Minimalist Travelling | Staying in Hotels During the Pandemic

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Signs of the times: this is a pedestrianised area now with no through traffic; one of many premises to let.

I've continued to travel around the UK pretty much through the past two years, except for the first few months when the lockdown was in place. Remember that silent time when there was no overhead aircraft and barely any traffic on the roads?

As a person who habitually visits other places, I was ready to go as soon as we were able to move around. A little too cautious to go to London, I decided to try Liverpool, then Tier 3, but the galleries were open with social distancing measures in place (as were the shops, bars and restaurants, I discovered when I got there).

The hotel restaurants weren't operational, though, and that set me on a self-catering route for hotel living that I've got down to a fine art after multiple trips.

I usually stay in the same chain of budget hotels, if one is available where I want to go. In addition to the same features available in every hotel, they usually have free or low-charge car parking on site or across the road, and a nearby convenience store either in a 24-hour garage or an adjacent retail area.

One of the things I've really come to appreciate is the storage arrangements in the hotel room. This is usually a unit with hanging and drawer space, a dressing area with mirror and hairdryer, and a set of shelves, one of which has the kettle and hospitality tray: perfect for a travelling kitchen.

I have a kitchen travel pack which fits into the mesh pocket inside the top of the medium sized suitcase I use for travelling. This includes a plastic plate with a deep lip, a set of cutlery, a serrated kitchen knife, about a third of a standard roll of paper towels, and a dishcloth, sponge with a scourer and a glass cloth, plus a few extra food bags.

I bought a tiny travelling fridge, which I can also use in the car. It's big enough to fit four beers, or a pint of milk, a yoghurt and a thin pack of cheese or salami slices in my case. It fits perfectly into the base of my suitcase, along with the little case that has its power cables. I also pack a folded zip up insulated bag which holds most of my food supplies while I'm away.

I used to travel with the smallest size case, the one for taking in-cabin for flying, but I've found by using the medium sized one, I can carry my travelling kitchen in with everything else. The fridge and everything else is very lightweight.

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Not the hotel I stay in!

My set up is travelling fridge on the top shelf where there is a handy power point plus storage for hotel hospitality items. The next shelf has the kettle and my food storage bag with the remainder of the shelf left free for preparation. The next shelf holds the kit I brought with me, plus bottles and any items I don't want to keep in the insulated bag. The bottom shelf holds the waste bin and any bags I've acquired.

I've discovered the dishcloth dries well draped over the food bag, with the sponge lain on top, and I usually fold the glass cloth over one of the supplied cloths hangers. It's easy enough to add an additional plate and set of cutlery if Mr P is travelling with me.

It has taken some trial and error to find the right set up (trying to use the top of a takeaway container as a plate or cutting board is not the easiest thing), and how to organise in the hotel room. I'm there now, and I love how neat and easy to use it is!

Most of the items I had at home, it took a bit searching to find lightweight plates (finally found some in one of the convenience stores where I was staying) and the most expensive item was the fridge, about 40 GBP/55 USD. That has now paid for itself many times over.

Although this arrangement was brought about by circumstance, there are several things I like about it, and I've continued to use it even though it is no longer necessary:

  • It's very convenient, I can eat when I want.
  • It's very inexpensive, on average I save 50%-70% of food costs.
  • I eat what I like including having fresh milk in my tea.

I used to buy fresh milk and it was hard work keeping it fresh for more than a day before I got the fridge. I usually pack a couple of small tins of baked beans with ring-pull tops, and then buy fresh items when I arrive. I like eating out, but not for every meal, and I would prefer to go to a more expensive restaurant occasionally than eat standard pub fare every day.

Having my little make do kitchen has become so much of a habit that when I came to pack for this trip, everything was already in the case. I'd replaced the damp cloths with clean, dry ones and topped up the paper towel and food bags. Packing everything took about fifteen minutes this time, including hunting for a shoe-bag, so I guess that's another advantage - less time getting ready or hunting for somewhere to eat!

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Three things newbies should do in their first week and, for most things, forever afterwards!

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11 comments
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Hello @shanibeer,
This is an interesting blog😁

I bought a tiny travelling fridge, which I can also use in the car. It's big enough to fit four beers, or a pint of milk, a yoghurt and a thin pack of cheese or salami slices in my case. It fits perfectly into the base of my suitcase, along with the little case that has its power cables. I also pack a folded zip up insulated bag which holds most of my food supplies while I'm away.

This definitely caught my eyes, and I'm heading to Amazon to see what there is, even if I won't buy one. That is just amazing.

There is a #KISS topic coming up in a few weeks that will cover this area, I hope you'll find one of the options appealing to write about too:)

Awesome post🙌

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Hello @millycf1976,

I was so pleased with myself this time round! I have had much more messy experiences as I was learning the best way to do things. I believe I bought the smallest fridge there is, I did think about a bigger one, but I'm not sure it would fit into the case which is what makes this arrangement so amazing.

Mmm, I have a few more tricks and tips for a later post 😍.

Thank you for the feedback 😘.

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The travel fridge perked my interest too. Could be useful for our boat life. We have a fridge onboard but with the lack of solar in the winter we switched it off and found we could manage using cold areas on the boat ( beers on the stern deck easily reached through the cat flap 😉) but a little travel fridge might be an interesting addition as we ran the engine for a few hours a day in winter to charge batteries and for hot water so this has me thinking. How long does it retain its coolness for when switched off, unplugged?

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I've set the fridge up in the kitchen to run an experiment overnight. I'll make a note of what time I turn it off and then check the internal temperature in the morning - probably about eight hours. If you tell me how long you have the engine off, I'll try that as well. I think it's quite efficient, the insulation is good. You can also keep things warm. I haven't tried that yet, but that might be useful for me in the winter, too :D.

What do you want to keep it in it? I've just checked, it will hold a 500g tub of spread, a pint of milk and a 350g pack of cheese (or 150g tub of yoghurt). It's not tall enough to hold two pints of milk ... unless they were in a jug.

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I do miss travelling; good for you keeping your feet wondering during all this:)

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I had to go, even when cases were rising and before there were vaccinations. The hotel chain I stay has always had very good measures in place and the staff are always lovely.

Hope you soon get to move around again 😘.

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Interesting... I've pretty much stopped travelling. I went to a hotel or two but I just cannot get used to all the "put on mask, take off mask" ritual nor seeing everyone masked around me. Hospital tourism is just not for me... 🤢

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I didn't find it too burdensome when it was necessary and I preferred the benefits of travelling, especially to see family.

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Having a traveling fridge is handy and kitchen items. Not easy to eat with plastic spoons, can, wine and bottle openers are definitely in the travel kit. It's nice to have a refreshing drink while on the road and to keep food cool and well stored.

I couldn't help noticing Caffe Nero. It's one of my favorite coffee shops while living overseas. We don't have them here in the Philippines.

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a refreshing drink

I have finally got around to carrying water with me in my keep cup. I was impressed because it fell over on the journey but nothing leaked from the cup.

It is nice to go into a coffee shop occasionally, I enjoy that, too 😇

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