Go-getter language is finally starting to dominate the discussion around women’s travel.
And for good reason.
Women make 80% of all travel decisions, and data collected in 2015 shows that 24% of people traveled alone on their most recent overseas leisure vacations, up from 15% in 2013. Solo travel among first-time travelers jumped to 37%, up from 16% in 2013.
With the advent of travel safety apps, Facebook groups, meetups, and Couchsurfing, women are finding it easier to travel, solo or not. The language surrounding women who travel is finally changing to match the independent and curious women who do that traveling.
But as self-sufficient adventurers, how often do we take a step back and thank the people behind the travel scenes?
These are the people who make our experiences possible, in many cases, and more comfortable, in most cases.
Think: Hotel staff who clean up after us 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Whether you’re the doorman at the Ritz Carlton or the housekeepers cleaning the sheets at $8-a-dorm-bed hostels, we need to thank you for all of the work you do.
And it’s not just hotel staff that help us on our travels. There are so many more people working in the travel industry who facilitate our adventures.
- Flight attendants
- Taxi drivers
- Tour guides
- The guy who takes your passport picture at CVS or the post office
- The lady in the airport security line who yells out directions
These people go above and beyond, in many cases doing things that aren’t necessarily part of their job descriptions. Take this example of a flight attendant who carried a crying nine-month-old boy up and down the aisles of a Southwest flight to comfort him. The boy’s mother was so grateful that she called Southwest airlines to thank the flight attendant, only to be met with a busy signal. So she took to Facebook, and her thank-you note to the attendant went viral. (And that’s just one way to get on a flight attendant’s good side!)
Hotel staff, in particular, have seen me at my best and my worst.
They’ve seen me running around in a jumpsuit and bright red lipstick, taking selfies with friends right before Enrique Iglesias and Maná concerts in Managua. And they’ve opened the door for me at 2 AM, my ears still ringing from the music.
They’ve also seen me at my most vulnerable, like after a long-distance breakup and an assault. Having a comfortable, quiet, safe place to sleep felt incredibly sacred when I wasn’t emotionally ready to be in my Peace Corps site.
To do my part to thank hotel staff, I wanted to highlight the stories of three female staff members.
So I interviewed the staff at Soma Surf Resort Nicaragua, starting each interview with the question, “What are you grateful for?” I wanted to expose the fact that these employees are people (and often travelers, too), with amazing stories to tell. All I had to do was ask.
Isabel, Housekeeper and Mother of Three Boys
I’m grateful for Casey, the owner [of Soma Surf Resort] because I left three times to try to move to Costa Rica, but I couldn’t get a visa. Casey has taken me back each time.
I’m also grateful for this job because I like to be busy. The job puts my mind, hands, and feet to work!
Juana, 24, Chef and Mother of Two
“I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, and sometimes we have reunions with people from all over Nicaragua. I like these reunions because I get to see friends who I haven’t seen in awhile.”
Amalur, 21, Chef and Mother
Amalur and I connected because I was born in Mexico, and she had been there.
“When I was 11, a friend said that I should try wrestling out. I didn’t ask my mom for permission. A week after starting, my coach wanted me to wrestle in a tournament in Managua.
“At the tournament I wrestled another girl in the 55 kilogram category. I locked her leg, then ended up fracturing it. When my mom found out what happened, she freaked out. I won four gold medals for wrestling, then went to Puebla, Mexico for a tournament. My mom helped me get my passport.
“It was great going running in the hills at 4:30 AM. I was there for two weeks, but I didn’t win any of my three matches.
“I liked Mexico. I tried the mole (meat cooked in chocolate and chili) and the candy made from chili and tamarind. It was a great experience.”
Those who work in the travel industry are almost never in the lime-light, but they all have stories to tell.
They’re often travelers themselves, they’re raising children, they spend time doing things they love, and they do the work that makes your travels easier for you.
Here are a few ways to thank them:
1. Leave a tip.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, tipping housekeepers $2 to $10 a day goes a long way.
A monetary tip will most likely be more appreciated than a chocolate bar or other food for several reasons. First, many staff members are mandated to discard food left in rooms.
Second, most hotel staff get very little money for long hours cleaning rooms and servicing customers. Housekeepers in Cambodia make as little as $124.53 a month, so they may see a candy bar or a smiley face on a note card as an insult — or just a piece of trash that was accidentally left behind to be thrown out.
Before a trip, learn about tipping etiquette. Check out this guide to tipping in 50 countries.
2. Leave behind or send a thank-you note.
Now that you’ve left your housekeeper a much-deserved tip, consider writing a personal thank-you note. This is a great idea for other employees in the travel industry too!
3. Brag about it!
Tell the hotel staff’s supervisors how much you appreciated their hard work. If you leave a review for a hotel or restaurant, be sure to mention the staff members who made your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Sending a positive feedback letter through an official site may get to a manager, potentially giving the staff member you commended a leg up when it’s time for a raise or promotion.
How have workers in the travel industry made a difference to your travels? Share in the comments!
Featured image by Unsplash user Nik Lanús.
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