Some Tips to Make Tipping a Little Easier

February 20, 2012 | By | Comments (4)

If you’re a frequent business traveler, like a reader named Agowen, you may often experience a sinking feeling when it’s time to tip the bell hop. You reach into your pocket or handbag only to find…the smallest bill you have is a twenty. Now what?

“I travel every week for work and encounter a lot of people that I think I should provide with a cash tip,” Agowen wrote. “But I find it impractical — if not impossible — to keep the necessary cash (in $1 bills, no less!) on me at all times. Any suggestions?”

We’ve all been there, Agowen. First, let’s consider the rather lengthy list of tip-eligible employees who may assist you during the course of a stay. Before you even arrive at the hotel, there’s the shuttle van driver ($2), and the situation only intensifies from there.

At the hotel, a doorman ($1-$2) helps you and your luggage out of the van. Then a bellhop ($1-$2 per bag) takes your suitcases upstairs while you stop at the concierge desk to ask for dinner reservations, a local street map and a suggestion about where to find free wi-fi in the neighborhood tomorrow while you’re killing time between business meetings ($2-$20, depending on how many strings it was necessary to pull to land your dinner reservations).

Upstairs, you order room service ($2, in addition to the gratuity added to the bill) and rely on the housekeeping staff ($2-$5 per night) to restore order every time you leave your room.

This adds up to a lot of $1 bills. Unless you check in to the hotel carrying a briefcase stuffed with stacks of bills wrapped in rubber bands (as if you were the hero of a 1960s bank caper movie), you are going to run out of cash.

The best ways to get more small bills are at the front desk—get into the habit of stopping by, at a slow time, to ask the clerk to break a $20 each day—or from a bartender. Of course, this strategy still requires you to think ahead. If you forget, in a pinch you can ask the hotel employee you are tipping to go to the desk to get change for you. (Of course, this service will require an added gratuity; add $1 to the tip).

What’s your tipping strategy when you travel? How do you avoid running out of $1 bills?

(image via