I feel like we have become professionals at making TLF (Temporary Lodging Facility) home over the past few weeks. For those of you not in the military, or new to the military, TLF is both a blessing and a curse at times. It’s wonderful in the fact that different from a standard hotel you often have the option of multiple bedrooms and a kitchen. However, for those stuck in TLF for long periods of time you know dealing with the dull knives, cheap pans and questionable appliances all while trying to keep your sanity in check in spite of the close quarters you are having to call home…is a little less than ideal shall we say?
Like everything in the military, you have to make of it what you can so I’ve pulled together a few ways to help you survive TLF, and hopefully make it a positive experience. The key here is to do a few small things that will result in a manageable level of convenience and comfort.
- Unpack: It doesn’t matter if you are staying 3 nights or 3 weeks, trying to shuffle through your suitcase every time you need a shirt to wear or a pair of underwear just adds to the hassle of living in a hotel. Unpack your things and put the suitcase away. It will be easier to reorganized when you need to pack up to leave, and in the meantime you will appreciate having easy access to your things.
- Grocery Shop: Some people like staying in a hotel because it gives them a legitimate excuse to eat out and take a break from cooking. However, if you are going to be in TLF for longer than a few days, doing a little grocery shopping and cooking in the room not only helps save money, it also tends to be a little healthier, and makes it feel more like your normal routine and home.
- Buy or bring a nonstick pan and one good knife. It is hit or miss whether the knives available in your room will be only sort of dull, or require actually sawing through a piece of celery. If you plan to cook much at all it is worth it to pick up a cheap chef’s knife at the commissary (they are less than $3). TLF rooms also typically only have inexpensive stainless steel pots and pans. They work fine for the majority of your cooking needs, but when it comes to cooking eggs at breakfast, they are a nightmare. Bring a nonstick pan with with you, check the thrift store, or grab one from the commissary or BX to save you the hassle of trying to remove the inevitable layer of stuck on egg from the pan every.single.morning.
- Buy Coffee: TLF will provide you with coffee packets that will make about 8 cups. While they are sufficient, they really aren’t good coffee. If you aren’t picky stick with the free stuff, but if coffee is important to starting your day off on the right foot, even some cheap Eight O’Clock coffee will provide a major upgrade.
- Buy or bring soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Some people do this automatically, I am not generally one of them. TLF will provide you with soap and at least shampoo (sometimes conditioner and lotion if you are lucky), but per most hotel supplies they aren’t the best quality. If we are going to be in TLF for longer than a week I always stock up on good soap, shampoo and conditioner and my skin and hair greatly thanks me. *Grab a jar of coconut oil while you are at it, it pulls double duty as a great lotion AND cooking oil.
- Get Out Of The Room: This probably goes without saying, but it’s really beneficial to your mental health to vacate the room from time to time. You need the fresh air and the change of scenery more than you know. Visit the BX and commissary, check out the thrift store. Go to the library and find a movie to watch or some books for the kids to read and play with. Explore the local town. Research what is happening in the area such as festival or shows. Connect with other people on Facebook. Most military communities are very welcoming. This is a great time to find a play date for the kids, or a coffee date for mom or dad. Make new friends, and insert yourself, even if it is just for a short time, into the local community.