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We always end up feeling kind of superior when we write up intercultural tipping posts. If there's one thing in the entire breadth and depth of international travel that Americans do more politely than Europeans, it's that we tip instinctively and we tip well.
The inverse also tends to be true. More than once we've had a dinner where a European friend magnanimously insisted on paying the bill, only to dramatically undertip the server. Awkward!
But it's a wide world out there, with subtle customs and complex rules. Tipping practices can vary by country and sometimes even by region. Violating local etiquette can range from the merely de classe to the positively dangerous.
To help you avoid mistakes, Conde Nast Traveler (a relation to the Jaunted/HotelChatter/VegasChatter family) just published a huge guide to global tipping practices. Covering more than 35 major countries across every inhabited continent, it describes in detail who, when, and how much you should be tipping.
Does the guy or gal who spots you running to the bus stop deserve a little somethin' extra for holding the door open for you? Drivers of peseros, or microbuses, in Mexico City are demanding a little gratuity on top of the two-peso ($0.20) tickets to pay for gas and other repairs.
Fare hikes were applied to the local public transit system, but they only applied to the newest buses, leaving drivers of older, less environmentally sensitive vehicles in the lurch. Hence at least part of the reason for the extra fees.
If you wanna avoid the debate between 15 and 20 percent, just make room for taxi fares in your budget if you're traveling to Mexico City. The clowns alone ensure a very scary ride.
· Mexican Bus Drivers Want Tips Despite Harrowing Rides [AP, via Yahoo]
· Buses coverage [Jaunted]
While you recovered from your post Thanksgiving feast turkey-induced haze, Super World Travelers Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in Vietnam saving the world, on a motorbike.
The pair popped up in Vietnam, Saigon to be specific, checked into the Park Hyatt Saigon, and began to tip heavily. Reports came back that Brad and Angie were quite generous with the staff during their stay, showering them with extra gifts and tips:
"They're...tipping staff really well. When they had dinner they left a £40 tip on a £130 bill - and they asked not to be given special treatment!"
According to Asiatravel.com, tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it is appreciated. A 5-10 % tip on a meal can equal a whole days wages to a waiter or a waitress. Looks like the Super World Travelers just paid some lucky service worker's monthly salary.
Always nice to hear they're spreading the wealth to those working their asses off during the crazy holiday season. The big question was why they suddenly swung into town, perhaps to adopt another baby? The two jetted around on a rented motorbike sans helmets, and spent Friday at the Tam Binh orphanage in Saigon, even lunching there.
[Photo: China Daily]
Feel like you're been mugged by ambiguously titled "service charges"? Confused by the recent popularity of the "mandatory gratuity"? You're not alone--they've both become more prevalent in the U.S. in recent months, and many travelers are not happy about it.
Many of the gripes circle around the new mandatory gratuity for skycaps at airport curbside check-in, first instituted by American and United. Instead of tipping the skycap, fliers now pay a $2 fee. Tipping is optional beyond that, but the fee ostensibly pays the skycap's wage, which they receive plus benefits and bonuses for the number of bags that they check. Still, some feel extorted; skycaps may claim that they don't see any of the service fee, and fliers worry that their bags may end up in Topeka if they don't tip on top of the fee.
Hotels lead the way with this practice. There's the resort fee, plus some chains are adding mandatory gratuities to the bill in place of tipping bellmen and maids. Naturally, they make no effort to explain which system they use to the guests, who often tip beyond what they would have in the original system.
We've had plenty of experience in the service industry, and we can tell you that more tips are good--people don't tip as much as they should, on average. Tricking them into it and making guests feel powerless to withold the tip, however, is not the solution. Equipping the best employees with cattle prods to deal with the cheapest (and usually unruliest) guests is a better way--that's a concept we could support.
Image via DelScorchoSauce/Flickr]
· Demise of the Optional Gratuity [LAT]