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10 Tips for surviving 14 days in hotel quarantine

July 25th, 2020

Travel Health in the age of COVID

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine is a necessary evil in the fight against this virus but it is hard on the “guests”. Those who read the news and think – oh that looks OK…. two weeks in a luxury hotel…. how bad can that be?  Well, it’s not completely like being in prison but it’s really NOT like being in a luxury hotel for 2 weeks. (I’m writing this on my Day 13)


Here are my tips

  1. Avoid it if you can – it’s no picnic and now you pay $2,800 for the privilege. I was sent to Surfers Paradise. The hotel was designed for guests to come in, throw down the bags, and head to the pool or the pub. It is not designed for 14 days of quarantine.
  2. Try to choose your quarantine partners carefully – they are very small rooms. In most hotels, there are no balconies, and no windows you can open. No, you can’t go outside. You can ask for a “fresh air break” but it is usually not possible.  The only marginally fresher air you get is opening the door for food delivery.
  3. No, you can’t pay for an upgrade (yet.. maybe one day?). You can’t pay for a bigger room, or a better view.  I am told rich celebrities have employed security companies to prove to Qld Health that they are being compliant. Not an option for us mere mortals. You can, however, pay for better food by getting take-away and using Uber and grocery delivery.
  4. Plan on giving up smoking. Qld health has kindly provided free nicotine patches to those in the grip of nicotine addiction but otherwise no special favours. There are no smoking breaks.  Apparently, quite a few guests of the system have given up smoking. It’s all pretty stressful though.
  5. Phones are a lifeline. Don’t leave your charger at home. Check your phone plan – the Wi-Fi speed of my hotel is 1MBS, that of my phone is 36.6 MBS – much more civilised. I found cordless headphones really useful. My phone could remain on the charger and the Bluetooth reached all over the room.  Lots of people ring. The hotel staff, friends and family, Qld Health (to make sure you are not sick); Red Cross (to make sure you are not going insane); the Justice department (to make sure you are not trying to escape…climbing down fire escapes perhaps? And to check that you know you must pay the bill). I also had some calls from children in the building who had clearly just learned how to use the phone – A sweet little grade 3 girl with a passion for pizza and who would update me on how she was getting on. Her brother started to find entertainment in pulling out the phone cord while she was on the phone so WW3 started to break out. Then he discovered he too could make non-sanctioned calls “This is reception calling.. haha yell” I felt sorry for his boredom but admit I dobbed on him to reception and the calls stopped.
  6. Think about how to get exercise – for your mental health if nothing else. Every time I was on the phone I walked up and down my room with 1kg dumbbells. There were 10 steps from one end to other. One day I had lots of phone calls and did 13,000 steps. I had to wear gym shoes as my feet were getting carpet burns. Maybe take a yoga mat. I discovered Yoga with Adriene – apparently she’s now a YouTube COVID-lockdown yoga sensation.  Gentle exercise is best as injuries have occurred from overenthusiastic exercising in hotels. You don’t want to be taken out in full PPE to the nearest hospital.
  7. Take ample supplies of medications and your comfort food. I found chewing gum useful – a low calorie chewing activity. I drank herbal tea as I had the activity of putting on the kettle and making the tea, drinking it slowly etc. If you are a coffee drinker maybe bring a machine? One of the care packages from my family contained a sandwich toaster and bath bombs. Nothing comes out of your room except rubbish and dirty towels, the food is supplied in plastic takeaway containers with plastic cutlery.  If you want to cut fruit, it is hard to cut an apple with a plastic knife.    I really liked having my own teacup and cutlery. Delivery of anything is almost exciting. The staff knock, you call thank you and they run away leaving your little treasure on the doorstep of your room. Sometimes when I opened the door, I could see the persons back disappearing down the corridor. I asked for a bowl and spoon, one duly appeared.  The staff here were so determined to go above and beyond the call of customer service, that about 20 minutes later, I had another knock and magically there was a second bowl and spoon.  About 30 minutes later, a third bowl and spoon appeared on my doorstep. It was like the Easter bunny leaving chocolates. The helpful staff also thought to provide some dishwashing liquid and a sponge.  I have a food allergy – one day I got someone else’s lunch – but you can’t give it back. You can ask for new towels if you need them. Old ones go out in a big black plastic bag.  No-one comes to service the room so sheets don’t get changed. My room had 2 double beds so after a week instead of changing the sheets, I just changed the bed. You have to take a bit of novelty where you can.
  8. Have some written goals – perhaps things you have been meaning to do for ages but never have time for…. reading those books in your pile, tidy computer files, or work on your photos. (Planning these kinds of less-urgent tasks also means that if you don’t do them in quarantine, you know you will never do them so you will be released from the task one way or the other). The biggest goal – which you will achieve just by doing your quarantine – is helping the community avoid this wildfire virus.
  9. I found it really helpful to have a routine: mine was get up, get dressed, start ‘work’ on your goals. (Your work time can be 1 hour or 8 – you get to choose). After ‘work’,  have some recreational – I heard that some hotels give you free Netflix or Stan etc. If you are in the room with others – and this is the most important thing I can tell you in this blog – set a fixed daily private time when you don’t have to talk to each other e.g. from 2-5pm every day – each person does what they want, read, sleep etc – some private quiet space with no talking. My well-being-caller from the red cross told me that many guests commented they found this very helpful to maintain their sanity. Many co-detainees are not used to spending that much time together.
  10. As Jacinda says “Be kind”… to  your roommate, the staff and the security personnel – it’s not easy dealing with us detainees – I’m told some guests are very stressed and not in their most accommodating frame of mind. Support staff are doing their best – if not, of course advise the management of your concerns. As guests, just because we are trapped doesn’t mean we have to accept bullshxx. We need to be effective consumers. Everyone is learning how to fight this virus – Getting the systems right. Its a team effort – give them constructive feedback Everyone is learning to do all the little things that go into fighting this wildfire of a virus.  ( A big shout-out to the staff of the VOCO hotel in Surfers Paradise for their friendliness and outstanding customer service.)

Meal delivery to the hotel room door

And one last thing for everyone – IF you get suspicious respiratory symptoms, have a test

Most common symptoms of COVID:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • tiredness

Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • diarrhoea
  • conjunctivitis
  • headache
  • loss of taste or smell
  • a rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes



If you get symptoms, even minor ones …Get tested.

Don’t delay. 

Yes, it’s annoying ..

Ring your GP and organise a test….and stay home until you get the result.

It would be WAY more annoying to have an outbreak of COVID-19 in your entourage.

Every Aussie has an important part to play in fighting this virus.

Do it for your family, for your friends, for your community, for your country.

We can’t all go to war for our country or work in an ICU to help.

We don’t have to  – but we can help, we have a test when we get symptoms.

The best way to fight this virus is to be tested if you get symptoms.

Encourage your friends to do the same.


WE are the surveillance system.


If you spotted a fire you would call the fire brigade.

If no-one sees a fire it will quickly get out of control. Just like COVID-19

Our communities are currently like “forests full of fuel” to this coronavirus. We need to know about any little “fires” early before they get out of control – like in poor Victoria and NSW. Let’s not go there. Get tested.

C’mon Aussie C’mon!

We’ve got this.



2 Responses to “10 Tips for surviving 14 days in hotel quarantine”

  1. Alison Grace says:

    Thank you so much for your excellent advice
    We are British nationals finally being able to travel from South Africa -(second home) to the UK and having to face hotel quarantine in Birmingham in April.
    Your advice has given me positivity about the whole ‘adventure’

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