If tipping were as straightforward as most of us first tend to believe, then there would rarely be confusion, hesitation and — yes — maybe even arguments when the bill comes to the table you managed to snag at that hot, trendy restaurant downtown. And let’s be honest, we’re all counting our pennies, no matter how cavalier that last round of drinks seemed.
In general, we go for the widely accepted 20% tip of our total bill when eating out. But is that right at every restaurant? Was the service good enough to even have a tip? What about the taxi driver that brought you here? Or the salon you went to on the recommendation of a friend? Let’s not forget the bartender from happy hour either.
The list is quite a lot longer than you first thought isn’t it?
It took me quite a while to get used to the tipping culture when I first moved to the U.S. I’ve written about my confusions over tipping etiquette in the past, and even though I’ve spent nearly five years here, I still haven’t found a magical list that tells me exactly what the proper etiquette of tipping will be in any given situation. However, here are a few tricks of the trade you can use to have a general idea of what is acceptable in various situations.
Let’s start with the basic food service of delivery. It’s not that difficult to figure out. These people brought your hot and delicious meal directly to your door. It’s snowing outside. Give them a few dollars for their trouble.
The same applies for other dining establishments for carry-out or casual, buffet-style dining. A dollar or two for the bussers and servers that maintain the dining establishment is perfectly reasonable.
The age-old adage of adding 15-20% to the total of your bill is acceptable. Even if the service isn’t particularly outstanding, remember that most servers depend on those tips for a large portion of their salary.
Let’s face it, if you are so severely counting your pennies that you can’t leave a decent tip — you probably should have made that package of ramen at home instead. Don’t be that guy.
Avoid making these common mistakes.
If you take care of your bartender, they’ll take care of you. A dollar or two is acceptable for each drink you buy. If that’s steep, again you should probably leave and go drink that $4 bottle of Yellow Tail in your fridge.
Uber and Taxi Drivers
Generally, it’s customary to at least round up the amount to tip your taxi driver. They’ve had to deal with your ramblings at 3 am and was able to take you safely to your destination. Another dollar or two wouldn’t hurt.
The same could be said for your Uber driver. The app allows you to pay for the fare cost, but doesn’t automatically add in the tip. Whether or not you should tip your Uber driver is a topic of heated discussion, but it’s still an appreciated gesture regardless. The drivers use their own cars, own gas, and some of them even go out of their way to offer bottled water or candy. A cash tip would be an easy way to show your gratitude. And if you choose to not tip, it’s your right since the entire basis of the Uber experience is that the entire ordeal is done cashless.
Beauty and Grooming
This area of tipping is a bit murkier than the others, but if you stick between 10-20%, this should be acceptable no matter if you’re visiting the manicurist, hair stylist or masseuse. A good haircut should be rewarded right? You don’t want to anger anyone with scissors close to your head.
You’re accustomed to tipping the porter or bellhop a few dollars if they have lugged our bags to our rooms, or the valet for parking our car. But it’s also important not to forget the housekeepers that will clean your room during your stay.
Make sure to leave the tip in an obvious place, and maybe even leave a little note expressing your gratitude. You’ll not just be well taken care of, but generosity just makes the world a more enjoyable place for everyone. Embrace it.
It’s no secret that all tours are not created equal, and neither are their guides. You may even find yourself in a situation where you feel as if your guide is pressuring you to leave a tip. However, if you have just strolled through the streets of downtown Chicago, for example, and your guide has left you with lesser-known anecdotes that really make your tour special, a tip is something you should absolutely leave with them.
A percentage of your tour price is generally acceptable, somewhere between 10-15%. Feel free to leave more, though. After all, you’ll be able to pass along your own story to your friends about having a drink in one of Capone’s original speakeasies.
As if tipping wasn’t complicated enough, the above advice doesn’t apply universally. In Europe, while tipping isn’t unheard of — and, of course, it’s still appreciated — it’s not expected. Server salaries don’t run in the same type of system as the hospitality industry in the U.S.
Don’t fret too much, though. If you want to leave a tip for your server while on vacation for their outstanding service, they won’t complain. Rounding up to the nearest euro amount is also acceptable most places.
If you’re curious about what is customary no matter where you are, you can look into tipping etiquette across the globe and see how/if they differ from one another.
Still don’t trust your own judgment? Don’t worry. There are even tipping apps to assist you.
Let’s be honest though, erring on the generous side is usually your best bet, regardless of what situation you find yourself in, or where in the world you may be. If you appreciate people for the services they render, you’ll reap the rewards with better quality service and a more memorable experience.