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Dollar Store Gift / Tips For Cuba

I take in a few dollar store items for tip / gifts. Would you like my list of what I take in ?

Tips are a way of showing respected and a way of showing appreciation for work well done

don’t tip to get service, that is just bad manners…

and gifts are for friends

Sorry but I have been to Cuba 83 times in the past 21 years and most of my tips are gifts.

with that amount of travel I am sure you know most of the people you are visiting and I am sure they appreciate you thoughtfully thinking about them.

Thanks - Most of my recent resort visits have been to resorts we have stayed at before. I think our visits to the Marea Del Portiloo exceed 30. - Rio De ORo six - I.V. three - Brisas Guardavalaca seven and the list goes on and on - Si !!!

I agree with cubakingone that what we can buy here in dollar store cost much more for Cubans if they want to buy in Cuba and if they can find it. One example would be nail cutter set. So if you travel many times to Cuba you know what people need it. Another thing that most people are happy when they get is umbrella and it cost $2.5 in dollar store in Canada.

I usually pick up a few pairs of work gloves for the gardeners.

Is it me but a tip is just that $'s a gift is not a tip…it’s a gift. I would never leave a gift instead of a tip, even for my cuban friends…just saying…perhaps it’s just me…but they are two different subjects…

crabby I agree, good comment.

When I first started travelling to Cuba, I was under the impression from my travel agent (I still used them in those days)that bringing stuff to give away was an alternative to tipping in cash.

So I spent time accumulating things from shopping at dollar stores and what not, storing everything away until the day of the trip and I packed.

For the life of me, I felt so awkward trying to find reasons why I would give this stuff to someone while I was in Cuba. I also thought about the energy, time and expense that I spent in getting all these things. Not to mention finding space in my luggage for everything. I didn’t enjoy this and it felt like a burden having to figure out what to give to who. Not to mention it’s just cheaper just to give CUCs.

So after about two trips, I just didn’t bother with all the fuss and stress of getting “good stuff” that people would like. It was like a huge weight lifted off of my back. I know that some people get off on giving things away, but to me it becomes an obligation and I rebeled against it.

I’m not even that fond of tipping in cash. There is a culture here in Canada where we seem to tip almost everybody. Tip jars abound in coffeeshops and other stores. Even the bakery I used to go to, had a tip jar on the counter???

So I do tip people in Cuba but only for those who provide me a service like they would elsewhere. i.e. bartenders, wait staff, bellboy, and not much else. It seems to be out of hand, when people tip and give stuff to gardeners, security guards, diswashers, and anyone else they see. I don’t care if anyone wants to do that, but I personally don’t think that it’s necessary.

Anyone who has been to Cuba a few times should make it habit to bring CUCs back with them for the next trip so they don’t have to waste time standing in line ups at the airport Cadeca or stress out about having money for tips when they arrive.

On some Facebook websites devoted to certain hotels, there is almost the air of competition to see who can bring the most expensive items to give away.

it is odd that old, not necessarily good information lingers. We too have been travelling to Cuba for 16 years now and I think our 3rd trip I had a pack of pencil crayons and few other so called “needed” items in our room. And like sssnakesalive though …and what now??? I would spend a lot of our per-trip planning getting items. At the resort I would make nice little care packages like a facecloth with soap, stockings and a hair clip to hold it all together for the chamber maid and leave it on the bed. Cash works now…with the exception of a few good friends. It is far more appreciated over all than yet one more pack of stockings… Once I left a cover-up in our room. My friend who worked @ the resort had to buy it back from the chambermaid. It came back with a fellow traveller.

I have given a gift to a friend when appropriate. With the number of times Cubaking has been to Cuba, he must know nearly everyone on the island. (Say hello to Fidel for me next time you see him, by the way.)

It’s interesting, though the response I got from one of the gardeners that I got to know. I am a gardener myself (part time, and for my own amusement - not professional). But one of the resorts I had gone to several times had very nice grounds and gardens. So, I found some common ground with one of the gardeners who treated his job as more than just a job.
We communicated fairly well, between my broken Spanish and his broken English, with some sign language and pantomime thrown in. But he always worked in bare hands. I always garden in bare hands too, because, even where I live, the summer weather is too hot for me to wear gloves. My hands sweat, and get a lot more sore than they ever do from a few calluses. It seems, if I understood correctly, that he felt the same way about it as I did. So, I think that maybe that is one of the reasons that I seldom see gardeners in Cuba wearing gloves.

My bad…chaulk it up to not knowing better. I thought I was being nice remembering the gardeners who seem to get overlooked alot. I will cross that item off my list :sunglasses: I am glad that Canucks and CubaJack pointed it out to me though…thanks :slight_smile: I would feel like that person who walks out of the washroom with paper hanging out of their pants… lol :smiley:

no, no, no don’t you wanted to help, so do we. Another idea if you are a repeat client. Take a couple of nice pictures of the gardener and their flowers . Get them printed on photo paper and take it back to them on the next trip. Maybe as the gift include a frame for the picture.

Don’t feel bad, Gef. If the gardener you gave the gloves to didn’t need them, he probably found someone to trade them with. What my friend did seem to appreciate was the English Spanish dictionary/phrase book that I gave him. I had two identical books, and gave him one and kept the other. Then when he was on his breaks, we would sit down sometimes and try to learn each other’s languages. We still communicate with some kind of Spanglish (Inglispañol?), but it works.

I used to take a lot of stuff, but I didn’t hand it out to people willy nilly. I tipped and gave a little extra in gifts to those who had gone out of their way for me, particularly nautical staff, because I love to sail. Between my husband and I, we pretty much outfitted the Sol Cayo Santa Maria nautical staff with backpacks. We took them down, used them for the week, then gave them away. Years later I saw that they were still in use (therefore not gone to the black market, and definitely appreciated). The result was that for a few years (before the staff changes that came with new hotels opening) nobody in the nautical center would accept tips from us. Believe me, we tried! The response was always, “no, you are our friend”.

I still pack something with me just in case I encounter someone who goes “above and beyond”, but I have ceased bringing much more than chocolates, which I do enjoy myself and also love handing out to staff and guests as well. :slight_smile:

Great ideas Canucks and CubaJack. Actually, I always try to bring 1 or 2 Spanish/Englich dictionaries. When we were at Villas Jibacoa, I met a gentleman who was a teacher (but not working). He would walk down the beach from the campismo and I loved talking to him. I gave him my dictionary a the beginning of our stay and it was like I gave him gold. He actually had tears in his eyes. All week I would see him and he would be talking to other vacationers and always had my dictionary with him. He knew I wanted to better my spanish and invited me to come back another year and he would happily sit with me and teach me. He was a wonderful man! :sunglasses:

Took me 2 trips to figure out why the gardeners did not use the gloves I had brought them (even though they thanked me profusely), they just are not used to using gloves when working. Last year I brought two pairs of garden clippers, wow, they all but prostrated in front of me. Don’t know if the shears were “gold in them thar eyes” or if they were actually going to use them, but they seemed more elated than with the gloves.

And speaking of picture frames, I brought back a framed picture of a dear worker(friend) in which we see her sitting at her desk behind a computer, talking to clients. She was THRILLED that she was able to show her parents (who had never been to the hotel and had no idea the type of service she provided). Ya know, not all Cubans have cell phones with a gazillion apps… Just sayin’.

If you could be a fly-on-the-wall and listen to what was said behind your back after giving a resort worker a dollar store “gift” the embarrassed flush on your face would linger for weeks…


My best :::

  1. After shave
  2. Perfume
  3. Lipstick
  4. Key chains
  5. Canada flag decal
  6. Spices / sauces
    7., Hand mirrors
    8…Chocolates / candy
  7. White sport socks
  8. Pens