Tips on Tipping
By Anna Lynn Sibal
Do you give tips when you travel? Do you give generously, or not at all?
While it is not truly necessary, giving tips to the people who have served you during your travel, people like the valet who parked your rented car, the bellhop who carried your bags to your room, and the housekeeper who tidies your room every morning, is becoming customary. Giving tips can be seen as two things: as “grease money” to make the service rendered you a lot faster and better in quality and as a way of saying “thank you” for a job well done. Giving tips is not a requirement when you travel, but it helps a lot.
However, there is a time when you should be generous when tipping, and there is a time when you should keep your tips to yourself and just convey a verbal “thank you” instead. In some countries, tipping is welcome and even encouraged, while in other countries, the act of giving a tip is offensive and seen as bribery. When you prepare for your trip, be sure to include tipping in your research.
If tipping is acceptable in the place or country you are traveling to, here are a few general rules and etiquette that you may bear in mind when you make your tips.
1. Make sure your timing is right when you give a tip. If the timing is correct, a tip is welcome and is definitely seen as a “thank you.” If the timing is bad, a tip can become offensive.
2. If you have asked a particular member of the hotel staff to do errands for you more than once, a tip is in order. However, refrain from giving tips if the hotel has a no-tipping policy.
3. Tips at restaurants are generally pegged at 15% of the total bill, but you can safely forego this if the bill includes service charge.
4. Giving a large tip to a particular person up front in order to get special treatment during your stay at a hotel is fine, unless the hotel’s regulations specify against tipping.
5. Always check if the hotel you are staying in has a no-tipping policy. For smaller, family-run inns and bed-and-breakfasts, it is safe to give staff tips if they are not part of the family that runs the establishment.
6. Keep your bills in handy bundles and in small denominations so you do not have to dig for one when you have to give tips to the bellhop or the housekeeper.
7. If you do not have smaller bills on you, you can skip the tipping. This is so much better than asking for change from the person who served you, not to mention downright embarrassing.
Again, giving tips should not be seen as an obligation that you are required to do when traveling. Also, the acceptability of tips varies from place to place and from country to country. Again, make this a part of your homework before you travel.