinda Clemmer.

The Shower

I’ve learned to bring my flip-flops on trips where I’ll be staying in a hotel or hostel; I might as well give my feet a fighting chance. But flip-flops can’t stand up against the rising tide of a bathtub with a clogged drain. You know the feeling: You enter the bathroom in your towel, finally adjust the water to a temperature that’s warm-ish, and step into the tub. Only to find that in a few minutes your shower has become a bath and you’re wading through inches of water, your flip-flops floating off your feet. And don’t forget those times you find traces of what’s clogging the drain sailing past your prune-y toes.

The Sofa (or Chair or Chaise Lounge)

This is a room accoutrement I rarely use. The fact is, once I’ve cleared the bed, I’m satisfied with just one surface on which to sit. Most recently I stayed in my very first extended stay hotel here in the States. Despite the stains on the ceiling and the crack in the bathtub, the kitchen and room in general seemed clean. Until I saw the ants crawling on the chair. Now, ants are some of the most harmless insects in my book, and these guys were tiny black ones. So I cleaned up the small feast they had been enjoying and told the front desk about our visitors; the woman promptly sprayed the baseboards with chemicals, which doesn’t seem to have deterred the ants.

The Remote

This actually wasn’t something that bothered me until my visit to the extended stay hotel, which had a television remote that felt undeniably slimy. You know when you go to a museum and touch the interactive screens and you can just feel how many other fingers have touched them? It felt like that.

Cooking in the hostel’s common kitchen, Colonia, Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Melinda Clemmer.

The potential for bacteria and critters skeeves me out, it’s obvious. When those who travel with me have to watch as I make my own bed with new sheets because of some unwelcome discovery, it often makes me feel like less of a traveler, like I should be able to weather those things if I deserve to see the sights worth seeing. That is partly true. The world, in so many ways, isn’t perfect. And the camaraderie of a hostel, the luxury of being a guest in a hotel in a new place, these things should ultimately trump my worries. And they do. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t still be traveling. Somehow I need to balance my desire for cleanliness and my love of adventure, but I’m not quite sure how.

What about you, Go Girls? How do you handle a dirty hotel, hostel, or house?

What measures do you take to make sure you feel comfortable without going overboard?