How to De-stress during Business Travel

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is inevitable these days, as companies hire fewer people and give them bigger territories to manage. Bigger territories translate into stress that accompanies your travel like its own baggage; if left unattended, it can lead to some serious health issues. Just because you have to be on the road doesn’t mean it has to be stressful. Here are some effective ways to de-stress on the road.

1. Your itinerary. Make it a point never to fly into a city the same day you have a meeting or are scheduled to speak at a conference. Too many things can go wrong, and when (not if) they do, you’re setting yourself up for increased anxiety and distraction. Going in the night before allows you to start the day refreshed, prepared, and organized. Feel free to fly home the same day the meeting ends, but don’t schedule your travel so tightly that you’re frazzled by the time you meet your client.

Your business travel doesn't have to be stressful. Silhouette of a man walking through an airport.2. Create a strategy for the airport. Scout out an off-site parking facility that takes reservations and provides efficient shuttle service to and from the terminal. Doing so will save you time and energy traversing the parking lots looking for a spot. Next, as if we haven’t said this enough, get TSA PreCheck. Again, time saved is mental energy gained.

3. Look for all the ways you can streamline your experience. Mark Weinstein, senior vice president and global head of customer engagement, loyalty, and partnerships at Hilton, said in an Entrepreneurship.com article, “[I choose] brands whose apps let me choose my own seat on the plane, hotel room, or type of car . . . so I join all the airport trusted traveler programs, and, whenever possible, choose a hotel that allows me to check in on my phone and use it as a room key.”

4. Set a travel budget for each trip, as well as the year. We all know that money changes everything, and aligning your expenses with your budget will help you focus on what you’re there to achieve, not on what’s flying out of your wallet. Create a plan and stick to it, and you can nip that potential worry in the bud by utilizing online price comparison sites to find affordable lodging, car rental, and dining.

5. Finally, schedule personal time during your trip. Setting boundaries — no meetings after dinner or no early-morning meetings or no email checking after a certain time of the evening — will help you feel in control of the process and afford you much-needed time to decompress, debrief, and detach. All those things are good for your health, both mental and physical.

As you travel keep this in mind: Tomorrow is another day, and each day has enough trouble of its own. Give yourself the gift of time — it’ll improve your travel, your meetings, your physical and mental health, and allow you to return home de-stressed and possibly even refreshed.

How do you de-stress during you business travel? Spring for a massage, or relax at a coffee shop after the day ends? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: RobertBMueller (Pixabay, Creative Commons 2.0)

Which is Better for Air Travel, Aisle or Window? Your Choice Says a Lot About You

October 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The debate has raged since the dawn of air travel: Which is better, the window seat or the aisle seat?

A few years ago, Expedia polled their readers to find the majority preference. The results may surprise you.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they prefer the window seat, while only 45 percent say they always choose the aisle seat. Almost no one wanted the middle seat. (No great surprise there.)

According to University of Washington psychology professor Jonathan Bricker, these choices say things about each traveler. Those who choose the aisle value their freedom, he said. They can get up and go to the bathroom without asking anyone. They’re also all business. This means they’re probably going to be up working or reading a book. They also tend to be claustrophobic. Proponents of this seat choice also cite access to overhead bins, the ability to get up and walk around on long-haul flights, increased legroom, and priority exiting when deplaning.

The seat you choose for your air travel says a lot about you. This is a picture of an empty SuperJet plane with blue seats and blue carpets.Those who cast their vote for the window seat value privacy, Bricker adds, and are nesters, making their own cozy space in the corner. They’re also dreamers, so chances are they’re staring out the window until they fall asleep on their pillow against the wall. These fliers also claim there’s is the superior choice because they control the window shade, are rarely asked to switch seats so family members can sit together, and aren’t inconvenienced by fellow passengers because their seat location isn’t on the way to the bathroom.

Regardless of your own preference, you can be fully informed about the options for your seat preference by using seatguru.com. Before making a reservation, choose an airline and destination, and all the flights for that day will be specified by type of aircraft. Selecting the “View Map” button allows you to see detailed seat configurations for the flight you’re considering, which will help you select just the seat for you. (Or you can just risk it and buy your ticket on your favorite airline, and then choose your seat.)

The one thing the aisle and window seat travelers agree on? Both hate the middle seat. If you’re that person who actually prefers it, Bricker says you’re most likely a “chatty Kathy,” an extrovert who likes to talk, talk, talk. Either way, you’re welcome to it.

What’s your favorite seat? Would you pay extra to know you could sit there? Or do you just buy your ticket and hope for the best? Share some stories with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: SuperJet International (Wikimedia Commons)

The Benefits of Bleisure Travel for Business Travelers

October 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

That proverb has a lesser-known second phrase which dates back to 1825: “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”

With so many people spending significant amounts of time away from home on business, family relationships can suffer. What if there was a way to bring the family along on a trip, build in some leisure time, and come back from the trip not only accomplishing your purpose but getting away as well? You can do that, and it’s called bleisure travel, a portmanteau of business + leisure. And it’s a great way to make business travel a little more enjoyable for you and your family.

Here are several ways to plan bleisure travel.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it's especially fun if you're near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it’s especially fun if you’re near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

If you’re going to a popular tourist area, say Orlando, for business, the company is paying for your airfare and your hotel. Why not take your family with you? If you do that, you’re already down there, and that’s one less airline ticket you’ll buy personally. Plus, the room is already paid for, regardless of who’s in it. (If the hotel charges more for more guests, you can personally pay the difference.)

If you don’t think you’ll be able to divide your attention between work and the family, arrange for them to arrive at the end of your scheduled business and extend your stay at the hotel over the weekend or the entire week. We’re not suggesting you bill the company for those extra days, but that’s one less logistic you have to think of when planning your time away with your family.

Those who are entrepreneurs or self-employed could write off part of the expenses related to the business travel even if the family is in tow. For example, if you are representing your company at a trade show, the miles you drive to that event and the lodging costs for the days that coincide with your work can both be expensed to your business, even while your family is off doing their own thing. While you may not be able to do everything the family does due to your obligations, you can capitalize on the fact that you can meet up with them at the end of the day to share meals and have some special experiences.

Another type of bleisure travel is the “busman’s holiday.” The Oxford Dictionary defines that as “a period of holiday or leisure time spent doing something similar to one’s normal occupation.” A professional writer who attends a writer’s conference, a contractor who takes a week off work to participate in a Habitat for Humanity building project, and a travel agent who goes on a cruise so they can share their firsthand knowledge of the experience with their clients are all choosing a busman’s holiday.

Have you ever taken a bleisure travel trip? Where did you go? What did you do for the vacation portion? Share some stories with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

 

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Used with permission)

Don’t Believe These Business Travel Room Service Myths

September 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Unless you’re a seasoned traveler, you may think twice when the urge for a late-night snack or breakfast in bed strikes while you’re overnighting at a hotel. We’re here to debunk a few myths about this perk.

Room service prices are identical to the price of the same entree in the hotel’s restaurant. I’m not sure if anyone who has really ordered from a room service menu would believe this, but it’s true. The big difference in prices are those service charges. Essentially, that means you’re paying for personal delivery. According to Paris-based food critic Alexander Lobrano, service charges and other fine print fees are “ways of making you pay for the pleasure of private dining, something that most hotels have pretty much fallen out of love with because it’s logistically complicated.”

Hotel room service can be convenient on business travel trips.Room service is just as fresh as the food in the hotel restaurant because it’s made-to-order. Yes and no. Lobrano said in a January 2017 USA Today article, “most room service items are at least partially pre-prepared, since the room service kitchen or area of a larger kitchen dedicated to room service needs to work ahead . . . And if you really want to see what’s pre-prepared . . . study the night owl room service menu, since those items are designed so that anyone can prepare the dishes easily.” Although the food may be made-to-order, the transportation time to your room will inevitably affect the temperature, and instead of being served courses, your entire meal comes at once.

Tipping is necessary when ordering room service. Feel free to call down to the front desk to inquire about which, if any, of the additional fees actually ends up in the pocket of the staff member delivering it to your door. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, scrutinize the bill when it arrives. Usually there are two charges — a room service fee and a built-in gratuity — and a blank line for you to add a tip. You’re not required to tip, but if you choose to, find the line that states what the price of the meal is, and tip on that amount, not the delivered amount.

Outside food delivery is discouraged so that guests are forced to order room service. A smaller hotel may not have a restaurant, so ordering food delivered by a local restaurant may be your only option. If you stay at a larger hotel with its own restaurant and still want to order from a chain establishment, Lobrano suggests this tactic: “I find the best way to sway an undecided front desk [wary of the security concern of having outside delivery personnel roaming the halls of their hotel] is to say I’ll eat my ordered-in meal in the bar with a glass of their wine—no one’s ever refused this request.” Of course you can always meet the delivery person in the lobby. That’s normal in most big cities.

In the end, if you’re looking for a convenient meal that you can eat in the privacy of your own room, room service is the way to go. Just keep in mind that you’re paying for that convenience and solitude, so you might be better off just trying the hotel restaurant or a nearby restaurant if you need to watch your budget.

Do you partake of the room service or do you eat outside the hotel on your business travels? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Unnamed (Pxhere, Creative Commons, Public Domain)

Five Ways to Pare Down Your Briefcase

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Some business travelers might as well call themselves pack mules with the amount of weight they lug through airports in their briefcases. I’ve seen people carry briefcases that weigh as much as their carry-ons. The bags are filled with binders, folders, and loose papers. It’s enough to make an organizational expert run screaming from the room.

The problem is that a cluttered workplace clutters your mind. Not only is it hard to find anything, but it creates a sense of stress as well as its own inefficiencies.

But with some simple planning and strategizing, your briefcase doesn’t have to create additional strain on your body. We’ve come up with five ways business travelers can streamline the contents of their briefcase for travel. You may end up with so little in it, you might be able to leave it at home!

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger. Ideal for business travelers

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger

1. Unload everything from your briefcase and eliminate all non-essential clutter. Extra cables, extra equipment (could get by with a tablet instead of a laptop), and extra paper. How many pens and pencils do you need? If you have more than two, that’s too many. Put your loose cables into a small bag or cord organizer. Rather than treating your briefcase as a repository of “just in case” materials, try to plan ahead better so you’re not carrying a lot of extra stuff.

2. Get Evernote. This isn’t a sponsored post — the app simply is the best way to clip and save online content for reading later. You can also upload reports to it, save articles from the web to read on the plane, scan receipts and documents, and even scan business cards and save them to your phone’s contact list. While Evernote is primarily a cloud-based app, you can save certain notes and notebooks directly to your device. This way, even if you don’t have wifi access, you still have access to your most important documents.

3. Keep all your documents in the cloud. Price lists, special reports, contracts, and so on. I’ve known business travelers who would print several copies of each of these, and jam them in their briefcase in case they ever needed them. Instead, if someone wants a price list or report, open it up on your laptop or phone to show it, and then email it to them. Finally, use apps like DocuSign for people to sign contracts and agreements electronically, which lets you save and share the copies online.

4. Prioritize your work and delay your printing.
If you must carry paperwork, prioritize what you have to do over what you might do. The best-laid plans are usually just that, so be realistic about what you will accomplish. (Now, if you packed all your work onto Evernote and/or a cloud-storage service, you can load as much as you want.) Can you put off printing and carrying certain documents? If you’re going to give handouts during a presentation, can you have them printed once you arrive, rather than hauling them with you?

5. Is there an app for that?
Why pack a handheld calculator when you can use the one that came with your phone’s operating system? Why carry a book when you could read it on an e-reader? (For that matter, why carry a Kindle when your tablet has the Kindle reader?) Don’t bother printing out directions; use a travel app that offers offline mapping.

The biggest problem a lot of business travelers have is they can hoard documents like they’re doomsday preppers. But in this day and age of cloud-based storage and broadband wifi, you’re only a Starbucks or cell phone away from your important information. There’s no need to pack everything you might need “just in case.” Shed those unwanted paperwork pounds and see how much easier your next business travel trip is.

Business travelers, how do you travel light? What do you do to keep your briefcase or backpack pared down to just the essentials? Share your ideas in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Churning Credit Cards for Points and Miles Can Hurt You

September 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

You get the credit card offers in the mail all the time. “Earn 100,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.” Sounds easy enough. If you worked at it, you could spend three grand and then take a couple flights for vacation.

But if you’ve ever been tempted to sign up with the intention of spending the minimum, getting your miles, and then cancelling the card, you might want to reconsider. More and more airlines and credit card companies are cracking down on consumers who attempt to work the system, cancel the cards, and sign up again 18 to 24 months later.

The practice is called churning, and it can actually work against you.

Last year, USA Today travel columnist George Hobica warned of the dangers of churning credit cards as a way to game the airline’s system.

A messy stack of credit cards - Churning credit cards can damage your creditFor one thing, your credit score will take a hit. It may not seem like a big deal, but be aware that repeatedly applying for credit cards makes you appear to be a higher risk than those who apply less often. And if your score takes a hit of a few points and you own a home, your mortgage lender or credit card lender might increase your rate. Then those “free” flights aren’t so “free.”

And let’s be frank: do you really spend $3,000 in necessary purchases in a three month period? While credit card companies dangle the carrot of frequent flyer miles, they’re hoping you’ll be unable to pay off the balance and be hit with their exorbitant interest rates. They’re also hoping you don’t read the fine print to realize that there’s a relatively steep annual fee you’ll be paying, should you decide to keep this card in your portfolio of plastic.

Some of these dual credit card issuers are also putting a limit on the offer, like one time per customer. The American Express Delta Skymiles Card awards bonus miles once and once only. The Capital One Venture Card allows you to use the miles you earn on any airline, but you can only open an account and get 40,000 miles once.

If you still want to play the game, here’s one last warning: if you open too many credit cards, the next time you really find one you think has a great deal, you might end up being rejected. George Hobica said that, despite an excellent FICO score, he was turned down for a particularly great deal because he had opened too many credit cards in the last two years.

Do you take advantage of the credit card offers? Have you tried churning credit cards to boost your mileage or points? Do you have any suggestions for your fellow travelers on best practices? Share your ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (BlueDiamondGallery.com, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Busting Five Budget Business Travel Myths

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Everyone works hard for their money, and nobody likes the idea of parting with any more of it than necessary. In fact, everybody likes a deal. But when it comes to budget business travel, some of the advice you may have received is nothing more than myth and urban legend. Here are several:

Myth: Unlock your phone for international travel. This is completely unnecessary, unless you are going to be in an area of the world where you will need to be able to make calls whenever you want and you know you won’t have access to any reliable wifi. If you know you’ll have access to wifi, checking in is simply a matter of scheduling a time and finding free or paid wifi. There are other ways to communicate than just voice-to-voice. Apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype make it easy to communicate offline via text or even make Internet-phone calls while abroad.

A rented Nissan Micra in Donegal, Ireland. Beware the business travel myths about rental cars!

A rented Nissan Micra in Donegal, Ireland

Myth: Rental cars are inexpensive overseas. While this may be true, what most Americans don’t know is that the price of fuel everywhere but the US is much more expensive. This turns something that appears reasonable into something that is costly. Public transit is much more developed in foreign countries, so utilize the local buses and trams, and use rail passes for the majority of your around town travel. Ride sharing also exists in foreign cities, so familiarize yourself with those apps before you leave. If it’s necessary to rent a car, consider Transfercar, which connects travelers with cars that need to be relocated, or BlaBlaCar, which allows drivers with available passenger seats the opportunity to sell them to travelers needing a ride.

Myth: Exchange money before you leave the US. With the right credit card in your wallet, this is completely unnecessary. Many credit card companies offer cards with no transaction fees for foreign withdrawals. You will pay a small fee if you use an ATM, but it’s minimal compared to the service fee charged by a bank. One caveat: notify your bank or credit card company of your plans to travel outside the US so your funds won’t be frozen for suspected fraud.

Myth: Book your flights and hotels very early. While there is some truth to securing your accommodations well before your departure, the same rule of thumb does not apply for booking airfare. You only need to plan six to seven weeks in advance in order to get the best price. Watching fares for a few weeks before then will give you the best intel about the fare drop. In fact, travel experts advise it is unwise to book your flight more than two months out.

Myth: Grocery shop instead of eating out. This advice has been proliferated by people who haven’t lived in a big city. (Okay, it was us! We recommended it! But we stand by this advice in most cases). Groceries in major metropolitan areas — New York, London, Toronto, Paris — are known for having higher prices, and the stores are not always easy to get to, especially if you don’t know where to look. You have to take a taxi to get there, traffic is terrible, and if you drive your own car, parking can be an issue. If you’re in a smaller city, then you won’t have as much of a problem.

However, if you’ve done your homework and saved on the other parts of your trip, why would you miss out on experiencing local fare just to save a few bucks? How often do you get to this part of the world, or get this chance to experience this local culture? Be sure to visit some of the best restaurants in the area and try to experience what that city has to offer.

Don’t be deceived; international travel doesn’t have to break the bank. But don’t just take our word for it; investigate your options and make wise decisions, and you’ll find affordable, memorable travel is possible.

What are some budget business travel “myths” have you found and debunked yourself? Do you know any conventional business travel wisdom that we’ve all shared but it turned out to be untrue? Share your ideas in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Joseph Mischyshyn (Geograph.ie, Creative Commons 2.0)

Travel Hacks and Myths That Don’t Actually Work

September 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The number of travel hacks that have been touted across the Internet as “the way” to get the “best” deal have many chasing the potential for something that isn’t out there.

For example, none of these well-publicized travel hacks for getting a cheaper flight — clear your cache to avoid high airfares, don’t use a Mac, buy 42 days in advance, book after midnight on a Tuesday — actually work.

If you want to get a deal on an airfare, don’t book too early or too late. Booking one to four months out should result in a decent price. And the differences in between prices are not so vast anymore either. You might save $40 or $50 on a discount site, but you may be penalized by not being allowed to select your seats or being more likely to get bumped if a flight is overbooked.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel - Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don't always work. And may be impolite in some cultures.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel – Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don’t always work, and may be impolite in some cultures.

As for booking the best hotel rate, don’t believe the hack about calling the property directly unless you’re negotiating a group rate for a special event. That’s another situation entirely. If you’re thinking that you’ll be able to use your amazing negotiating skills if you can just speak with a human being, think again. Calling a property directly will most likely end up in a reroute to a reservation center. Just go to their website and make sure to enter your loyalty number. If you don’t have one, join their loyalty club and then stick with them for future travel. That will always get the best rates.

Finally, if you don’t join a loyalty club and every dollar counts, check a meta-search website instead, such as Google or Kayak.com, Booking.com, or Expedia. Cross-check your findings with those of the hotel’s website, though, so that you don’t miss a deal there.

“Tipping” the front desk personnel when checking is another travel hack that usually doesn’t work. Most often, the employee keeps the money, not understanding that you were attempting to hack the system and get an upgrade. This does have a better chance of working at fancy hotels in big cities, but even then, it doesn’t always help.

Rental cars used to be able to be procured for deeply discounted rates by making a reservation via travel sites like Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, or Priceline. Not so anymore. The best deals today are through Costco, AAA, or the rental companies themselves, such as Hertz, Enterprise, National, Avis, and Budget.

If you need an inexpensive rental car, start with the rental companies’ websites, but check the other sites as well. The rental car companies truly have figured out that it’s better to offer great deals directly to their customers than to make them hunt them down on competitor’s sites.

Everyone wants to figure out a way to hack the system and travel cheaper or faster. While it may seem innocuous at the time, many potential hacks may involve lying, bribing, or cheating, and those behaviors only end up creating consequences for the traveling public—often resulting in higher fares and tighter restrictions. So be careful in the hacks that you use.

Your best bet is to join loyalty clubs at your favorite hotel, airline, and car rental agency and stick with them as much as possible. Also, get a credit card that rewards you loyalty points. Your membership in those clubs can get you some extra perks.

What are some travel hacks have you found that don’t actually work? Any painful lessons you learned in your business travel? Share your experiences with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Packing Food for Air Travel

August 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you trying to stay on track with that new diet you’re on, but you have a business trip, and the thought of running the food court gauntlet without getting tripped up by some tempting food has you considering quitting? Do you have a dietary restriction that makes finding allergen-free food in the airport next to impossible?

Have you considered packing some snacks or meals to eat while you fly? You can take food through the TSA security checkpoints, you just have to know what food falls under its liquid restrictions — the 3-1-1 rule —and pack accordingly.

Although water bottles or other beverages must not exceed 3.4 ounces, don’t automatically assume you can’t bring items such as packets of nut butters or salad dressing. Just be sure the amount you’re bringing through security is less than 3.4 ounces/100ml. The liquid restrictions also apply to ice and gel packs as well, so be sure to time your arrival at the airport so those frozen food products are still frozen solid.

Peanut butter is not a good food to take during air travel, unless you pre-make your sandwichesItems listed by TSA as liquids include:

  • Nut butter (squeeze packs included)
  • Jam/jelly
  • Yogurt
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Creamy cheese
  • Salsa
  • Soups

That means you can’t bring more than 3.4 ounces of these items through security. You can see the complete list here.

The following foods are not listed in TSA’s guidelines for food, but should be taken only if you don’t mind risking their loss because a screener uses his or her discretion:

  • Pudding/Jell-O
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit cups with syrup

Other foods you prepare at home, such as sandwiches, salads, and snacks, do not have to adhere to the same restrictions as liquids, as long as there’s nothing too liquid or gel-like in them. For those who are serious about meal prep and frequent travelers, there are some totes designed to keep food cold during travel.

You don’t have to lose the battle of the bulge or resign yourself to getting sick from accidental allergen exposure because you’re flying. With a little knowledge and some planning, you can stay healthy while work takes you to the skies.

Do you travel with your own food? How do you make sure you’re staying healthy or avoiding problems on the road? Share your ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Piccolo Namek (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

How Much Should You Tip at Hotels?

August 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In this country, tipping is a combination of good manners and best practices. Whether you agree with it or not almost doesn’t matter, because this is how the travel and service industries operate. You tip at restaurants, you tip your cab driver, you tip at hotels — it’s a part of travel etiquette.

But there are a lot of questions about who you should actually tip at hotels, so we’ve found some different resources on the subject and here’s what you should do if you want to become a champion of etiquette. Here’s just a short list of the most visible staff you need to consider tipping:

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. Staying at a place like expects that you tip at hotels.

The Bellagio Hotel – Definitely a tipping environment.

  • Shuttle driver: Typically receives $1–$2 per person or $4–$5 per party. Consider if they help with your bags or provide helpful information specific to your location.
  • Valet/parking attendant: Receives $2–$5 for delivering your vehicle. Tipping the parking attendant is optional.
  • Door Staff: The rule of thumb should be, the worse the weather, the higher the tip. Because they usually hail cabs and help with luggage or shopping bags, this rate fluctuates between $2–$5.
  • Bellman: If you have a particularly heavy bag or large quantity of them, consider tipping the bellman $2–$5 per piece of luggage.
  • Front desk attendant: If you’d like to ingratiate yourself to someone who could upgrade you to a better room, tip $5–$10 to the front desk attendant. But don’t assume that just because you do, they will. That’s a bribe.
  • Concierge: It’s not recommended, but is always appreciated. If you have a difficult request, it’s nice to tip at least $5. If it’s a more difficult request, tip a little higher.
  • Housekeeper: The one person who should always receive a tip. The most invisible of all a hotel’s staff, this army keeps your room tidy and your towels folded. Leaving a tip for them on the desk or nightstand is risky, though. Ask the hotel if it provides envelopes or place it under the pillow to ensure they receive your expression of gratitude.
  • Room service: If a tip might already be applied to the cost of the meal, a tip of a few dollars is all that’s expected. If not already accounted for, 20 percent of the bill is standard for room service delivery, especially if it’s late at night.
  • Waitstaff: Waitstaff at the hotel’s restaurant should receive a minimum of 15–20 percent of the bill, but be advised that this usually applies only in the US. Check with the front desk or concierge when traveling abroad to determine local standards.
  • Bartender: They receive similar gratuities of 15–20 percent of the tab. If you’re of the mind to tip per drink, $1–$2 is sufficient.
  • Restaurant bussing & Buffet attendants: Another group that is often unnoticed in a hotel dining room or restaurant is the waitstaff that bus the buffet. If they are refreshing your drinks, clearing plates, or procuring extra helpings, they should be compensated accordingly, and the average is usually $5. Don’t expect your primary waitstaff to split the tip with them.
  • Pool or beach attendant: The norm here varies according to the service being performed on your behalf. For towel or drink service, $1 per item is fine, but if they are moving chairs or setting up umbrellas, $5 goes a long way toward securing prime poolside real estate.

Before you succumb to the feeling that giving a tip at hotels is akin to being a human ATM, remember that those serving you are working hard, possibly harder than you, to make a living. They’re providing you a service, and it’s good etiquette to show your gratitude.

What do you usually tip your service providers? How do you handle the question? Let us hear from you in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

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