You’ve booked your holiday, you’ve packed your bags, your passport is ready to go, and you have US dollars in your wallet. A holiday across the Pacific with our cousins in North America is a dream come true for many, but there are a few things you need to know about travelling there – with tipping being one. As many Australians discover, there are few social customs in the US more confusing than tipping. To most Americans, being tipped, or receiving a gratuity as they often refer to it, is a normal part of day-to-day life for many workers, but if you hail from a country where tipping doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen to the same degree, it can create problems. Australians have a bit of a reputation in the USA for being poor tippers, but if you simply don’t know when, and how much, to tip, what are you supposed to do? The minimum wage in the USA is extremely low, which leaves many employees dependant on tips, so if you plan to travel there on a holiday there are some guidelines you’d be wise to follow. First, make sure you have plenty of small denomination $1 and $5 bills; you’ll need these to tip most people you’ll encounter on a typical holiday, starting with the airport porter who helps you with your bags.
On the road you may well also take a few taxis, so plan on adding around 15-20 per cent to the fee for the ride. At hotels, if you rent your own car and use a valet for parking at your hotel, you’ll need to pay $3-$5 each time you pick up tour car, and on arrival, if a porter carries your bag right up 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, be 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 somewhere easy to find such as on the bed. If you take advantage of room service, before tipping, check to see if there is or isn’t a default tip on the bill; some include an automatic “service charge” going 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 without coins, and always tip a bartender $1 for every drink you order at a bar.