Road Rules - Rule 16

Don't Check Out a Hotel

Who: Heath Row (hrow@fastcompany.com), associate editor, Fast Company

Home Base: Somerville, Massachusetts

Mileage: 5,000 miles a month

Favorite Destination: Austin, Texas

Don't Leave Home without It: Mead Corp.'s Fat Little Wireless Neatbook notebook

"Last fall, for the Company of Friends Road Show (www.fastcompany.com/roadshow), I drove more than 5,300 miles over the course of seven weeks. I visited 15 cities in 7 southern states. I participated in workshops, panel discussions, and various other events. I visited fast companies and thought leaders. And I stayed with Fast Company readers and with members of the readers' network — the Company of Friends."

"I did not stay in hotel rooms — by design. Money wasn't an issue. Staying at a hotel isolates you from the place you're visiting and from the people you'll be working with. By staying with the magazine's readers — sometimes with their friends or family members — I experienced parts of my host communities that I would have missed otherwise. And by staying in CoF members' homes, I learned far more about those people than I would have if I had stayed in a hotel: who they are, what's important to them."

"I also enjoyed a level of service that hotels just can't offer. In North Carolina, I did my laundry and hung it outside on a clothesline to dry, while a farmer baled hay in a field next door. In South Carolina, my host treated me to homemade kasha for breakfast. In Florida, I went on an early morning walk along the ocean with my host. I've yet to meet a hotel concierge who would do that."

"Of course, it isn't always possible for road warriors to have this kind of experience. But every so often, when the situation allows, try to stay with real people rather than in a hotel. I think you'll like the view."

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