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.
I am, of course, talking about cash. Whether you call them dollar bills, singles, ones, or as my dad says, “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 excellent 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 kinda awkward. I know they don’t mind since it means they’re getting a tip. But 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. Possibly an uncomfortable 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. 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 in the room (and a note to let housekeeping know it is for them) because it’s all I have.
It’s somewhat easier now that Uber, Lyft, and even taxis will allow you to add a tip to your bill (however, giving cash might help your Uber rating).
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.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary