Thought Catalog
April 25, 2017

Why I Stopped Letting Housekeeping Tidy Up My Room

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The Blog Abroad

Being on vacation means that sometimes the hardest question you’ll have to ask yourself is ‘how soon is too soon for cocktails?’ and ‘do I keep the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on so housekeeping skips over my room?’

I empathize to the deepest degree with your dilemma.

And after a couple random run-ins and a few chats with housekeepers here in Brazil, it led me to ask my Facebook network about their thoughts which you could see/read their responses in its entirety here.

I adore my Facebook friends and followers, because they’re made up of people from over 100 countries and such varied lifestyles, professions, and travel backgrounds.

And some people brought up some great points that I wanted to highlight before chiming in with my own thoughts.

So, do you like housekeepers to “tidy up” your room? Here’s what you guys said…

The Blog Abroad

Overall, your answers matched my presumptions, and 55% of you agreed that you rather not have a housekeeper tidy up your room and run the risk of your things being tampered with, while 27% of you said yes, it’s part of your vacation, you’d like to always return to fresh linens, and lastly 18% who agreed that while they don’t need a daily fix up, a drop in every few days doesn’t hurt.

Absolutely reasonable! And before I dive into my reasons, I just wanted to add some context.

In many cases, they’re overworked and underpaid, and despite what some might think, you choosing to not have your room made up doesn’t take away from their salary.

They’ll be paid regardless of you choosing to have your room cleaned or not, as it’s something that’s part of their overall duties and fixed salary, not a pay-per-room type of situation.

That said, I did like how someone mentioned, that on your last day, leaving a note and a tip for them to collect is a nice token of appreciation.

Here’s some of my favorite commentary, and my two cents to add to each…

No. I personally do not like housekeepers to clean my room. Although it is a service included in the fee of a hotel, I have had housekeepers steal from my room. From the lounge and the safe (locked safe). —Diamond Z.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one nightmare experience to change your mind on this. I was pretty indifferent about housekeeping, but back in Greece last summer, there was a nice, Bulgarian woman who was the housekeeper, who accidentally threw away my Invisalign retainers.

This was my current and last set of retainers that I wasn’t going to be replacing until 4 months later when I got back to the U.S. for my new ones.

They are so pricey to replace and despite it being next to my toothbrush and toothpaste, she had mistaken it as trash.

It was a harmless mistake, but when I went to reception to make them aware, their response was that I should’ve locked it up.

Not only that, but by the next day when I confronted the lady about it, she completely denied it, which I think she thought she’d be in trouble for, which wasn’t my intention.

And finally, after a few back and forths, they pointed me to where the big trash dumpster was on the corner, as if I should dumpster dive to retrieve it. *side eye*

It took one incident of a housekeeping disaster to remind me that though a majority of housekeepers are honest people who do their job well, letting them in your room while you’re away, runs you the risk of them tampering through your things and possibly throwing something of value in the trash by mistake.

Again, I don’t think she stole it (these are my disgusting retainers we’re talking about), so it was obvious that me wrapping them in a paper towel led her to believe they should be discarded.

Another person said…

No. I prefer to pick up after myself. I try to guide my behavior by the principle that my actions should be scaleable with a positive impact on the world (the world needs less maids, not more). — Mariza P.

I absolutely loved this answer, and again, this isn’t to guilt people who DO like their rooms tidied up. There really is no right or wrong answer to this question.

But growing up in a strict, Nigerian household, if my bed wasn’t made the second I took a step outside of my room, there would be hell and a half to pay.

I grew up doing basic chores, learning the importance of keeping your environment presentable, and basically there isn’t a Nigerian kid in the world who wasn’t making their own beds, doing their own laundry, and other basic house chores from the day they learned how to stand, LOL.

Here’s a cup of perspective for you…

As a former housekeeper I appreciate all this. Seeing a ‘do not disturb’ sign is such a relief, especially if it is a particularly busy week. — Rachel Y.

100% girlfriend. It was nice to have a couple housekeepers and family members of housekeepers chime in with first-hand perspectives.

And to be honest, who needs a new towel every day anyway? Rhetorical question, lol.

Beach days aside, I think we can manage to rub our filth over ourselves reuse our towels at least one other day.

I also now travel with several thousands of dollars of electronic equipment for work that I don’t want to always lock up or hide when I’m gone.

And sometimes I might come back from a long day out and toss my clothes to the other side of the room and jump in bed naked. My room, my rules. Cease the judgments please, lol.

Then the next day I wake up early to explore and I hate going through the mental recollection of whether I forgot to pick up my draws or not, LOL.

Even being in hostels, there are housekeepers. And most hostels have a communal kitchen and despite there being a sign that says, “PLEASE WASH YOUR OWN DISHES” every morning after breakfast, I will find the sink with an avalanche of dirty plates and cups left for — yep, the housekeeper to do.

People can be so sloppy and inconsiderate, and I don’t care that this is what they’re paid to do, if skipping over my room is one less task for their day, I will have them skip over me every single time.

Need new linens or another roll of toilet paper? Oh goody, hey room service! A 10-second phone call will fix that right up.

And while I understand we all have different styles of travel, and quite frankly different priorities and stresses, sometimes returning back from a long day of sight-seeing to a freshly-made bed is all part of the experience and luxury of traveling.

But as a full-time traveler, it’s something I no longer need or require to enjoy my hotel amenities. TC mark

Gloria Atanmo is a world traveler and author of From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World, available here!