One Important Thing To Have With You When Traveling In The U.S.

As you can tell, I like to travel (usually with Sharon). However for all of my advance planning and packing lists, there is one thing that I forget to bring almost every time. I’m not talking about a razor (like on our trip to Chicago not long ago) but something you always need at one point or another during a trip.

Note my stubble during our selfie at The Bean (I forgot to pack a razor)

I am, of course, talking about dollar bills, singles, ones, or as my dad calls it “smooch money.” You know, tip money for the bellman, taxi (or Uber/Lyft) driver, housekeeping or any other place you wish you had a few bucks with you to leave as thanks for good service.


I don’t usually carry cash with me because I don’t get points when paying with cash. However, there are some instances where cash is necessary. I can’t leave my credit card on the pillow of my room and tell housekeeping to charge me $3-5 for their time. I can’t add $10 to my room charge to give the bellman for bringing two bags and two cases of wine to the room in Portland after visiting Willamette Valley.

Have you ever had to ask a bellman to break a twenty? I have. It’s really awkward. How much change should you ask for back? If you have a bunch of luggage, they might just think that you’re a good tipper. Not a good situation.

I’ve occasionally made an early morning trip to the front desk asking the staff to break a $20 so I have money to leave for housekeeping. I’ve also found that hotels do not even have a great deal of cash on hand to make change. A trip to the 7-11 to get a Coke Zero just to get change is not a good start to any day. I have occasionally left a dollar or two in loose change when leaving the room (and a note to let housekeeping know it is for them) because it’s all I have at the time.

Tipping with coins in Europe isn’t as bad as doing so in the U.S. (Their coins are worth more)

Now some companies are trying to make my cashless life easier. I read just before our above-mentioned Chicago trip that Uber now allows you to leave a tip through the app. I didn’t read the part where this is only in select cities and requires that you have the most recent version of the app AND that your driver has to be set up to receive tips. It turned out I had no money after our trip to give as a tip and I felt bad because our driver was awesome (and had a Jeep Wrangler, just like Sharon).

So be smart. Make sure to break some of those bills in your wallet before you go away or buy something in the airport (after security) and ask for change in singles. You’ll be happy that you did.

What’s the most awkward tipping situation that you’ve ever been in? Have you overtipped because you didn’t have any small bills? Did you not leave a tip and feel bad about it afterwards? Let us know in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “One Important Thing To Have With You When Traveling In The U.S.”

    1. Thanks for the info. We tend to stick to Uber because 1) we don’t use it much. 2) I get free rides each month from my AMEX Platinum and 3) Sharon is still leery about jumping into “someone’s car”. We have several friends who drive for Lyft so I don’t want to paint with a wide brush but I’m still skittish about getting a car with Lyft that we’ll be leery about getting in to.

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