The Tipping Point

Having just returned from an international trip, I was amazed that “tipping” is still an issue for me – I simply never know what is appropriate or what is expected.  I have been in the “travel” business for most of my career and have had the opportunity to travel extensively.  So, why can’t I figure out what tipping policies are in the most frequently traveled to cities in the world?  I can’t even imagine what first time travelers go through!

Like many people, I often forget to do my research beforehand.  It is not until I am faced with my first unfamiliar tipping decision that I realize I haven’t a clue what is appropriate or, more importantly, what could be offensive.  Of course, if I ask fellow travelers how much to tip, I usually get several answers and very strong opinions as to what is the “right” thing to do.

Thankfully, there are online resources designed to help.  For the traveler, cheapflights.com has a great page that provides you with the Top 10 Tips in 10 locations around the world.  While not as specific as other sites, this is one of the best tipping resources for a good global perspective. .  Travel Sense also has a guide to tipping while traveling.

Of course, travel tipping guides are  not the only tipping guides on the web. There are tipping sites for just about every person and every need.  In 2010, Coupon Sherpa posted suggested tips for 63 different services. CNN/Money offers a tipping guide too. Moving.com has a whole story about how to tip your movers. Travel Sense has a guide to tipping while traveling.  Even The Frugal Bride acknowledges that some wedding vendors also must be tipped. Holiday tipping is an art form of its own.

The continued economic “challenges” has made tipping even more important because so many people now rely on these gratuities to make ends meet or as their only source of income.  But there are also times that tipping is no longer our choice – mandatory service charges are everywhere it seems.  But, by the same token, you don’t want to tip so little that you end up being followed out of a restaurant by an upset waiter, or worse, end up on the List of Bad Tippers.

Finally, New Orleans is not immune.  Tipping musicians, mimes, etc. in New Orleans is a discussion on tripadvisor’s New Orleans forum and Tripsmarter.com has its own page for New Orleans Tipping Tips.

When in doubt, tip more than you think you should as long as you can afford to. Remember than an extra dollar or two can turn an okay tip into a tip-to-talk-about for your server.  If that extra couple bucks won’t hurt you, it can make a bellman’s day.