Coming from a country where tipping isn’t really a way of life, we always struggle when we travel. From tipping the cab driver, hotel staff, wait staff, tour guides and so on and so on. What is the etiquette?
We’ve seen how they do it on tv but somehow when we are in the moment, it doesn’t quite feel as smooth (or look as smooth no doubt). The first opportunity to tip is usually after the cab driver unloads our luggage from the boot of his cab and we pay him the cab fare plus a bit more via the “secret” handshake. And before we can turn around, the hotel’s bellboy has snatched up our bag and is welcoming us to the hotel as we secretly hope that we have some small notes to tip him (because can you really ask for change? That would be awkward, right?) At the front desk, the staff are super friendly, and extra helpful to secure us the room with a view and a king size bed. So does that person get a tip? And how do we do it tactfully? Slide the bill across the counter? It’s all too confusing! And we’ve only been in the country for less than a day!
It’s time for food, so when do you tip? At what level of service? We have begun noticing that maybe overseas restaurants are catering for us Aussies who don’t quite know how much to tip, so a service charge seems to be appearing more often on the bill these days. This is absolutely fine by us because it helps us but somehow it seems odd when there is no service.
The next dilemma we then face with tipping is house-keeping! Is it better to tip daily or at the end of our stay? We choose to tip daily as its only fair for the housekeeper who does clean the room to receive the tip. But then where do you leave the money? We entertain putting it by the bedside but what if the housekeeper thinks its our money so doesn’t take it or thinks we are testing their honesty or takes a larger note on another day because we have accidentally left it lying around? Our solution has been to write a thank you note with a smiley face 🙂 and place it with the money (on the pillow – too tacky?) and that seems to have worked so far.
Tipping is such a delicate yet critical part of travelling. It’s about getting the act right as to not offend or belittle anyone. It’s about balancing the amount to show gratitude but to also make sure you have the right combination of denominations in your wallet to tip suitably. It is an art and maybe one day we won’t be tippy toeing about how to tip gracefully!