As all travelers know it, the maid is the stranger who enters your privacy the most. You usually appreciate the services she provides. Not only does she make your bed, clean your bathroom, mop the floor, make sure you have enough towels, but she also decorates the bed with flowers and origami towels. In the evening, she prepares your room for bedtime and sometimes perfumes it with relaxing scents for better sleep.
Before you leave your home, think about all the services your maid will be providing. How much will she contribute to the success of your vacation? You would like to offer her something, but what?
What or how much? That is the question! My answer: it depends where you go on vacation. I've prepared a memory aid according to the destinations to help you see more clearly. Something simple and easy to remember.
I suggest you give money if you are a traveler who likes to travel light. How much money? The equivalent of $US 2.00 to $US 5.00 per day, depending on the services you require from your maid. You can leave your tip daily on the pillow or put it in an envelope at the end of your stay, in which case, you should hand deliver it to her.
Leave the equivalent of $US 2.00 per day if you don’t make any personal requests. But if, like me, you have a lot of requests ranging from the amount of towels and sizes you want, ask for an extra bottle of water and your favorite soft drinks in the mini bar, request for laundry services... (Did you know that in some hotels, the maids bring your clothes home to wash and iron them when you ask for laundry service?) Travelers like me who ask a lot should give $US 5.00 per laundry day and $US 3.00 on days when you have less requests.
Tipping rules are not the same everywhere. In North America, it is standard practice to leave 15% before taxes to the restaurant waiter, and the same is true for bartenders. In Europe, tip is included in your bill, so you don’t have to add anything else. In sun destinations, the rules are not quite the same and the rates are very different. For example, one day, we ate a big lobster dish in a Trinidadian restaurant. Four of us ordered starters, main courses and drinks. The waiter presented us with the bill: 45 CUC in total or the equivalent of $US 45.00 tip included for four people. We added 5 CUC to the total as we were in Cuba. The service was extraordinary and the meal was huge.
When taking a taxi, agree on the fare before boarding. If the price is reasonable, you may or may not add a few dollars if you received excellent service or if the ride took less time than you expected.
Tipping is not giving money to charity. You basically pay extra for a service you particularly appreciated. Some bartenders told me they enjoy the Canadian clientele as they are normally considered to be generous.
You may give a tip to whoever you want down South. Depending on the destination, the staff has its preferences and here they are:
Tipping in cash is given and appreciated in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, although the maids are also very fond of useful objects for cooking, body products as well as school supplies for their children. Money is preferred in all luxury destinations such as the Bahamas, St. Martin, Aruba and others.
Poverty is widespread when you travel to the Dominican Republic and shortages of basic products affect Cubans in their daily lives. Here is a short list of the most popular products thanks to unscientific surveys that I have myself conducted among staff working in various all-inclusive resorts in Cuba.
Body products, in order of preference :
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