Tipping Etiquette can be quite a dilemma, especially when travelling overseas, but being prepared will prevent it from becoming an embarrassing situation.
The rule is Be Prepared.
T-I-P tip. ‘To Insure Performance’. Some schools of thought believe that tipping should be done in advance – to insure (ensure) performance – especially if you want to impress someone.
Tipping in advance would take on a new challenge - how to know that you are tipping the right person (smile)?
Tipping can be tricky when it comes to takeout vendors.
Travel Tipping creates one of the biggest dilemmas facing the traveler in countries where tipping is the norm and expected.
Who to tip?
How much to tip?
How little to tip without appearing stingy?
Even when the tip is added to the bill as a service charge, a further tip is expected in many cases.
The service industry is notorious for this practice.
In the USA, Restaurant Tipping etiquette requires that a service provider be paid 15% to 20% of the bill rendered.
It would help to know that in the USA and Canada the internal revenue department assumes that a certain portion of a service person's wage is derived from tips and will add on that percentage and tax them on it.
Therefore, whether they receive a tip or not they will pay tax on it. So please be mindful of this and tip accordingly.
Also, if a tip is not given the person providing the service would be puzzled and wonder if their service has been inadequate ... especially if they have been very helpful and courteous.
Some European and Asian countries would be happy with a tip of 10% to 15%.
In Australia and New Zealand there is no such thing as tipping etiquette.
Employees are paid a decent wage so tipping is generally not expected and if proffered, the recipient could be delighted or embarrassed or both.
So, come and visit us.
We are friendly and won't be hanging out for a tip!
Not much anyway (smile).
There are more than two hundred countries in this world of ours.
In some, inhabitants expect to be tipped, some discourage tipping and some would be surprised if tipped.
Ask your travel agent about what is expected in the places you visit.
So called ‘Guides to Tipping’ are so full of contradictions as to defy logic.
The practices must have evolved in various mystifying ways.
Assume that a tip is expected of you.
Use Common Sense to determine the amount.
This will always be a dilemma as you can see from our suggestions.
Just go with your 'gut feeling' when in doubt (smile).
Would it serve everyone better if tipping were to be replaced by raising the wages of the hired help and increasing the price of the tariff or commodity to cover it?
One could argue that this would lower the standard of service by diminishing the incentive to provide excellent service.
But the service may be lacking anyhow, even where tipping is the custom.
Tourists in particular are fair game to have money sucked directly out of their bank by hotels and sea cruise companies for gratuities and the like.
Out of their wallets by foreign governments for port charges, visas and various taxes.
And out of their pockets by all and sundry between the air port and their hotel room for tips.
Having said all the above, our research indicates that a Rule of Thumb for tipping etiquette does exist.
In countries where tipping is the custom, tip 10% of the commodity charge for ordinary service.
And up to 15% for superior service (20% in the USA and Canada).
Pay a dollar or two for minimal service provided and ten to fifteen dollars for exemplary service that has extricated you from a tricky situation.
So, be prepared.
Always carry a fist-full of dollar coins and notes (or local currency equivalent) to reward a service if you are within spitting distance of a hotel, restaurant
or any place where someone may do something for you to make your life a little easier.
It goes without saying that when in a foreign country where tipping is expected, pay the dollar equivalent in the local currency.
That said, an increasing number of countries prefer US dollars to any other currency even their own.
This was our experience in Zimbabwe where the government and posh hotels treat local currency with contempt and refuse all but US dollars from foreigners.
This is what Lonely Planet says about tipping in the USA:
• Tipping is not optional; only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service
• Airport & hotel porters $2 per bag, minimum per cart $5
• Bartenders 10-15% per round, minimum per drink $1
• Hotel maids $2-4 per night, left under the card provided
• Restaurant servers 15-20%, unless a gratuity is already charged on the bill
• Taxi drivers 10-15%, rounded up to the next dollar
• Valet parking attendants At least $2 when handed back the keys
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