Lessons learned part 2: Somewhere to lay our heads

Courtyard hotel in Palm Springs California.

This is the second post of lessons I learned from our trip to California, The story begins… and the first set of lessons is in the post: Lessons learned part 1: Flying Lessons.

Two airport/rental car notes:

  1. Travel with a pocket knife to cut the zip-tie off the walker. (Keep it close to the surface of your packed bag.)
  2. We got a mid-sized car. This was a good move: a smaller car might have done, but it was nice to have a little margin for getting the walker/wheelchair combo in and out of the trunk.

Lesson #1: The biggest lesson I learned is this: do not use a booking agency.

As mentioned in The story begins… the hotel did not have a room that matched the description I was sold. How could I be so stupid?

Here is how: I knew that the online travel agency did not have the tools for me to reserve the room we needed. There was a phone number beside the name and address of the hotel, foolishly I assumed that it was the phone number of the hotel. It was not. The person who answered the phone did not state the name of the business. It soon became clear that she did not know for which hotel I wanted to make a reservation, but even then I didn’t realize what I later learned: this person couldn’t do any more than I could have done!

She could not see any more than I could about the hotel and rooms, and she did not call the hotel itself and check (which is what I was trying to do when I called her). What makes me angry is that she should have said that they can’t do what I needed and sent me on my way instead of spending at least a half an hour on the phone carefully outlining our needs and with her making bogus arrangements, plus about two hours plus per minute cell phone charges trying to rectify the situation with Grandma stuck out in the car.

I have not named the on-line agency, this is because I do not know whether they are worse than others (it seems like there is only one,  or maybe two, corporation(s) and that all of the on-line booking agencies are about the same).

Lesson #2: Beds, ADA toilets, and accessible bathing arrangements are not one size fits all. For my short grandma with weak legs the height is critical. Before making future arrangements I am going to get specific measurements and try to ascertain whether the hotel has  what is needed. A bed can’t be adjusted but a raised toilet seat is available.

Lesson #3: Bring a door stop: grandma can’t open a door easily or get safely through self-closing doors. We borrowed one from the hotel maintenance (the first day the maid took it by mistake so we hid it when we went out, you might call that lesson #3a) and used it to keep the bathroom door propped open far enough for Grandma to get in with her walker and to keep the room door from slamming on us as we came in or went out.

Time for sharing (Use the comment box to respond):

  • Have you successfully used an on-line booking agency? Which one? Did you do something particular to make it work?
  • Do you bring along something to make hotel rooms work better?
  • Is there a particular question you have learned to ask when making reservations?
  • Any other tips for hotel stays? How about car rentals?

Author: Kate

Formerly a stress engineer, I now do this and that. Which involves some website design and maintenance, some photography, some writing, eldercare for relatives, walking my furry friends, a bit of gardening and as little housekeeping as I can manage.

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