Tip Toe Through The Tulips

by Nancy Bestor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast month, when dropping off a car with a hotel valet in Los Angeles, I didn’t have a single dollar in my pocket for a tip. In my defense, I didn’t know that the hotel where I was staying was “valet parking only”, and rarely, if ever, do I have any cash on hand. I embarrassingly told the valet that I had no cash and would make sure to take care of him the next time I saw him (a likely story, right?). I also gave him an extra big smile—which I’m certain went a long way.

Tipping almost always makes me uncomfortable, particularly when I’m traveling. I’m savvy when it comes to tipping a waitperson 20% of the bill (although I admit, I’m terrible at math), but when I’m traveling, tipping is not always as black and white, and so I don’t always know the proper etiquette. Do I slyly hand a few dollars to the valet or bellboy as if I’m making an illegal transaction? Do I leave money on a messy bed for the hotel maid? Should I tip the hotel doorman when he hails me a cab? This story in CNN Money answered most of my questions. It did not, however, teach me how to slyly tip the valet.

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