This past weekend marked my official return to travel. My daughter had a softball tournament in Hagerstown, Maryland, and we made the 5.5-hour trip north to attend.
Before I left North Carolina, I did a little research to find out Maryland’s current COVID rules, just to make sure there was no mandatory quarantine for people coming from North Carolina, which there was not, so we continued with our arrangements to stay at the Hampton Inn in Hagerstown. These plans differed slightly from previous years. I packed a bunch of hand sanitizer, extra masks, and food and snacks so we would not have to go to a snack bar at the tournament (if it was even open).
Through the Hilton Honors program, I prepaid and checked in online to limit contact once we arrived. I received my key and was asked to wear a mask whenever walking through common areas. I was also told there would be no maid service, so if we needed towels, toiletries or anything else, we could call the front desk. The clerk also informed me breakfast was still being served, but again, masks must be worn until guests are seated to eat.
As I walked down the hallway to our room, I noticed stickers across each doorway that let guests know the room had been cleaned and sanitized. Once the door is opened, the seal is broken and it is clear the room has been occupied and will need to be cleaned before anyone else enters.
I actually brought my own Lysol to clean things like the remote control, but there was no need, as everything was clearly labeled as having been cleaned and sanitized.
The next morning I was curious to see how the hotel was handling breakfast, since it is usually buffet-style. Immediately greeted by a masked worker asking me if I’d like juice, I replied, “Yes.” She went back and got me a plastic cup of orange juice with a lid. I was happy there wasn’t just a pitcher out for everyone to share. It did surprise me there was a table with self-serve, make-your-own breakfast sandwiches with sausage, eggs and bagels. I didn’t feel comfortable with that option, but, luckily, there were plenty of other individually packaged breakfast items to choose from: yogurt, small cereal boxes, muffins, fresh apples and bananas, each wrapped in plastic wrap.
After a full day of softball, we headed back to the hotel, and I was surprised to see a crowded swimming pool. Although it was nice to see kids splashing around and parents hanging out, I was concerned they would allow so many people in the pool area so close together. I thought maybe someone would monitor the pool and only allow half capacity. But, that being said, we just didn’t go swimming in the pool. It’s not a big deal to just avoid situations that don’t feel socially distant enough.
Overall, I felt safe staying at the Hampton Inn. I think the hotel staff are doing a great job of keeping rooms clean, limiting contact and enforcing mask-wearing. It felt great to return to travel!
Next week we will travel again for softball, but this time we are staying at a hotel that is part of a small hotel group. I am curious to see if they will have the same high standards as the larger chains. I’ll bring my Lysol, just in case.
— Tracey Cullen, art director
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