Am I too cheap to check a bag?

Nope, this post has nothing to do with checked baggage fees. Hear me out. So on Sunday I’m leaving for my trip to Istanbul and Hong Kong (by the way, as of now we’re still the only people booked in first class on the first three longhaul segments), and I’m slowly starting to think about packing. I typically only travel with a carry-on and laptop bag, but I’m actually thinking about checking a bag. Why? Well, I’d love to take along my toiletries, and more importantly I’ll be getting more amenity kits and pajamas on this trip than ever before, so it would be nice to have a place to store them.

So it seems like a no brainer, but there’s one thing holding me back. When checking in at hotels I like to handle my own bags. While the bellmen always try to take my bag, I refuse, and I typically don’t feel like a total jerk since it’s a simple carry-on I can easily handle myself and it contains all the documents I need to check-in. The reason I don’t like them handling my carry-ons is two-fold. First, I get a bit annoyed when I have to give them a bag and have it show up 10+ minutes after I get to the room, especially when it’s midnight and I want to go to sleep. Second, I don’t feel like giving someone $5 for the privilege of having my bag delayed. If I did I’d just start tipping rampers. Most importantly, though, it adds a bit of time and hassle throughout the whole trip.

So that leaves two options: don’t take the extra bag or just tell the bellmen “no thanks.” I’m thinking that would get more of a confusing look at a five star hotel than at other hotels. Ultimately traveling with one bag would be easier, too. Or do I need to figure out a way to turn my two rollaboards and laptop bag into one, big, rolling unit?

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Good point on the bellmen, but with one bag is it really an issue? They never tend to bother me with just a roller board and a laptop bag. However, when I am with the lady friend on vacation they take her 65 lb bag (thanks for *A baggage allowance for 1K’s) and I am happy to let them and compensate

    My general philosophy is “you pack it, you cary it.” Unfortunately she tends to disagree.

    Then again, I haven’t made it to asia and understand that most high end hotels would carry your air guitar for you with extra care if you wanted… as long as a gratuity was involved.

  2. One roller sideways on top of the other one, and laptop bag over your shoulder. No need for any ‘help’.

    That said, with larger bags that are heavy, and traveling with my wife, I really do appreciate the immediate help upon arrival. There shouldn’t be any meaningful wait for the bags (they should arrive while the hotel staff is checking me in in my suite 😛 ).

    But what REALLY irks me is when no one helps immediately upon arrival, we start taking the bags inside ourselves, and as we’re already inside the door they come over to try to take our bags. Gee, thanks.

  3. I am like you Ben and like to be in control of my bags at all times. I feel that if I am capable of easily carrying my bags to my room, why would I tip a guy to do it for me. At a recent Hilton stay, I carried my bags from the taxi, to the front desk, and got to the elevator before the bellhop came over. He got kind of mad when I told him I am all set as I am about to get on the elevator to my room. Too little, To late.

    On the other hand, I do secret hotel evaluations where I act a regular guest of the hotel and score the staff and property of the hotel. With a majority of those situations I have had some of the worst and slowest bellhop service. One time it took four phone calls and 2 hours to bring my bags to my room. As part of the evaluation, I have to get the bellhop to bring my bags from the room to the car. Last time, it took 95 minutes for a bellhop to come.

    If I dont have to, I always keep my bags with me no matter what kind of hotel it is.

  4. Does your checked suitcase have an attachment strap so that you can hook your carry-on (or even your laptop bag) onto it? One thing attached there and the other over your shoulder…one free hand, and no problem looking like you can handle it all easily.

    Also, not sure about the relative size/design of your carry-on and laptop bag – could you consolidate those two things with a laptop backpack or messenger bag that can carry your electronics PLUS your book, quart-size ziploc bag, and semi-change of clothes? For 95% of my trips, I’m either JUST taking my laptop backpack (if it’s a MR or one-night stay) or that plus a rolling suitcase that can either go in the overhead bin, be gate-checked on a little plane, or get checked on the return if I’ve acquired more liquids or something…

    I personally MUCH prefer the comfort of either the backpack or the across-the-body messenger bag compared to something balancing on one shoulder, plus the fewer separate “objects” one has to think about/remember/balance, the easier!

  5. Assuming most or all of your carryon items (not your laptop bag) can be consolidated into your suitcase, you could have just one bag + laptop bag. Or, replace your standard carryon rollaboard with a smaller duffle. Duffle + backpack + suitcase is easily doable for one person, with one hand still free.

  6. Yeah, I think you’re too cheap. I don’t think you’re worried about the tip ($5 for a bag is a bit much, in my experience – $2/bag). Moreover, you probably would pack light and be able to carry all three of your bags up to the room. If you’re in a midnight situation, tell them either to walk up with you with the bag, or you’ll take it yourself (I hate when bags take forever to come up..usually a bigger problem with group moves).

    Have fun!

  7. You can easily carry/wheel all those bags yourself. Plus, you write “we” so have your travel mate put your laptop on their rollaboard and you can pull 2 rollaboards.

    Who cares if the bell staff is miffed at your choice to haul your own bags?

  8. Lucky, I usually get into the city with public transport upon arriving at my international destination, so I have some distance to walk to the hotel or a possible short cab ride from the train station. If the bellhop tries to take my bags, I politely tell them that I just walked from the train station, so I can handle my bags for the short distance to my room. If arriving by cab, I tell them I am fine to handle my bags. In Japan, I let the staff handle my bags as tips are not expected. In short, my advice is to check a bag, so you can bring back all of your amenity kits.

  9. “I don’t feel like giving someone $5 for the privilege of having my bag delayed. If I did I’d just start tipping rampers.”

    I LOL’d this one… and that’s coming from a former ramp rat.

  10. I’m in PHL this week with four pieces of baggage. My two checked wheelies are attached with my duffel bag on top and my laptop bag in the other hand. No bother from the concierge at Loews.

    You should be fine as long as you can easily carry all your bags yourself.

  11. $5? I tip bellhops THB 20 in BKK and INR 30-50 in India. If carrying my bag between the Westin and Sheraton on Sukhumvit then I tip THB 100 to the one that carried it from one hotel and another THB 20 to the one that brings it to my room at the other hotel.

  12. I’ve never been known to travel light! And also believe in the “if you packed it, you lug it” and I do. Hotel staff may glare – though I’ve never really taken notice – but I get my own luggage to my room. I hate watching it disappear without me and arrive who knows when. Maybe they just figure I’d be a lousy tipper anyways (I’m not!) Happy travels to you!

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