"You can't expect, what you don't inspect."
"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."
- Benjamin Franklin
Have you ever lived in a Hotel with a bad shower system?
Maybe there was no water pressure, or the hot water ran out before you was finished, there is numerous reasons the shower in Hotels are inadequate.
There is no way to check this type of shower systems:
a. Maybe they run out of water when there are too many guest.
b. Maybe the tank so small, you get half a good shower.
c. Maybe the owner shuts the electric off a night.
d. Maybe the owner has the temperature so low, it never is really hot.
Hotel in Panjachel, Guatemala
I just moved into the Hospedaje El Viajero on Santander street in Panajachel, Guatemala on Lake Atitlan and these are the Hot Water Faucets. When I saw them, I thought to myself,
"Well, it is a lottery, if I am lucky, I will have a hot shower."
(Not really, I have not had a bad shower in the last eight years of travel.)
The Hotel is excellent, the lady that owns the Hotel is nice, helpful, there is a kitchen for me to cook food. There is a very large parrot, many small ones, then two turtles. Plenty of flowers, plants, however a little noisy on the first floor because she has a laundry service.
Then to boot, every night 5-10 pretty girls move into the double rooms on the second floor.
I will live in this Hotel for seven days, I am still working on understanding whether the hot water is adequate.
I believe there are three strategies for choosing Hotel rooms by Travelers:
1. Pay so much for a Hotel Room that it would seem incredible if the shower was not great. (Then never complain, because you hate to admit you made an expensive bad decision.)
2. Pretend the shower is acceptable, and not complain, then make many juicy rationalizations and excuses why the shower is OK. I often here,
"You really do not need a hot shower in the tropics."
I love a hot shower, and I am accustomed to living the good life, I deserve the best that life can give.
3. The seasoned traveler way, inspect the shower, and never rent a room until he or she is positive the shower is adequate.
I have lived in approximately 1000 Hotel rooms in my 14 years of perpetual travel. And, after year seven of my travels, I gave up on Hotels, it does not matter whether I pay 200 dollars per night or 20, there is no 100 percent way to guarantee the shower is acceptable.
Panajachel, Guatemala Hotels
I am writing this travel tip in Panajachel, Guatemala on Lago Atitlan, which probably has the most ideal climate I have ever experienced on planet earth in the 90 countries I have visited.
This is the best shower system on the planet, if it is working correctly.
This is an on-demand electric hot water shower head, the slower the water the hotter the water. It is the most common way to have a hot water shower on the planet.
Why is this the best hot water shower? You can test it, you can inspect it, and if it working great, it will continue to work great. If there is pressure, it will continue to have pressure, if the water is hot enough, it will always have hot water.
But, you must inspect before you rent the room, or remember,
"You cannot expect, what you do not inspect."
I am Paying 50 Quetzales Per Night or 6.25 Dollars Per Night
This hotel is great, I think maybe the El Amigo probably has better rooms in a lonely sort of way. This hotel has a 20 times better social life, and the owner is a delight, she is attentive, and helpful. The El Amigo is more a weekend party Hotel for the Guatemala City rich kids.
What made me write this Travel Tip?
My friend Chris is living in an incredibly great room in the El Amigo, and his shower in that specific room sucks, he has almost cold water. The elevation his high here, it get cool at night, you need a hot shower here.
I have heard him explain a work around three times.
"I paid 30 USD to join the Regis Hotel which has a hot springs, I go down there to shower."
Then Kim says,
"The shower head in the El Amigo sprays in all directions."
Now, Kim is in my favorite room, it has good Internet because is is close the WIFI router. But, I am thinking to myself,
"Move rooms, the one to the left is the same price."
What are my two friends doing?
I wrote number two above:
2. Pretend the shower is acceptable, and not complain, then make many juicy rationalizations and excuses why the shower is OK.
I know what you, the reader is thinking.
You want to say,
"Move into a good hotel, and pay more."
"I would never live in a Hotel like that."
And, for sure, you will never live in Paradise, you will only get to visit.
Most of the expensive Hotels are noisy in Panajachel, they are on the main street of Santander, which is a zoo, it so noisy, you cannot think. The Hotels I stay in on regular basis are the Posado Don Carlos, the El Amigo, and now the Hospedaje El Viajero, they are all off the road far enough or on dead end streets, they are very quiet.
And, to get quiet, and good shower in Panajachel, may cost 100 USD per night.
My 6.24 Dollar Hotel is 50 times better than a 100 USD per night Hotel?
A 100 USD per night hotel is like a one night stand, none of the residents of the hotel ever stay more than about 5-10 nights. They are hard core tourist running around with their head off, making sure to suck out every possible greedy moment for the 1000's of dollars they are paying.
While, in the three Hotels I mentioned, there will be people living for months, and you can have good friends, not one nighters friends.
Chris and Kim are Smarter than the Average Tourist
They save 2850 U.S. Dollar by living in El Amigo, and excellent Hotel. They are calm, relaxed, and tranquil, because they can easily afford their 150 USD per month Hotel and do not NEED to return home, there is no reason to leave paradise.
The Bundle of Benefits of a Hotel
I laugh with Chris, in reality, for 30 USD he has the number one benefit of one the most expensive hotels in Panajachel. He is using the Hot Springs, pool, and all the benefits of the Hotel for one dollar per day. He has all the benefits of a 100 USD per night Hotel and is paying 6.25 dollars per night.
There is the Porto Lago Hotel, I am going to join soon, I think it is 30 USD per month, and the Hotel is fantastic, I can use the large swimming pool, the sauna, and the workout gym.
I inspect the room, the Hotel, I walk around counting up the benefits. I think in terms of a bundle of benefits. how many benefits does the Hotel have? And, it is amazing the 5 Star Hotels will allow me to buy their benefits for one dollar per day, and allow me to live somewhere else.
I ALWAYS have a Hot Shower anywhere on the Planet
Maybe Chris and Kim need cold showers, I do not, and both of these two people have the option to change rooms in the El Amigo and find a shower that works. Or, they could complain until the owners fix them "Manana."
A savvy traveler has many ways to guarantee he or she lives better than anyone around them. I am 100 percent sure I am more comfortable than people who pay 500 USD per night. When I walk into a Hotel, I appraise the Hotel for sound, noise, and problems. I then choose the best room in the Hotel, move the furniture around, and move rooms if there are small problems.
10 USD or 100 per night, the big difference is the 90 USD.
The Hotel San Antonio in San Pedro on the other side of the lake is one of the most pleasant Hotels I have ever lived in for 6 USD per night.
How do I ALWAYS have a Hot Shower?
I put an electric heater element into this bucket of water, wait about 15 minutes and take a comfortable dip shower.
1. I recommend you always inspect the shower before you rent the room. See if it has hot water and pressure, then if possible look at the hot water tank to see if it is big enough for a hotel. If you have problems, move room, or move hotels, never accept a room or try to not make waves, the people live the best make waves. The best Hotels abroad would have one hot water tank per room, or the on-demand shower head.
2. Back-Up Hot Water System: My bucket above guaranteed I always have a hot shower, I never have to accept a cold shower.
This is the game of Travel, and the seasoned travelers always lives in comfort, get the bes plane tickets, and live a life of luxury. When you fail to play the game, you need to go home, and are grateful to be home.
No more cold showers.
And, you should not be grateful to be home, you deserve to be comfortable both at home, and abroad.
Andy Lee Graham
nabashalam from has written 58 comments
I know you built your own and for a lot cheaper and is disposable but if you want to guarantee a GREAT hot shower
Bring your own...
nabashalam from has written 58 comments
In Germany the houses have electric units similar to them actually installed in the showers and wash basins. They have little reservoirs that heat up instantly. But then I also used to go on picnics with the local nationals that worked on-base and I'd bring a cooler full of beer on ice and they would take the beer and sit it in the sun before they would drink it saying Das Beir ist zu kalt. Est Schlect! They said it's bad for digestion and I think they are right. Cellar temperature is perfect for drinking. Mother nature knows best. Then again their beer is good enough to drink at room temp. Americanish bier ist scheiße... LOL! If you as for a rum and coke on the rocks they give you 2 ice cubes. That's it.
One of their greatest innovations is Rolladen. They are slat shudders built right into the houses window frames. They are great to keep heat in or out and they would be awesome in hurricane prone places.http://www.furniturefromgermany.com/html/european_shutters.html
sorry folks... I'm rambling...
Neil V from has written 46 comments
Great travel tips Andy - classic Andy Graham.
Ps. Today is July 4th, Independence Day. Most of us have the day off.
FrugalTravelsNepal from has written 14 comments
You are so right about the showers when you travel. Here in Nepal the staff gets up at about 4:30 or 5:00 am and take a shower before their morning prayers. Then they turn the water heater off. If there is no hot water and when you complain they tell you to turn on the water and let it run for 20 minutes or so. If that is their solution then that's what they did. It took me a long time to figure it out, but that's Kathmandu. I wrote the solution in my e-book, Nepal: On a Budget.
Yes, the traveler needs to check to see if there is hot water as you've indicated and they will often be told there is solar water heating. It doesn't guarantee a hot shower either. My solution if it's electric heating is to check it after you've checked in and if no hot water get up at 5:30 to see if it's hot. If it is take a shower then. If they tell you it's solar and you still cannot get a good, hot shower in the morning you will need to plan your day to so you can take a shower after the sun has time to heat the water. Sometimes it seems like we want to 'school' the locals. All that does is ruin your day.
Andy, you are right a traveler can either pay for the convenience or save the money and know what they are getting. If you come to little developing countries like Nepal you have to be happy when there is any kind of water that comes out of the tap or when the lights come back on. Expecting such things is just pointless and it will ruin your time here. There are so many things to do and see in places like Nepal that it's worth skipping a few showers. After all, what will you remember? The cold shower or the breathtaking views?
After I graduated from college I traveled around the northeastern US in the back of a box truck with a guy friend. Taking a sponge bath in the Walmart bathroom got old very quickly. My solution was to get a membership in a national health club and whatever town we passed through we had a nice hot shower waiting, or at the very least a hot shower was never more than a day away. Just be careful that you know which places are franchised. Some of the franchised owned facilities gave us problems.
mike99 from has written 30 comments
Andy: How does this "join a hotel" deal work? I never heard of this before? So you get to use the hotel gym, pool, hot springs, and shower but just pay $30/month?
FrugalNapal: what do you mean the franchised gym gave you trouble? If you join 24h fitness they have to let you in each gym nomatter who owns it. Same with Golds.
Also I have been working out some numbers on living in a storage unit. The plan would be to sleep in the day in the storage unit, then go out and drive around at night. Most storge units have gate hours of 6 am to 9 pm so would be ideal to sleep in if climate controlled during the day then off to the 24hour fitness for a shower and the rest of the night.
Gadget from has written 1,018 comments
Many or most Five Star Hotels "Abroad," offer something like swimmming pool privelages. It is very expensive to have a swimming pool, sauna, and health club inside the Hotel. Therefore, to offset this cost, the offer memberships like a gym. What is wonderful, you get to use the most expensive part of a hotel very cheaply. For them to supply these features is almost advertising cost, only about 1 in 50 residents use. But to be a 5 Star Hotel, you need a big bundle of benefits to offer, or no clients. Locals do not live in 5 star hotels, they do not care.
I did this in Chiang Mai, Thailand also. I lived in a great hotel next to a big hotel, hte room was perfect, and better than the big hotel for 10 USD. The big hotel was noisy around the pool, and I did not like the noise. So I paid one dollar per visit, and not the 25 they wanted. I netted out 11 USD and the ones living in the bigger hotel had to deal with the noise.
Utilitarian use of living is what I do, I do not need or want social status. What a 5 star hotel sells is social status, or the idea of avoiding all hassles. If on Vacation you should get 5 Star Hotels to relax, or as a Business person.
But, if your goal is to meet the people of the country, be a volunteer, missionary or even a UN worker, you need to go to the basic rooms, where real people live.
In Lome, Togo, many people join the Ibis Pool, I have went over to visit many volunteers living in 5 star hotels.
But, you can buy the option, and not pay big money
Gadget from has written 1,018 comments
FrugalTravelsNepal - It is nice to know a truly good seasoned traveler is making comments. Nepal has problems with electricity, so many headaches. Many Hotel in India and Nepal will deliver a bucket of hot water to you. I used one cup heater there, hung it on the side of the bucket with a clothespin so it did not immerse.
When there is no water, I normally use rubbing alcohol to clean my pits. The solar showers in Nepal are a joke, just an excuse to not give you hot water.
Have fun, I love Nepal.