How to tip your chambermaid

Let’s talk about your chambermaid for a minute.

The word “chambermaid” has been in use at least since 1578, but if you’re not comfortable with the word, level up to housekeeper or room attendant.

Depending on how you travel, you might never see your housekeeper. You might not even think about her, unless there’s someone else’s sock in the closet or there’s no coffee beside the coffee maker. But she spent up to half an hour in your room long before you got there and she’ll spend that long after you’re gone, erasing all traces of you.

Her physically demanding job—hauling laundry, vacuuming, cleaning mirrors and folding towels in at least 16 rooms per shift—means using more than 8,000 different body postures a day, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

For all that, she gets an average of $12.67 an hour during her 20-year career and rarely a thank you, so please don’t forget to leave her a tip. While $2 is customary for average motels, this is not the time to cheap out. Leave $5 a day—and if you’re staying in the same place for a while, do leave a tip every day, because you might not have the same chambermaid all the time. (By the same token, remember that the maid you tip might not be the one who cleaned the room before you got there.)

Be obvious about your tipping. The housekeeper will not touch money you just leave lying around the room. She might have left an envelope with her name on it, but if she hasn’t, make your own or leave the money on a sheet of paper with a giant “thank you!”

I’ve had entire little conversations with chambermaids I’ve never met: “Thank you! Also, the remote doesn’t seem to be working. Batteries low?” “Batteries changed—have a great day!” You want to guarantee you get an extra chocolate on your pillow? Leave that little note, friends. I’m tellin’ ya.

I’m not a fan of the tipping culture, but it’s a fact of North American life and few workers deserve it more than the women and men who have to change your sheets and scrub your bathtub. Am I right? Damn straight I am.

Chances are you won’t see her, but if you do, spare her a smile, okay? Have a two-minute conversation with her and thank her for keeping your room nice. It’s only a second out of your day and about eighty-seven points for you, karmically speaking.

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