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Posts Tagged ‘hotels.com’


(Photo by BurningKarma)

 

I recently received an email from a reader about travel tipping etiquette. It’s an interesting topic, and one that I think is a subject of confusion and frustration for many travelers. Her letter reads:

 

Dear Erin,

We just got back from a three day trip to Niagara Falls, after not having been on a vacation for YEARS. I was wondering, when did tipping get so out of control? I could not believe how many different people we were supposed to tip and I never had any idea how much was appropriate.

People we tipped at the hotel included the valet parking attendants (valet parking was required and cost $20 daily, plus tip), the server at the daily breakfast buffet (she brought drinks), the bartender at the daily “manager’s reception” (where we each received a free drink daily), the maid, the bellman , the front desk staff (they actually had fishbowl tip “jars” set out so they could be tipped for checking you in and out) and the staff at the tour desk. We had no idea how much to tip for most of these, so we made wild guesses. Do you have any advice for future trips?

Thanks, Brittney

 

First of all, I would like to note that I do not think a tip jar on the hotel’s front desk is appropriate and any hotel that allows this should be embarrassed. The front desk employees are paid a salary and do not survive on tips, like waiters and valet attendants. This goes for the concierge and tour desk employees, as well. You never need to tip desk attendants. If someone goes above and beyond for you, particularly in the case of a concierge, then a gratuity handed directly to that individual is nice, but not strictly required. The problem with a tip jar is that you never know who is going to get that money and how it will be divided. Skip the jar and hand out tips only to the person assisting you.

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The Travelers: Varsha and her cousin Anjali

The Trip: Four days in Madrid, Spain with a day trip to Toledo. Then, three days in Lisbon, Portugal with a day trip to Sintra.

 

Varsha answered some questions about her travels for What A Trip:

 

WAT: Why did you choose this destination?
V: My cousin came across very cheap tickets to Madrid from the Washington, DC area. Since our husbands didn’t want to go we decided to go ourselves. We got our vacations approved from our bosses and we booked the tickets ($450 per person). I then looked around online and found hotels for under $100 a night in both these cities. Suddenly we had a trip!

 

WAT: How did you book your trip?
V: We booked our airfare directly with US Airways on their website www.usairways.com. We booked our hotels for Madrid on hotels.com and Lisbon was booked via Marriott’s website.

 

WAT: What were your favorite sights during the trip?
V: Madrid was bustling with people who were out till the wee hours of the morning. Toledo was just breathtaking, Lisbon simply gorgeous. The river Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean meeting was an awesome sight and Sintra was very historic and bought back memories of an old world where things were simple and elegant and peaceful.

 

WAT: What were some of the most memorable moments on the trip?
V: Shopping in Madrid, visiting all the various museums and doing the day trips to smaller cities nearby.

 

WAT: Do you have advice for others planning travel to this part of the world?
V: Pack light. Madrid is very easily accessible via metro but the metro stations in many places have a LOT of stairs! Travel light also because there is a lot of shopping and souvenir collecting to do and you’ll have new things to bring home. Lisbon is a very hilly city and you should be prepared to walk uphill a lot. Also, don’t spend a lot on a hotel. We barely spent any time in the hotel rooms. Just make sure the hotels are center city to make the most of what these destinations have to offer. Also, go with a plan. This is the easiest and most efficient way to travel in Europe in general. Plan what you want to see in advance and mostly likely you will get there since you budgeted time for it early on. We carried cash in US Dollars and were glad we did. We got great conversion rates in Spain and Portugal and saved on ATM and other fees involved. Talk to the locals and make friends. We found an Irish pub in Plaza Mayor in Madrid and made friends with the bartenders. They gave us the scoop on what was going on in the city and what areas were fun to visit. This helped us significantly since local knowledge is unbeatable. Have a fun European adventure!

 

Varsha shared some photos from her trip.  You can see them below.

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