Monthly Archives: April 2015

Top 10 Worst Airline Passengers I’ve Ever Encountered

Upset businesswoman checking in at airport ticket counter

Why is it that when people travel, so many of them lose their manners?

Is it that flying makes people feel elite and gives them a sense of entitlement at the expense of others? Or is it the stress that wears people down so they become incapable of acting on their best behaviour?

For the most part people aren’t so bad.  However I sure have met a few gems over the course of my travels.   Even if you don’t travel often, you’ve probably met your fair share as well.

If you’re like me, I’m sure that whenever you get into your seat on an aircraft where the seat next to you is empty, you keep your fingers crossed hoping and praying that nobody will sit next to you. But just when you think you’re home free, that stand-by passenger who gets on the plane last minute rushes down the aisle in your general direction. You size him or her up as they approach, assessing other vacant seats, and avoiding eye contact with them, thinking, hoping, that just “maybe they are sitting there and not next to me!”…or not.

So there you are,  all nice and cozy, seated with a complete stranger.   Let’s just hope they aren’t anything like some of these passengers that made my personal top 10  list of the worst airline passengers I’ve ever met.

Note that these are not in any particular order and that I have excluded those that are not acting out deliberately (i.e. crying babies). Enjoy!

  1. The Starfish-He Will Spread Out All Over You

starfish

Very shortly after I was seated on a long haul flight, an average sized man sat next to me.  I was relieved, thinking, that he didn’t seem so bad at all.  Well, immediately after take-off, he fell asleep and proceeded to slowly spread out in starfish position.  I was in a window seat and he in the aisle.  As his leg slowly pressed harder and harder on mine, his arm on the armrest did the same.  Initially, I thought he was getting fresh with me, so I moved abruptly pretending to access my bag below the seat in front of me giving him a big jolt but to no avail.  Before I knew it, his arm kept falling in my lap and his leg as spread out as far in my direction as possible.  He would not wake up, nor budge for the entire 5 ½ hour flight.

2. The Queen –She Commands First Class Service in Coach Economy

Queen

I was seated in seat 13A on a Dash 8, which is the worst seat on the plane. It’s very back row of a very tiny aircraft with minimal overhead cabin space. My briefcase (because of the wheels) would not fit in the overhead bin so I had no choice but to put it under the seat in front of me along with my purse.  I have very long legs so I was already very cramped which I’m not complaining about. I actually don’t mind being stuffed into the back corner of a plane.  It can be quite cozy.  The next thing I know, The Queen has arrived, fur coat, Coach handbag and all.  She sits next to me and immediately expresses that she has a problem with the baggage at my feet because she “has an arthritic ankle and needs the extra leg room”, where MY feet are! She demands that I remove my bags, which were not infringing on her legroom at all! I apologized nicely saying that my briefcase doesn’t fit in the overhead so I have it below my feet and reminded her that she has the whole aisle in addition to the space at her feet to spread out. She says to me “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day but your bag needs to go because I need the legroom!” I was enraged and told her that if she needed the room, she should have paid for the premium seat! She calls the flight attendant over and insists they remove my bags (including my purse!) and store them in first class! There isn’t even a business class section on these planes! I didn’t want to get into a full out fight and get kicked off the plane, so I sucked it up and told the flight attendant that she could take all my of bags.  That was an awkward next 3 hours!

3. The King –He is Above The Rules

kingOn a flight with severe turbulence passing over an area where just the previous day it had been in the news that several passengers were injured because of turbulence, I met The King.  As the turbulence increased in severity and the flight attendants insisted that everyone stay seated and fasten their seat belts, this very large gentleman who was about 6’5 and 250 lbs decided that it was a good time for him to stand up and put his shoes on! He was in the aisle with his foot on the armrest right in front of me.  I was afraid that the next jolt of turbulence would send him plummeting on top of me and crush me, so I politely asked him if he was aware that the seat belt sign was on. He tells me that he was and he didn’t care. He completely ignores the flight attendants well.   He needed to put his shoes on and standing up even though he was seated in an exit row and had all the legroom he needed.  Fortunately he sat down before the turbulence got really bad!

4. The Baby Daddy-He Wants YOU to Babysit His Baby

BabyDaddy

It never would have even occurred to me that anyone could have the gall to do what The Baby Daddy did.  I was seated watching a movie when a man holding an infant started waving at me as to attract my attention.  After I removed my headphones, he asks me “Hey, do you mind holding my baby? I need a break and I’m tired of holding him.” I couldn’t believe it. Did I look like some kind of babysitter? Or was it just because I’m a woman that I’m supposed to like holding babies? Seriously?!?!? I politely told him, “No, sorry, I don’t hold babies.” How awkward is that? So he moved along down the aisle and asked the next lady he saw the same question! For the record, he was not in any sort of distress and neither was the child.

5. The Seat Kicking Couple-They Are Getting Hot and Heavy Behind You and Don’t Need a Room
couple making out on plane

Seat kickers are the worst!!!  Especially the ones who clearly don’t give two #$%#’s, like this couple I had seated behind me once.  They were going through phases of intensely making out and tickling each other and hence all of the kicking. And like bad children, as soon as the flight attendant came by, they stopped so they weren’t caught.  This went on for over 2 hours.  And for the intermittent bouts of silence, who knows what happened there.  Gross!

6. The Party Princess-You Can Smell the Party On Her

hickeyNaturally I met this one on a long-haul flight.  This girl smelled like booze, had the worst body odor I have ever smelled on a woman and her neck was covered in hickies.  The worst part was, for the entire flight she felt the need to continuously adjust the fresh air vent, raising her arm above me.  The smell was unbearable.  Even my scarf couldn’t mask it.  When we landed, I couldn’t help but oversee that she was texting her boyfriend about how much she missed him-l I wonder what he thought about her “condition”? *sigh*

7. The Carry-On Cow- She Knows No Limit to Carry On Baggage Allowance

lady with too much baggageThis is nobody in particular.  We have all seen this person.  You know, the one with 3 or 4 carry-on bags, sometimes even a large suitcase who stands in the aisle looking puzzled as to why their bags don’t fit in the overhead bin.  I have no idea why most airlines do nothing to prevent people from getting on board with oversized or multiple pieces of luggage. Every time I board a plane, my blood boils just a bit looking at all of the bags people will try to bring on board.  This irritates me because those travellers hog all of the overhead bin space, meaning that there wont’ be any room for my appropriately sized carry-on and I’ll have to stow that under my feet for the whole flight. If their bags are oversized, they will have to be checked after they board.  Lots of people do this on purpose so they don’t pay the check baggage fee, and so often that this is apparently the #1 cause of flight delays.    Airlines need to get up to speed on this problem!

8. The Octopus-She Will Spread out in Ways You Never Thought Possible

The OctopusOn a very cramped flight where my knees were uncomfortably pressed against the seat in front of me, I encountered The Octopus.  She was worse than the starfish.  She was seated in front of me and had an entire row to herself, 3 seats and all. But she decided that she needed more room than that, so she decided to recline all of the seats in her row so she could lie down and spread herself out entirely! When I asked her nicely if she could put the seat up because none of us behind her had any room to begin with, she just laid back down and said “No, I am entitled to all of the space I need.”  Things started to escalate between us all and fortunately, the flight attendant stepped in and insisted she put the seats back in the upright position.

9. The Ignorant– Assigned Seating is Meaningless to Her

Boarding PassOne time when I was boarding a plane, I noticed there was a lady seated in my seat.  This is a common mistake, so no big deal.  However when I showed the woman my boarding pass and said that she was in the wrong seat, she just nodded her head and dove back into her book.  We were told that this was a full flight prior to boarding, so it wasn’t like I could just take a seat elsewhere.   I asked her what seat she was supposed to be in and she just kept ignoring me as if I would somehow just disappear if she didn’t look at me.  I’m sorry but if you can read the flight number and the gate number to get on your flight, you most certainly can read your seat number!  The line-up behind me was growing. My patience and the patience of the other passengers behind me was thinning.  There was no flight attendant in sight so I decided to make the executive decision to stow my bag and just physically pick her up and take her out of the seat and stand her in the aisle. Then I sat in my seat.  She just stood in the aisle looking very perplexed and sat in the next available seat.

10. The Clueless Guy-He Just Doesn’t Get Why He Has to Take Every Coin Out of His Pocket at the Security Checkpoint

h-armstrong-roberts-man-wearing-suit-looking-distressed-pointing-to-empty-pocket-pulled-out-of-pantsThis guy made me laugh to tears, so I saved him for last.  It was rush hour at the airport and really busy at the security checkpoint.  To give people the benefit of the doubt, it’s easy to forget to remove a belt or a piece of jewellery when you’re rushing through security but this guy took the cake.  He went through the metal detector at least 5 times! Each time he went through, he removed a watch, then his belt, then his shoes, then coins from one, yes just one pocket…And finally he went through a last time after he removed the change in his other pocket!  It was absolutely hysterical how clueless he was.  It was so ridiculous that I was thinking that it was some sort of prank but alas it wasn’t.

I hope you had a good laugh reading these and that you don’t ever get seated next to any of these poorly behaved travellers. Now that pretty much everyone has access to a camera on their phones, entire websites and twitter accounts dedicated to shaming passengers have popped up and are rapidly gaining in popularity.  My personal favourite is www.PassengerShaming.com, a site started by a sassy flight attendant.

In the meantime, travel safe my friends and good luck out there! It’s a zoo!

Cheers,

TSW

 

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Love and Romance en Route

The Unique Challenges Frequent Travellers and Their Loved Ones Face When Dating and Maintaining Long Term Relationships

A businessman flirting with his PA on a flight

In Hollywood films, business travellers are often portrayed as living extravagant lifestyles where they are away from home 90-99% of the time and enjoying exciting adventures, often which involve infidelity.

Of course what happens in the movies is not truly representative of what happens in real life.  However the stereotypes of the business traveller that Hollywood has created for us, can on occasion, cause trouble for us frequent travellers in our real life relationships.  In particular, for those of us who are romantically involved with people who do not travel frequently for work.

In reality, most frequent travellers are not away from home 90% of the time.  It’s more likely to be along the lines of between 30-70%.  What Hollywood films typically don’t show you is that you really spend the bulk of your time in transit, meeting with customers and working on reports in hotel rooms.  As such, most of the people you are interacting with are either your customers, people in the service industry and other travellers who are also on the move.   The lifestyle is transient.  You go wherever your work takes you and never stay anywhere or with anyone too long.  When you do engage with others, those interactions are most often brief and superficial.  That being said,  although you may be meeting a lot of people, most of them will not be dating material.  Especially your clients! Don’t ever make the mistake of getting romantically involved with your clients. Need a refresher on why this is a bad idea? Read my previous blog post “How to Handle Clients Who Want More Than What You’re Selling

So let’s say you’ve met someone special, now what?

If your career involves a significant amount of travel and you are romantically involved with someone, whether you realize it or not, you are in some form of a long distance relationship (LDR). After all, if you and your significant other are away from each other more than 30% of the time, does it really matter if you live in the same house, same city, are a short-haul flight away, or even live in the same time zone?

This frequent flyer lifestyle poses a unique challenge to not only dating but also maintaining long term relationships, and not everyone is cut out for it.

My longest relationships have been either long distance or with salesmen. What do these have in common? That travel is a fundamental, non-negotiable element of the relationship.

Setting Ground Rules For Communication

When you are in a relationship where one person is travelling a lot for work or if you are in a LDR, it is all the more essential that you communicate openly and effectively about everything. Setting aside even a small amount of time each day at a mutually convenient time for you to touch base, can be immensely helpful in solidifying your relationship, even if it is just to say briefly how your day was and remind your partner that you are thinking of them. Making sure you are on the same page about the amount of communication you will have is also key.  For example, if you are busy travelling and in and out of meetings all day, your parter should be aware of this and not be calling you 10 times a day to ask you what colour you think the living room should be painted, or to give you updates on the weather back home. Setting ground rules and maintaining proper communication is essential to building and maintaining trust in your relationship. In my experience, this is often difficult for both individuals, but more so for the one staying at home.

Hollywood films have done us business travellers no justice in this department, portraying us as such a promiscuous bunch.  In reality, this is so untrue.  The travelling, the meetings, the reports… all of it is time consuming and exhausting. If you are in a relationship with someone you love and are committed to them, you won’t stray but rather look forward to returning home to their warm embrace.  But yes, certainly there are people out there who do cheat and in most cases they do so because of problems in their relationship, not because of their choice in careers.  Overcoming this stigma is not an easy task and hence why I typically date men who also have careers which require them to travel because they ‘get it’.

Dating the Non-Traveller:

Many people who do not travel for work may initially be “OK” with their significant other travelling often, but after a while, their tolerance dissipates and the relationship can break down. I’ve heard things such as, Why can’t I come with you?” or Can’t you just cancel your business trip or come home early to be with me?”.

I mean, I’m sure it would be a blast for my partner to sit and rot in my car all day long with nowhere to go while I’m in and out of sales calls and all, but really???  Just like it would be so awesome for us to not be able to go on that vacation because I won’t be making that commission on that deal I could have made on that business trip I cancelled, right???

But the problem is, if you say these things to your partner, it may come across as being cold, uncaring and make it seem as though you don’t want to spend time with them.  That can create insecurity, suspicion and jealousy. Trust me, that is not a fun path to travel down!

The Long Distance Relationship (LDR):

Contrary to popular belief, true LDR’s aren’t so bad. I realize this may sound bizarre, but I find it easier to go to the airport once or twice a month to have a romantic weekend with a significant other than I do to drive to a nearby city several times a week. The reason being is that this way when we are together, I can devote 100% to my significant other which won’t be interrupted by work and other day to day distractions and when we are apart,  I get all of the “me time” I need and I can give my 100% at work.

The only major setback to LDR’s is that if things get serious, which they ultimately will if things go well, is that at some point, one of you will have to make the move.  That move may involve one of you quitting your job if you are unable to relocate with your current company.  I seriously considered doing this once, but for various reasons, I  decided that in the long term, that this would have been a very poor decision.

Overall, there are a significant number of challenges facing travelling businessmen and women when it comes to dating and maintaining long term relationships.  It takes a lot of work to “go the distance” sort to speak.  In reading this, I hope that I didn’t disappoint too many of you who were hoping to read the 50 Shades version of Up in the Air- Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but it’s not all Hollywood cracks it up to be.

I would love to hear from other travelling business professionals about the challenges you face or have faced in developing and maintaining romantic relationships.

In the meantime, safe travels fellow travelling salesmen and women.

Bon Voyage!

 

TSW

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Why B2B Sales is Really B2B2C: A Two Phase Sales Process

“Sell a man a product, and you’ve made a sale.  Teach a man how to sell your product to his customer and you have a business partner.”-TSW 

Man Holding Childs Hand

In my industry, which is the medical field, I often come across clients who have purchased products that they simply do not use (not mine of course!).  When I ask them about it, I get responses ranging from “Oh, I forgot about that!” to “Yeah, that machine cost me $100,000 and I can’t figure out how to use it.”

What a terrible position to be in!

So, how did they get there?

Surely, they must have thought that those products were wonderful at the time of purchase so what happened afterwards?

The problem is that all too often in Business to Business (B2B) sales, a representative sells a product or service to a business and then they move on to the next customer.  Sure, the representative has done his or her job of completing the B2B transaction, but just that alone.  When the rep stops here, they have ended the sales process prematurely.   You might argue, “But they made the sale?” And yes, you are correct, but only that.

By leaving the business to fend for themselves to figure out how to complete the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sale and if that business does not have the knowledge and tools they require to sell that product to the consumer, the representative has failed.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well that’s not my problem! I have a quota to make and I don’t get paid to be a hand holder”.  Well actually you do, or rather you should. At absolute minimum, offer your assistance post-sale, otherwise you might as well be selling snake oil.

If you want continued business and a good reputation, you’d better be sure that your client is capable of relaying the features and benefits of your product or service to their customer.  Otherwise, that fancy piece of equipment or innovative new product will simply just sit on their shelf collecting dust and one day you’ll receive a phone call from them inquiring about your return policy.

Of course, not all clients are created equal and certainly not all of them require hand holding.  However, when you are making the sale, keep in mind that after the sale you should always do some sort of follow up, the degree of which will vary depending on your client.  For this reason, I believe that making a business to business sale, is a two phase process as follows:

Phase 1: B2B Sale

“Sell a Man a Product and You Have a Sale.”

This is the traditional sales process as everyone knows it.  Prospect, qualify, ask for the order and close the deal.  I will not elaborate on this phase in this article.

Phase 2: Imparting the Knowledge for the B2C Sale

“Teach a Man How to Sell Your Product to His Customer and You Have a Business Partner.”

After you make the sale, both you and your client are excited; You about making the sale and your client about receiving that fabulous new product.

You, the sales rep mistakenly assumes that your client remembers your entire sales pitch and is just as eager and capable as you to impart this knowledge onto their customer.

Before you get too carried away with excitement, consider the following:

  • Your client is a business owner or decision maker, not a sales representative
  • Time may elapse between when the sale is made and when the customer receives their product. It’s only human nature to forget. After all, we aren’t all information sponges!
  • The reasons WHY your client bought the product- Did they have an existing need or did you create a need for them? Will that “need” dissipate after you walk out the door?

What should you do to avoid buyer’s remorse?

Two words: FOLLOW UP!

  1. At the Time of the Sale: Even though you should know the answer, ASK your client how they plan on selling your product to their customer or rather how they will incorporate your product into their business model. This will give you an opportunity to listen to their version of your sales pitch.  What did they pick up on? What was most important to them? What did they forget?  Make sure to fill in all the gaps before you walk out that door and ensure that they know how to get in touch with you or your company’s customer service department should they require further assistance.
  1. When the Order is Received: Whether you personally deliver the product or if it was delivered by a courier, touch base with your client to ensure that the product was received in proper condition and ask them if they have any questions. If the product is complicated, they and their staff may require training not only on the use of the product itself, but also what they should say to their customer when recommending the product.
  1. Two to Four Weeks Post Delivery: Touch base with your client. I would recommend a follow up visit to make sure that your client has all of the information and tools they require. Some team members may need additional assistance or training. Or perhaps they may have lost or gained a key staff member who requires training.  Your client may  also have many additional questions about the product as they use it or simply need a refresher.  If all is going well, they might even be in a position to reorder or want to discuss what other products you might happen to have in your portfolio which is all the more reason for you to be there.
  1. Regular Visit: Back to the Sales Cycle: If you customer was pleased with their buying process, they will want to see you again and continue to do business with you.  They may even want to act as a referral!

If you want to maintain a successful career in sales, you never want to make your customer feel sold and abandoned.  It is your job as a sales rep not only to sell your product but to work with your customer in a mutually beneficial working relationship where both of you grow your business together.

Never forget to follow up!

Happy Sales!

TSW

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Why You Shouldn’t Always Trust Hotel Websites

bates_motel_embed1

Have you ever booked a hotel online which you thought looked great on the hotel website only to discover that it more closely resembles The Bates Motel upon your arrival?  And found yourself wondering, “What the heck am I doing here? Why on earth did I book this wretched place?”  You are not alone!

Quite often hotel websites can be very misleading.  They contain photos of hotel rooms and facilities that may have been taken 10-20 years ago, or the last time the hotel was renovated.  Another scam is that some hotel chains may have standard photographs of hotel rooms that they use to represent all hotels in that particular chain even though in reality, some of their hotels are high end and others more closely resemble 1 star motels.  How are you to know the difference?

Another kicker is that usually by the time you arrive at the hotel (or motel), you won’t be allowed to cancel without any penalty.  Most hotels have very strict cancellation policies which usually require that you provide 24-48 hours notice or more to cancel your reservation.

Websites like TripAdvisor can be immensely helpful when selecting a hotel because for the most part, the reviews are legitimate.  Occasionally however, especially if the town you plan to stay in is quite small, even the top rated hotel might not just be up to your usual standards.  Sometimes even the top rated hotel can be well, much, much worse than you had ever imagined.  Below are some of my hotel booking horror stories:

Oriental Working Girl Oasis

Oriental Room

I needed to stay at a hotel that was relatively close to my first appointment that I had scheduled for early the following morning.  After reviewing all of the hotels on TripAdvisor (but without reading the reviews I must add!), I booked myself into a hotel that was rated 4/5 stars, was very highly rated in the provincial hotel rating system and wasn’t cheap. At $175 per night,  how bad could it be?

Upon my arrival at this “hotel”, I quickly realized that it was more of a motel and located within walking distance from a strip club.  In the hotel lobby, I noticed that the high ranking they received from the provincial hotel rating system was well out of date. They put me in a room that I can only describe as an ‘Oriental Working Girl Oasis’, to put it nicely.  The picture of this Oriental themed room is from the hotels website and was clearly taken before it was ever used.  What you can’t see in this picture is that the room:

  • had mirrors all around the bed and on the ceiling
  • stunk like cigars and perfume
  • had no windows, just a sliding door to the street
  • and everything was covered in dust (clearly nobody was using the desk!)

I didn’t want to touch or use anything in that room.

So what did I do?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I kept all of my clothes on including my boots and a hat, drank a bottle of wine, passed out on the bed (on top of the covers on my jacket) and just got up and left immediately for my meeting the next morning. I didn’t even open my suitcase. I left it in the car because I was sure that some sort of vermin or insects would get into it. I know this doesn’t sound very classy, but in speaking with other sales representatives, I’m certain that I’m not the only one who has experienced this!

In doing some research, I discovered that this small town with a population of just over 50,000 people has 4 strip clubs.  That’s 1 strip club per 12,500 people! In Canada, Windsor and Montreal both claim to have the highest number of strip clubs in Canada. Windsor has 10 strip clubs to service a population of 217,000 (ratio of 1:21,700) and Montreal has 75 strip clubs to service a population of 1.62 Million people (ratio of 1: 21,600).  Based on this basic internet research I’ve done, I’m pretty sure I was staying in the Strip Club Capital of Canada!   Next time around, I stayed at a very nice place that was over an hour from my first meeting.

 

Escort Escapade Hotel: The 5 Star Experience

woman-man-hotel-120427

This hotel I found online and not on a trusted traveler site.  I was looking for a nice hotel in this particular city where I had an early meeting the next morning.  In an internet search, this 5 star hotel came up.  The website looked nice and the pictures of the room looked fabulous.  The price was decent as well.  I must add that this hotel website was in both English and French and the English side didn’t seem to make too much sense to me.  The gist was that it was ideal for all business travelers and it had photos of what appeared to be business or high class couples enjoying champagne in the hotel room.  When I went to make the reservation, I noticed that you could only do so if you paid in full with PayPal in advance.  I called the hotel and they informed me that they do not accept credit cards but will accept cash or PayPal.  This was a HUGE red flag!  I asked my coworker to read the French side of the webpage, and well, let’s just say that there was a lot of information about this place that was either not correctly translated into English or not translated period!  In particular, this “hotel” offered packages for business travelers where the hotel room was accompanied by an escort! I was sure glad to find this out BEFORE I decided to book this hotel and show up.  Needless to say, I found alternative accommodations that did not come with an escort!

Hotel Hell

hotel corridor

I discovered this gem which I call “Hotel Hell” when I first started out in sales.  One of my superiors recommended to me that when I am researching hotels, that I should book those that were either in close proximity a major highway or the airport, depending on my schedule, so that is precisely what I did.   However, having just researched location and price, I did not spend much time researching the quality of these hotels and now I am much the wiser!

This hotel was supposedly close to the airport and very reasonably priced.  I had a very early flight the next morning, so I figured it would be fine to just spend the night.  As I pulled up to the hotel, I quickly realized that it was in much poorer shape than the photos on the website had indicated.  I noticed a bar/club/bowling alley on the main floor of this “hotel” and as I was pulling into the driveway, I witnessed a drug deal clearly taking place in front of the hotel in broad daylight.  I immediately thought I would be a target of some sort of crime since I was driving an Audi A4, which was a complimentary upgrade from the rental car company. So much for that being a blessing! I hesitated going into the hotel, but I didn’t know where else to go since there were no other hotels in sight, because it was NOWHERE NEAR THE AIRPORT and I also didn’t want to just leave my belongings in car since I was sure it would be broken into.

At the front desk, I was informed that I had to pay in full for the room in advance and they asked me if I needed the room for the night or just a few hours??? Yikes!! Now if that wasn’t a bad sign, I don’t know what is!

I proceeded to the room and well, I couldn’t believe my eyes! These are some highlights:

  • The huge old school 27″ TV had a large sign on it saying “Please Do Not Remove From Room
  • The bed sheets were filthy, torn and had clear hand prints on them
  • The window opened to the roof outside and had no locking mechanism
  • There was no phone in the room
  • Mouse or maybe rat excrement in the room corners

So what did I do?

I didn’t even want to sit on the bed it was so horrifically disgusting.   I needed to find another hotel room ASAP.  There was just NO way I was staying here.  The problem was, I was in an unfamiliar city, there was no phone book in the room and my computer was dead (but I’m sure there was no internet access anyways!) so I had no way of figuring out another place to go.  I had misplaced my city map and I felt lost.

So what did I do? I called my ex-boyfriend, whom I hadn’t spoken with in at least 5 years, hoping that he still lived in this city  which is where he had moved here after our break-up.  Luckily, he answered the phone and bailed me out.  He escorted me out of the hotel (no pun intended) which made me feel safer since he was a big guy and he drove with me to a much nicer hotel that actually was close to the airport. I’ll never forget when he arrived at my hotel room, he said to me, “What are you doing here? I wouldn’t even &*%$ prostitutes in this hotel!”  That was reassuring!

Needless to say, I’ve never stayed at discount hotels since, even if they are part of a major chain!

I also make sure to thoroughly research the reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and read them in great detail.  When booking hotels now, my preferences are in the following order:

  1. Hotel amenities
  2. Positive Reviews*** MAKE SURE YOU READ THE REVIEWS FOR DETAILS! I CAN’T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH!
  3. Price
  4. Location

So the next time you’re booking a hotel, make sure you do your research and not just blindly trust the hotel website because otherwise, you might just be in for a horrific surprise.

Bates Hotel anyone? Count me out!

If you have the time, take 5 minutes to write a review of the hotels you stay at regardless of whether or not your review is good or bad.  All of us depend on those honest reviews.

Safe travels my friends.

Cheers,

 

TSW

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Canadian Healthcare: “Free” but Certainly Not Consistent

Canada Map

When you travel as much as I do, it is pretty much inevitable that at some point, you will succumb to illness.  Regardless of how much effort I put into eating healthy, working out, washing or sanitizing my hands at every opportunity I get while I’m on the road, I occasionally get sick and require medical treatment.

Since my territory is the entire country of Canada, I often get sick while away from home and therefore am unable to see my family doctor.  Over the years, I have noticed a significant variance in the healthcare treatment we have in Canada, in particular the difference between provinces.

For my American readers, in Canada we have provinces (not providences) which are equivalent to individual states.  Most of you are aware that in Canada,  our healthcare is “free” and covered by our government.  I say “free” in quotations because we do pay for it in the form of taxes which are automatically deducted from our income.  The most common misconception about our healthcare system here in Canada is that all Canadians have full and equal access to all healthcare professionals.  In my travels, I have discovered that this is clearly not the case.

Fortunately, I have not required medical treatment in all of the provinces, however I would like share a combination of my personal experiences and those of my associates in this post to illustrate the gross inequality of our healthcare system.

Below I have ranked the provinces in terms of the quality of healthcare they provide and the average wait times for a “walk-in” to see a doctor.  Note that I have only listed provinces for which I have had direct experience in or have heard feedback on.  I cannot comment on the others.

Best: BRITISH COLUMBIA “We sincerely apologize for the wait.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: <1 hour

To date, I have sought treatment in this province 4 times and I have never spent more than 1 hour in total from checking in to walking out with a prescription as a walk-in from out of province.  Two times I had eye infections and the others I was sick and required antibiotics.  Every time, yes 4/4 times, the nurse or receptionist apologized to me saying “We are so sorry that you have to wait to see a doctor! I promise it won’t be much longer.” This is unheard of in my home province of Ontario.

NEW BRUNSWICK “Well come on in and I’ll wrangle up a doctor for ya!”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: <1h hour

This province is one of the most sparsely populated provinces in Canada which might explain the exceptional treatment that I have seen.  My friend had completely severed his biceps tendon while trying to push a car out of the snow.  We walked into the hospital emergency department, spoke with a triage nurse in less than 15 minutes, were in to see a general physician within 30 minutes and an orthopedic surgeon within an hour.  If I recall correctly, I think the triage nurse said something to the effect that “Relax, take a seat and I’ll wrangle up a doctor for ya!  I think you’ll end up seeing Dr. Y. who is here today and he did a great job on me and lots of my coworkers.” Maritimers are an exceptionally friendly bunch.  At the 2 hour point, my friend was having an MRI and he was out the door with a sling and a promise for a call back with the results by the day’s end.  By the end of the day, he had a surgery date scheduled for less than two weeks later.  This is completely unheard of anywhere else in Canada.

ONTARIO “Know where to go for appropriate care or wait and rot.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 2-4 hours

Ontario is the most populated province in Canada..  In order to receive the appropriate care, you must know where to go.  We have a service called TeleHealth Ontario which is a toll free number that anyone can call and speak to a nurse and they will advise you as to whether or not you should see your family doctor,  go to a walk-in clinic, the emergency department or to call 911.  Generally speaking, Ontario is quite good for healthcare if you go to the appropriate place for your particular ailment.  If you have a legitimate emergency and go to the hospital, you will be seen immediately and receive excellent care.  If you have a non-urgent condition, you can expect to wait approximately 2-6 hours (depending on the condition) to receive treatment.  You may have to wait but, you will receive excellent medical care.  Going back to my friends’ experience with getting an MRI in New Brunswick; I was particularly impressed with the speediness of his diagnostics because when I had a bad concussion and was experiencing olfactory hallucinations (smelling things that are not there), I saw my family doctor and had to wait 8 months for a CT scan.  I thought that was completely unacceptable.  Needless to say, by then my brain had healed, or at least I’d like to think so.

SASKATCHEWAN “You’re close enough to a nurse.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 3-6 hours, or maybe never!

Fortunately, I have never required medical treatment in this province.  Although I do not have any direct experience here, one of my clients told me this story.  She had to take her mother into the hospital for an impacted colon.  Her mother had a history of bowel problems and had prior surgery so she was well aware of what symptoms would qualify her condition as an emergency.  At the hospital, the intake nurse decided that this was not an emergency or a typical non-urgent condition, which meant that she was in some sort of grey area where she was not going to see a doctor, period.  My client was with her mother at the time and made a big fuss over this, as anyone in their right mind should do.  Ultimately, the nurse decided that since my client was a veterinary technician, that she was “close enough to being a nurse”, so she gave my client medications and verbal instructions on what to do if her mother’s condition worsens.  None of the medications were labelled nor were any written instructions provided.  This is something I would expect from a third world country! Fortunately, the impaction passed and she did not require further treatment.

The Worst: QUEBEC “You’re better off going back to Ontario or go to the US.”   

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 36-72 hours

Yes, it gets worse!  Quebec is by far the worst province in Canada to receive healthcare.  On one trip, I had a very severe bacterial infection in my chest and in required antibiotics ASAP so that I didn’t develop pneumonia.  In the late evening when my condition worsened, I called around including the emergency department and they informed me that my best bet was to simply show up at a walk-in clinic at 7am when they opened and I might be able to see a doctor in the next day or two.  So, that’s exactly what I did.  When I showed up at 7am the walk-in clinic was fully booked for the next 2 days! Is it just me or do they have some deluded idea of what a walk-in clinic is??? They told me that I could either show up at another clinic tomorrow morning to book an appointment, or go to the emergency department and wait a guaranteed 36 hours minimum! I lividly told the nurses, “I could be dead of pneumonia by then!!” and then they told me, “You’re better off going back to Ontario or go to the US”.  So, I cancelled the rest of my business trip and drove home to Ontario where I saw a doctor right away and got the medication I needed.  Sometimes you just have to do things like that.  If you don’t have your health, there isn’t much you can do in life.  Know your priorities.

Ironically, Quebecers pay the highest income taxes in Canada.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences with healthcare.  In particular, to my fellow Canadians, I am interested in hearing your experiences with our healthcare system in each province.  I would also like to hear from my American readers about your experience with the promptness of healthcare in the USA and if it varies by state.

Travel Safe and Keep Healthy fellow Travellers.

Cheers,

 

TSW

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