Stay Away Accommodation
This article was written by Nicholas Colwyn Parry, a locum pharmacist working across the UK, and a subscriber to the My Locum Choice Software.
Okay, in my previous blog I stated there would be an entire blog dedicatedly finding the right place to stay so here it is! Staying away from home can really leave you disoriented, restless and tired if done incorrectly. I have likened staying away to a holiday, but it can be very far from it and almost resemble prison if done wrong. Hopefully after reading this you will have a feel of what to look for and what to avoid.
Some companies give you a set fee for an accommodation expense, some include it in the hourly rate, and some put you up in accommodation. I would have to say choosing my own accommodation is definitely a preference, but if you are put up somewhere usually there is a meal included (breakfast, lunch, dinner or all 3 if you’re lucky). It is to be noted that all of this can be negotiated, an extra £5 an hour goes a long way with accommodation. It’s also good to note if you’re paying for the accommodation you can claim these as expenses, so go spend that extra £5 a night for an entire house for yourself and treat yourself.
Looking for accommodation can be quite exciting…
I find looking for accommodation can be quite exciting, and it’s best looked for before you get a shift, so you’re not left panicking finding somewhere to stay or having to pay an extortionate fee for a week of accommodation. For that reason, it’s best booked as soon as you’ve confirmed the shifts. I use Airbnb mainly, but I’ve also booked on booking.com (finding the locations details then going direct usually gets you in cheaper or with a better deal) and Kayak.
I have stayed in beach houses, flats, hotels, spare rooms and even a traveller’s caravan site, you name it I’ve stayed in it. All have their positives, all have their negatives, sometimes it’s luck of the draw and you can find a box room with the worlds comfiest bed, and sometimes 4* hotels can offer appalling service.
You will get a completely different experience of an area if you share with someone compared to if you choose an entire place to yourself. Local recommendations are far better than your average trip advisor review! They support the local economy, you always get better service, and you network a lot better by shopping/eating local! I have mentioned staying away alone can be lonely if you’re on your own for long periods of time, so it’s nice to find somewhere homely! If I’m totally honest, I try and find somewhere with a pet just because I miss Mojo (my cat) more than I thought I would! Network and make friends with the host whilst you’re away, people pay a premium to advertise on the aforementioned sites so if you return and go direct you can usually get more for your money!
I tend to stick to companies that allow me to book my own accommodation …
This may differ for yourself, but most definitely my number 1 when booking accommodation is the amenities at the place! I want to know that I can feel at home, park safely, be able to do my washing, eat and relax. It’s no secret I love eating out, but sometimes I really want to go home and cook to escape the day! That being said, you can’t always have a say in these things, especially if someone has booked your accommodation and you’re in a hotel. I tend to stick to companies that allow me to book my own accommodation as you know what you’re getting yourself into! I’ve had a couple of pretty bad experiences where a company has put me in something that resembles a shabby hostel riddled with mould. As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, I like consistency so to help establish that when I’m on the move so often I carry with me my own plates, cutlery, knives, chopping board and spice rack.
You would be surprised how many ways that landlords false advertise too! It may say free parking and Wi-Fi etc, but the free parking may only be one space on Sunday and the Wi-Fi might be the pub next door! So, make sure you read reviews.
Always read the reviews…
This brings me nicely onto my next point when booking accommodation which is to read the reviews! When I say this, I don’t just mean seeing what is negative and positive about a place, but what is specific to you! Will you be affected by the lack of Wi-Fi if you have unlimited data? Is it an issue if there’s no parking onsite and you don’t mind parking on the
road? Does it bother you that there isn’t enough room for activities? If the review doesn’t apply to you, don’t take note of it!
Price can be a funny one, I’ve had entire farmhouses for £50 a night, and I’ve had single rooms with a shower in and no other facilities available on the property for £60 a night. The earlier in advance you book, the more availability and choice you’ll have! Prices are naturally higher in summer when children are not in school and everyone wants to come down to
Devon, therefore availability is scarcer which is why it’s good to use multiple methods of booking accommodation. I will say though paying an extra £10 a night for an entire space with off-road private parking sometimes is a little bit better than a box room on a dilapidated estate. On that note, some of the pharmacies you will work in will be run down
areas, you may have a bit of conflict with patients, and you don’t want them to know where you’re staying! Therefore, a little commute is sometimes necessary, and also wise. If you’re unsure about an area, speak to your agency, or the co-ordinator and see where most Locums stay, or even contact the pharmacy!!
Location, location, location…
I touched on it in the last paragraph, and “location location location” is the saying when buying a house, it’s also true when it comes to somewhere to stay for work! You don’t want to put yourself on a road where all of your more untoward patients live like I’ve done in the past. I’ve had people try and follow me home so I’ve had to drive different routes, patients have found me on social media and tried to send messages, and I’ve had methadone patients threaten they know where I’m staying when I refused them methadone as they were heavily intoxicated. Security and safety at your accommodation is paramount, remember you are more than likely on your own and far from home. You want to know that when you go to sleep you won’t be woken up by someone breaking in, someone you don’t know knocking on your door, or anything happening to your car.
The reason I write these blogs is to be completely transparent about my entire journey. I would love to say this journey is just me surfing and fishing with a bit of work in between, however it is mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. There really are incredibly good, woefully bad, and extremely ugly times. What I love most of all about this is I can see my personal development as consequence of rising and conquering all these challenges. I thought I was clued up with every piece of knowledge I could ever need to make this an easy success, but it has been by far my biggest challenge. If you have read these from the start and have learned just one thing that will help you then I have achieved my goal, if not, go back to blog 1…NOW!
Thank you once again for reading this!
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