You’ve booked your holiday, you’ve packed your bags, and you have your passport ready and US dollars in your wallet. A holiday across the ditch to our cousins in North America is a dream come true for many who go, but there are a few things you need to know about travelling there – tipping is one. There are few social customs in the US more confusing to travellers than tipping. To most Americans, being tipped, or receiving a gratuity, is a normal part of day-to-day life for many workers, but if you hail from a country where tipping doesn’t happen it can create a problem. Unfortunately Australians have a bit of a reputation for being poor tippers, but if you simply don’t know when, and how much, to tip, what are you supposed to do? Minimum wage in the USA is extremely low leaving many employees dependant on tips, so if you plan to travel there on holiday there are some guidelines you’d be wise to follow. Firstly, make sure you have plenty of $1 and $5 bills; you’ll need these to tip most people you’ll encounter on holiday, starting with the airport porter who helps you with your bags.
While on holiday you may well take a few taxis, so plan on adding around 15-20 per cent to the fee. At hotels, if you rent your own car and use valets for parking at your hotel, you’ll need to pay $3-$5 each time you pick up, and on arrival if a porter carries your bag to your room, expect to tip $2-$3 per bag. If you use the hotel concierge to organise something for you, such as making a dinner reservation or booking a tour, make sure you tip them $10-$20 at the end of your stay, and you can really benefit from tipping housekeeping every day between $2-$5, leaving the money and a thank-you note. If you take advantage of room service, make sure there is or isn’t a default tip on the bill; some include a “service charge,” which goes to the hotel, which means you will still need to add a tip of 15-20 per cent when the person delivering knocks on your door. And finally when dining out, be prepared to leave a tip of at least 20 per cent on the bill and no coins, and always tip a bartender $1 for every drink you order.