Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Why I Stopped Hoarding Hotel Soap



I used to hoard hotel amenities like the little bars of soap and the small bottles of shampoo. But I don’t anymore and I want to tell you about my transformation in this area.


How it Started

It started innocently enough. When I would go to a hotel for a youth event or band trip in high school I would grab the shampoo & conditioner bottles from the bathroom before checking out. As a young-married I would grab the shower-cap to take home with me if I didn’t use it during our stay.

But those little bottles are so darling, and I found that on multiple-night stays that hotel staff would replenish any and all amenities that appeared to be used up. So, to create the appearance of them being used up, I would stash whatever was left in the morning in my suitcase before they came to refresh the room.

Sure enough, they replaced everything. I found that I could do this each and every morning and build up quite a little store of soaps, shampoos and shower caps.

At some point in married life there came a trend of getting in-room coffee and tea at some hotels. And I found I could do the same trick of stashing the pillow-packs of coffee, the tea bags, and sugar in my suitcase and those too would get replenished each day!


How it Stopped

In a similar way to how I stopped collecting magazines, I finally stopped hoarding these little hotel goodies.

For one thing, it became a storage problem for me. I mean, I wasn’t going to use those little bottles and bars at home and I didn’t travel frequently enough to use them all. I hardly ever used the coffee pillow packs, and I didn’t really much like the tea bags compared to the brand I always favor at home.

So, here was all this loot that kept taking up space in my life and in my home.

But that wasn’t really what did it. I mean, I found places to stick all the little treasures here and there. And then they were out of sight, out of mind.

What really did it for me was moving around the country multiple times. Having so much stuff that needs packed and unpacked prompted me to take an honest look at just how much I was hoarding.

Because really, when all I wanted was to find my son’s bath toys, I didn’t expect to have so many “Bathroom” boxes to go through. And when I wanted bath toys and only found mixed lots of hotel shampoos, no one was served by that.

So, I started to get honest with myself about my hoarding habit and decided to cease the stock-piling.


But It Smells Soooo Good…

So, here I am at this church convention this weekend and would you believe they have the most scrumptious-smelling little bars of soap at the hotel where we’re staying. I mean, absolutely divine. And all I want to do is take ALL the bars home.

And there’s a Keurig coffee-maker in the room. I don’t even have a Keurig at home, but I want to take ALL the little K-cups home with me.

What is with this crazy compulsion?

I have to consciously talk myself out of grabbing everything each day.

It reminds me of the story in the Bible (Exodus 16) when God provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness. God instructed them to just gather up what they needed for each day and no more. And when they gathered up too much, it was spoiled by morning anyway. But there was always plenty to gather each new day.

Whether it’s me and soap or it was the Israelites and manna, trying to store more than needed only backfires and leaves us with something unpleasant to have to manage. Pluswhich, the hoarding in both cases is/was wholly unnecessary!



I’ve never gone a whole day without access to soap or coffee. Even now, back at my house, there are back-ups of full-sized bars of soap in a cupboard in the bathroom; there is coffee in the pantry. To be honest, I’ve never gone a whole day without all of my real physical needs being filled.

God’s provision is abundant, but still I find myself wanting to grab more than I need.

Once again, I talk myself out of taking ALL the amenities.

Before I leave, I’ll lather my hands up and inhale the wonderful aroma of the soap one last time, and I’ll have one last cup of coffee brewed in the Keurig. Then I’ll head back home and enjoy the “amenities” there.

And I will be fine without hoards of things I don’t really need. Better than fine. I will be free.




Is it Really Good Enough?

Yesterday my friend Sarah Bessey shared a link to a guest post by Tara Livesay over at D.L. Mayfield’s blog. In the post Tara Livesay talks about her life in Haiti and her concern about visitors who come for mission trips.

Tara laments the tendency of visitors to view themselves as the heroes and to look at the people of Haiti as “projects.” She writes about the air of superiority and even the disdain with which some visitors view the people of Haiti.

Tara says,

It is not at all unusual to hear visitors botch something up they are working on and say, “Oh well, it is good enough for Haiti.”

That post hit me right between the eyes, because I was one of those visitors. When I was 17 years old (over half my lifetime ago), I went on a week-long mission trip to Haiti.

I know I went there thinking I was going to be a hero. The real truth of that trip is that the people of Haiti made more of an impact on me than I did on them.

When it came down to it, I avoided the hardest work projects because they were too hard. Even when I did help out with doable things, I remember just feeling hot all the time.

My half-baked efforts were far from “good enough for Haiti.” The “project” was too much for me. I failed it.

The only good I did in Haiti was when I joined in their singing. I was terrible at it because I was unsure of the words, their meaning and their pronunciation.

20130405-160409.jpgWhen we gathered with Hatian churches or Haitian school children, there was so much singing. Their singing was so joyful, so exuberant. They knew the words even if I didn’t.

I eeked out the words the best I could manage. And the best thing about singing with them was that it was with them. It wasn’t something I did for them because I was better. It was something we did together.

I still remember some of those songs and I still sing them from time to time. It is part of the lasting impact that the people of Haiti have had on me.

Still, I think part of me has carried a sense of failure that I didn’t make the impact on Haiti that I intended.

My son was in public school when Haiti had been devastated by the earthquake. So I dusted off my photo album from Haiti, made a slide show and spoke to my son’s class. I wanted to do something helpful, to Raise Awareness.

Now though, after reading Tara Livesay’s post I wonder if my little talk only perpetuated the “we as heroes” narrative. Did I use that opportunity to make up for my failure at the “project” earlier in my life?

I started writing this post last night before I went to bed and I have been mulling it over all day. I want to be able to wrap it up in some meaningful conclusion. I can’t seem to do it though because Tara’s post has left me with more questions than answers.

Could it be that is a good thing?

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