One American’s Search for a Bank Account Abroad

Stocking up on GBP became my new hobby.

The Cost of Flying Across the Country to Be a Guest at a Convention

Opening Uber, seeing the “Surge Pricing” notification: $0 (because NOPE)

Yellow Cab to SEA: $50.70 (I’m going to this convention to talk about freelance writing, but I’m also going as the “occasional nerd musician” part of my bio, so I have music and merch stuff in two big bags. Otherwise I would have walked to the metro.)

Checking two bags: $60 ($25 for bag one, $35 for bag two, and why is it more expensive to check a second bag? It seems counterintuitive, economically; you want people to think checking two bags is a really great deal.)

Airport breakfast, SEA: $5 and change (I didn’t get the receipt so I don’t have an exact figure; included a banana, a lemon currant scone, and an enormous cup of coffee.)

Airplane WiFi, SEA-ORD: $9.99 (First time I’ve used internet on a plane, but I was able to complete five articles on my travel day so it was WORTH IT.)

Can’t Afford to Travel But Can Totally Afford to Be a Travel Snob

Most of the email newsletters I've signed up for go to spam. The ones that don't, I wish they did. Exception: The Travelzoo Weekly Top 20, which alerts me to the very best in airfare, hotels, and all-inclusive vacation packages that I have never and will never buy. I devour it each week.

Tipping Housekeeping is Controversial? (No It Isn’t)

The Marriott hotel chain has begun to include empty envelopes in its rooms to encourage / remind guests to tip the workers who have been folding their towels, making their beds, emptying their trash, leaving mints on their pillows, and generally making everything look like it was arranged by magic elves.

Tipping housekeeping in the US is expected and oh hey more complicated than I realized: etiquette requires “$2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels. Also more if there are more than 3 people in a room or suite. Leave the tip on your pillow or in a similar obvious place with a note that says thank you. Leave the tip each day when you leave the room, rather than at the end of your stay, because your room might get cleaned by different people each day, depending on staff schedules. If you have additional items delivered to your room, such as extra pillows, hangers, luggage racks, tip the person who brings them $2 or $3.” Okay!

But now that Marriott has provided a convenient way to tip that also makes the practice increasingly explicit, some folks are like, what, you’re gonna guilt me into tipping? Others have even used the word blackmail because times are so hard folks can’t afford dictionaries. NPR explains:

not everyone is welcoming the plan to promote tipping. Some compare it to blackmail. And hard-core business travelers who rack up hundreds of nights in hotels per year say they don’t want to tip in cash, as is customary. Instead, they suggest, the company should let guests add a tip to their room bill. If Marriott wants to see the wide range of responses, it won’t have to look far — people in its rewards program have been debating the issue for the past day. … This is a bit over the top for Marriott to be doing this to us, almost like black mailing us into it. If they are so concerned they should pay these hard working people a better wage! Letting Maria Shriver have this much influence over them is a bit disturbing. – pdyer

What does Maria Shriver have to do with anything? Never mind, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS, sorry. Anyway, think of Jenny when you travel, or that first diner scene in Reservoir Dogs (nobody wants to be Mr. Pink), and tip generously. If you don’t want to tip, don’t travel, or stay in an AirBnB, where I think you can get away without paying a gratuity. At least for now.

Traveling Without a Plan or a Budget

I'm in Croatia, and it's four in the morning. I have nowhere to sleep. I haven't changed my clothes in five days, which is fine because I don't actually have any other clothes to change into. This is all part of the money saving plan. Don't book places to stay—just meet people. Don't buy clothes—just smell bad.

Pound Foolish Travelers

Seth Kugel has an excellent post over at the Frugal Traveler about irrational saving when traveling on a budget.

Chatting About Work Trips and Expense Guilt

Meaghan: Expenses are the best thing about work trips. But also very fraught. Or in the hands of people like us, very fraught. EXPENSE GUILT! Mike: Oh totally. I am bad about expensing things—or maybe I feel bad about expensing things. For example, I will be taking public transportation to the airport even though I can just hail a cab or order an Uber and expense it.

Paying Extra for a Flight for the Convenience of a Better Seat

I’ll be visiting family for Christmas, and I just bought my plane tickets online. I know that I should have bought them earlier, but I only had to pay for my return flight because I was able to buy my departure ticket using points I saved.

I have some self-imposed rules when choosing flights:

1) Avoid red-eyes if possible because of my inability to sleep for longer than 10 minutes at a time on planes.

2) When flying from the East Coast to the West Coast (where my hometown is), try to choose a flight that will land before 9 p.m. (to help with jet lag).

3) Pay the extra money for direct flights—time is money and I’d rather spend an extra $50 to not have to land in another city and wait for a connecting flight.