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Waving the white flag of surrender

I surrender; I quit; I give in. I wave the white flag to travel fatigue. Actually, I waved my blue Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Visa card, and it is to be hoped that this will save me from travel fatigue.

You see, I have booked a room at the Yotel hotel (which is definitely NOT to be confused with no-tell hotels) for my six-hour layover at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport enroute to Italy three weeks from now.

I thought long and hard about this step. In the past, I've always thought it best to meet travel fatigue head-on; never give in, never surrender. Keep moving, was my motto as I dragged my carry-on baggage from sad airport cafes to massage chairs to duty-free shops and back to more airport cafes. It can be agonizing, trying to stay alive during layovers. (I never sleep on flights -- never -- so there is no hope at all that I might rest and awake in Europe, refreshed.)

Last year was especially bad. After a mid-morning landing in Frankfurt, I pushed myself to spend the afternoon in the European Central Bank, meeting potential colleagues, drinking coffee and discussing the brief history of the euro. By 5 p.m. I was severely nauseous from exhaustion and it took a couple of days to really recover.

That was a rather extreme case, of course. Usually, I don't try to tackle too much during layovers but instead, try only to survive until I reach my destination. Then, I go for walks in the sunshine and try to perk up the natural way.

This trip, with 6 hours to kill in Amsterdam between my flight from Canada and my flight to Rome, I had thought I would visit the city -- go for a walk in the sunshine and try to perk up. As usual.

But I've come to admit that to do so would likely have the feel of a forced death march rather than a pleasure stroll along Amsterdam's canals. Exhaustion will do that to a person.

So for $60, I will instead have my own tiny little room in the Yotel hotel, a chain that specializes in offering short-term, very small but private hotel rooms, mostly at airports. For people like me, who have decided to succumb to their slothful natures.

My $60 will buy me a bed in a secure little haven where I can at least lay comfortably in a stupor; a shower, so I can try to refresh myself post-stupor; free Wifi in case I can rouse myself from my stupor long enough to perhaps blog about it; TV in case I can't rouse myself enough to blog, but only to watch cartoons in Dutch.

My greatest hope is that my Yotel experience will not only aide other travellers (I'll report back on the experience) but allow me to arrive in Rome mid-afternoon in half-decent shape. My body will have gone about 30 hours without sleep but with luck, I'll be in decent condition to visit my landlady for a while, shop for a few groceries to stock my apartment, and most importantly, enjoy my first dinner in Rome for 2011.

Wish me luck!

Comments (19)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I think having some rest at a Yotel and arriving in Rome refreshed after those long 30 hours without sleep and traveling is a great idea. I think I've read something about them on ST but I'm not sure that I've read a review on them from someone on ST, so your experience will be very helpful to others thinking about the Yotel option.

I bet you're pretty excited that it is now only three more weeks before Italy. Yay!


I don't think you will regret it. Our recent experience in Heathrow for a 4 hour Air Canada delay sounds much like yours. Thankfully we met Ian, a guy in duty-free and it helped pass the time.

I think it was Andasamo who stayed in a Yotel on one of her trips - I'd never heard of them before but decided it was definitely something I'd consider if I ever have a long layover. The shower will be awesome too; I always feel so icky after a long plane trip. I don't think you'll regret it at all, and the price seems pretty reasonable too.

this is so well thought of Sandra. I think I am going to map all airport with a Yotel and do the same on our next long haul trip!


Hi Kathy, I am sorry that I won't get to see Amsterdam -- your reports from there were so interesting. But I think it deserves a proper visit and not just a rushed few hours!

Kathryn, four hours is a long time to kill, even in an big airport like Heathrow! How was your trip?

Hi Annie, it WAS Anne who had tried the Yotel in Gatwick; we talked about it on Facebook and I dug up her blog posts about it before booking. She had a very good experience; I'm hoping for the same.

Letizia, with the remote, adventure vacations that you take, a Yotel might really break up the trip (especially for young Tea!)See you soon!

Good luck! And if you can actually arrive after 30 hours of travel, chat with your landlady and then grocery shop,you are doing far, far better than I ever could!


I think you've made a good choice, Sandra. I found my Yotel experience very refreshing...still dreaming of the wonderful rainfall-like shower!

It hadn't occurred to me to submit a hotel review - duh! I must write something up.


I am anxious to find out what you think! We have a long lay over coming up in December on the way back from Egypt. This may work well but...would we need to book 3 of them--one for each of us? Guess i should check it out.

Good planning, Sandra. Please try blogging from Italy! Your posts are always entertaining -sorry at your expense it seems. Ciao!


Sandwich, I've done it before but it wasn't pretty! Maybe this year it won't be quite so grueling,,,

Thanks Anne, I hope my experience is as good as yours was -- your blogs about the Yotel helped me make my decision. If we both do ST reviews, they might be helpful for other slow travellers!

Jane, I'll let you know how it works. Perhaps you could get by with two; I think they have doubles, then Casey could have his own (bet he'd love that!)

Thanks menehune, I'll be taking my netbook and I'll definitely be blogging. For me, it's half the fun of a trip; reliving it in print!

I did this once, and it was GREAT! I had time for a nice nap and quick shower! A great break!

Wish we were at the Amsterdam airport on the same day to hang out! I'll be there Thursday night, but only 2 hours.


Hi Palma -- another Yotel fan, great news!

It is too bad our paths never quite cross....one of these years!

chiaro di luna:

Remember to set an alarm in case you do sleep there.
Have a wonderful trip.


"I'll definitely be blogging. For me, it's half the fun of a trip; reliving it in print!"

I couldn't agree more!! I was re-reading my entries from my last trip the other evening and it really does bring things back to life in a way that photos do not. (Although I usually take a thousand photos too! LOL) But reading the thoughts I wrote as they were happening is so wonderfully evocative!


Good point, Chiaro -- it would be awful if I missed the flight to Rome!

Hi Anne, it's a different form of keeping a travel journal -- less private, of course, but still so interesting to look back over. I hope that you'll be able to blog while you're with your Mom this summer in Italy. It will be wonderful to hear about her impressions!

I think you made the right choice. Traveling can be such a grind . . . the thought of actually arriving refreshed and relatively alert is wonderful. I always seem to make some of my biggest blunders during my first day or so in Europe - I blame this on the trek over . . . how wonderful it would be to avoid this!


Thanks Jerry, your earlier argument on ST was very persuasive!


Very cool! I have never tried it but I am just like you in that I never sleep on planes (or buses, or in cars, sometimes on trains though...) And I, too, feel completely exhausted and awful if I try to stay up all day when arriving in Europe, so for me it actually works well to take a nap in the afternoon; I can usually still sleep at night. Two years ago, I flew from DC to Paris, arriving at 6am, then had a four hour or more layover, on to Rome, arriving around noon, and ten took a 2pm train to Lecce - 5 hours and 45 minutes from Rome! That was a lot of travel on no sleep...


Hi Chiocciola, it's great to hear from you!

Your trip to Lecce sounds pretty arduous -- I've had a few somewhat similar and it really grinds you down.

My stay in Yotel will be a kind of experiment to see if it's worth the expense! I'm really hoping that by having at least few hours where I can stretch out and relax (even if I don't actually nap) will be refreshing enough that I'll arrive in halfway decent shape.

I'll report back!

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