Friday, January 29, 2010

Traveling? Don't Forget to Pack Singles

No, not your single friends...your single dollar bills!!!

I'm currently on the road and have been traveling for the past two weeks. With all the recent traveling it was clear what my next blog post would be...tipping the hard-working, under-paid folks who help make my traveling experience a more enjoyable one. I am referring to maids at the hotels I’ve stayed in, the cab drivers who shuffle me to the airports and hotels, Skycaps at the airport who help me avoid the scary and long lines inside the terminal, bell hops at the hotels, the concierge who receives my packages…and the list goes on and on.

When you travel for anything - business or pleasure - it is so important to tip your "servers." [I'm going to use servers as a general label for all the aforementioned list of people.]

Let’s break it down…

Now, I usually just leave $2.00 per day in my hotel room, but that is mostly because I'm a clean, organized person traveling alone. If you have four or more people staying in a room, the room is large, your using a kitchen etc. you should increase the tip accordingly. It is important to leave a tip each day because you do not know if you have the same maid/server day-to-day. When my husband, Matt, and I went on our honeymoon we were fortunate enough to stay in a suite so we left $3-4 dollars each day. Another example is we had to live in a hotel for 10+ days when our condo was under construction – since we had more than the usual amount of things in the room we left $3-4 again.

There are exceptions of course; on a cruise ship you leave a lump sum at the end of the trip because you do in fact have the same person serving you day-to-day. I’ve heard couples tell me they’ve traveled on cruises where they notice no tip being left by their tablemates on the final night (gasp!). I’m just going to say this…when you’re planning a vacation be sure you can not only afford the trip but afford to tip the servers, it is a crucial line item in every traveling budget! Servers make less hourly wages because it is assumed they make most of their income from TIPPING!

While I was checking out of my hotel today I didn't have any more single bills to leave in my room (I always write a note to leave next to the money so the maid knows it is for her, so this time I told her I would leave it at the front desk.). I asked the front desk clerk to break a twenty for me and see that the maid gets it. The front desk clerk thanked me for doing that and went on to tell me that people always forget (or consciously don’t) tip their maid. She then went on to tell me a story about a large group of people (probably a wedding) came and took up 70 rooms - not one person left a tip. What a shame. Would you want to clean hotel rooms as a job? I don't think next time you travel please consider your maid!

Side note: I knew I was going to write this blog so I wanted to do a little experiment. The first night I was checked in I didn't leave a tip the next morning (GASP!) because I wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference in quality of cleanup. The room looked fine when I returned the next day. Day two rolled around and I left a tip ($2.00, my standard) and much to my surprise the maid had definitely done much more! She organized my bottles on my sink and placed them on a towel, whipped the counter clean, folded my pajamas and lined up my shoes. None of this had been done the previous day. Now of course this could mean I had someone different, but I'd like to think it was because of the tip.

As I was returning home today from Sacramento I got in line to check my suitcase with the Skycap (thank god for Skycaps – especially for impatient travelers such as myself). As I waited I checked to make sure I had a few singles for a tip. Emily Post says you only need to tip a dollar per bag, but I always feel really cheap to just give one dollar…especially in this day of age. I got to the counter, checked my bag and thanked the Skycap while handing him the tip. Boy did he look appreciative! I thought to myself, do all people not give him tips? The neeerve! My father-in-law and I had a long conversation a week earlier about tipping Skycaps and he has an interesting theory…he takes really good care of them tip wise because you never know where your bag could end up if they don’t like YOU! Also, I’ve found that the weighing of the bags can be a crucial component of your tip. We had a bag that was clearly more than 50lbs, the weight limit for bags on most airlines these days and there were no questions asked with a tip – but the gal next to us had a bag that weighed 51lbs, no tip – she was charged the hefty baggage fee. Live and learn…live and learn!

Bottom line – don’t be a cheap skate because it may come back and bite ya in the toosh. Treat your servers well and you will be treated well…plain and simple.

More to come on tipping!!


  1. I never thought about tipping everyday, before I always left a tip for the maid at the end of my stay. Now I will be sure to leave something each day since the same person might not be servicing the room. Thanks for the tip-tip.