Tipping 2.0: What to Do When a Tip Is Tricky

1323128287_80a43fb232_z (1)Have you ever had tipping shame? I define this as a situation in which you had good intentions but because of a lack of knowledge or resources you did not leave an appropriate tip—and regret it? I have. Check out my recent post on TravelSkills.com where I confess to six travel tipping situations that have tripped me up. There you’ll also find my thoughts on how to handle a few of those situations—but not all, because answers are rarely clear-cut when it comes to tipping.

I’d love to hear about any awkward tipping situations you’ve encountered, too. Travel so often puts us in unanticipated and confounding circumstances. But that’s what keeps it interesting, right?

In the meantime, when in doubt, I’m erring on the generous side.

Photo: Flickr/Shawn Rossi

How to Travel Like a Caveman

5459938298_1d7141f127_zCavemen can become nervous on airplanes or at a power lunch—the Mediterranean snack box and pumpkin ravioli in cream sauce simply will not do.

In case you’re living under (or behind) a rock, the caveman diet (aka paleo) means eating as our Paleolithic ancestors did—primarily protein and non-starchy vegetables and fruits, and it’s a huge lifestyle trend. But a paleo diet can be a challenging proposition when traveling, as can be any gluten-free regime.

When I developed a gluten intolerance several years ago, it took me several months to grieve for the lost bread and pasta, but eventually I happily embraced a new way of eating that actually made me feel better (on so many levels). Gradually my eating evolved—or, since it’s reversed evolution, would the correct term be devolved?—to eating mostly paleo, like a caveman.

Over time, I learned how to order from just about any menu and how to navigate the occasional etiquette dilemmas. But travel still unnerved me—not just because of the unfamiliar food situations I’d find myself in, but also because the last place I want to feel sick is on a plane or in a hotel room.

So, when I signed on for a long business trip to India, I was apprehensive. Many of the foods would be unfamiliar, we would be dining at least once at a prominent executive’s home, and I feared the gluten intolerance would not be understood by restaurant staff.

As it turned out, this was not a problem. I did some planning (asked an Indian friend for advice on safe foods I’d commonly find served) and came up for a strategy for navigating the home meal. As it turned out, a number of dinners were chef-prepared and -presented in a private dining room. These chefs always made sure I was accommodated gracefully (and deliciously).

This week I wrote on TravelSkills.com about strategies for sticking to paleo and gluten-free diets when traveling. You’ll find the post here.

If you eat paleo or gluten-free, what are your tricks for staying healthy on the road?

Photo: Flickr/Tavallai

How – and Why – to Add a Ritual to Your Travel

15546530359_4f0d1da9f4_zHabits and rituals are trending. Or so it seems. There’s a whole body of literature on the subject now, and it’s a market that does not yet seem saturated. (A book I’ve particularly enjoyed on the subject is Daily Rituals, How Artists Work.) The theory is that habits, particularly morning habits, reduce cognitive load, preserving our limited decision-making capacity for later in the day when it’s really needed.

I have a morning ritual. I awake before the rest of the household, check email, do 10 minutes of spiritual reading, then head outside to exercise (usually a run). After breakfast and getting the kids off to school, I meditate and then write a little strictly for fun. Then I buckle down to work. I’ve been doing this, in the same order, for a few years.

After a while, I noticed I threw these habits out the window when I traveled. Maybe I figured the ritual would be disrupted because my travel days were disruptive. Or maybe I thought I needed a break, because travel is harsh. Or maybe I was just being lazy. Who knows. But one day, it occurred to me that I really had no excuse.

There was no reason NOT to do this when traveling. Especially without the “getting the kids off to school” part, I could pretty easily get up at the same time as at home, do it all and be ready for a breakfast meeting at 7:30. By now, I’m pretty devoted to my routine even when I travel, because I’ve felt the payoff. The ritual anchors my day.

By no means am I perfect. Sometimes if I’m out very late at a dinner the night before (which never happens at home), I’ll skip. Or if I’m getting sick, I’ll sometimes take the extra sleep. But I’ve found that a ritual makes my whole trip go better.

Travel rituals don’t have to be grand mirrors of your at-home rituals either. Even small gestures, done routinely, can bring on a sense of stability and home when you travel. (I used to buy a bag of M&Ms at the airport before every trip, and there was something satisfying about the tradition of this treat. Then I discovered the “240 Calories” in big type on the front of the package forgot to mention that’s per serving, with two servings per bag. My new snack ritual is a Kind bar.) Some people tap the plane’s fuselage as they step into the aircraft. One of my friends puts a framed photo of her family beside her hotel room bed. These little things can really ground you, even on a trip.

Whether it’s big or small, think about adding a ritual to your travel life. I guarantee you’ll be more at home, wherever you are in the world.

Photo: Flickr/Diana Nguyen

Travel Tip: Take a Photo of Your Hotel Door

4455716138_5093fa541e_zToo many hotel stays in too many weeks? Even for the most “present” business traveler, it can all become a blur. You get in the hotel elevator and rack your brain to try to recall which floor you’re on…in this hotel.

Problem solved: on your phone. A hotel executive told me one of her best travel tips is to take a quick photo of the room door–and number–when checking in. Then, when you find yourself in the elevator drawing a big blank, just pull out your phone’s camera roll, murmur, “Oh, that’s right,” and punch the elevator button.

I tend to keep the paper key sleeve on which the front desk clerk has written the room number, for just this purpose. But my friend points out that, especially for women traveling alone, it’s a safer bet to throw away the sleeve and use the photo instead.

Photo: Flickr/Xavez

Travel Tip: Mine the Wisdom of Nontravel Professionals

7004114708_441bf847ab_zThe most valuable travel advice may come from “real” business travelers—not those who make their living writing about travel. These people are superstars in their respective fields, and usually getting to that level requires a great deal of travel. Thanks to online publishing platforms, many share their travel wisdom with strangers like you and me. Here are a few of my favorite tips from a few of my favorite superstars:

Brad Feld, entrepreneur, writer and venture capitalist, has an admittedly contrarian tip for being more productive:  Eliminate business travel. Read the article to know what caused him to go cold turkey–instead of traveling he mastered videoconferencing. While I’m a firm believer in the value of face-to-face, I also believe business travel is better when trips are limited to the essential and augmented by videoconferencing.

Speaking of contrarian, Ryan Holiday, director of marketing for American Apparel, writer and media strategist, gets more done onboard by NOT: choosing Wi-Fi. Here’s his argument against logging in at 30,000 feet.

I’m a big fan of marketing guru Seth Godin. (Who isn’t?) In a surprising off-topic recommendation, Seth shares his secret for wrinkle-free packing. You, too, can look crisp wherever you go. (Plastic bags are sure to be either the salvation or death of the human race…I can’t decide which.)

Chris Guillabeau writes about entrepreneurship and is the force behind the annual World Domination Summit. There are plenty of blogs out there about hacking loyalty programs. (Heck, that’s practically a genre now.) But I think of Chris as a “nontravel professional” because his more front-and-center gig is as a champion of entrepreneurship. He shares his list of favorite tips, most of which have to do with accumulating miles.

Try searching on your favorite superstar’s name, then adding “travel tips” to the search. You may be surprised at what you find they’ve shared, whether in a blog post, interview, or tweet. What travel tips have you garnered from “nontravel professionals?”

(Photo credit: Flickr/Nick Harris)