Category Archives: Location Costs

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.19.02 PM

The Ultimate Guide To Tipping in the U.S. for Food, Travel, And Hospitality

The conversation about tipping in the U.S. has been in the news more than ever recently, with stories of miserly and generous restaurant patrons alike taking stands on the subject. The restaurant industry is beginning to experiment with alternative tipping, revenue, and pricing models in an effort to iron out many of the wrinkles in an industry where a living wage often depends on the non-requisite kindness of strangers. And for travelers, the tipping question goes well beyond restaurants. In the U.S. industries including transportation and hospitality also rely on tipping to various degrees, so it’s worth a deeper dive into how tips make a difference to the people working to make your stay, travel, or meal that much better.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.28.43 AM

Transportation

Taxi drivers who work for a taxi company (as opposed to owning their own vehicle) take home, on average, 33% of their total shift fares. This often works out to $8-$9 an hour after 12-hour shifts filled with stresses like urban traffic, rude/drunk patrons, and minimal bathroom breaks. Acceptable tips for cabbies can start around 10% (or a $1 minimum), but typically range upwards of 30%, depending on a number of factors: efficiency, safety, cleanliness, friendliness, traffic, destination, etc. Around 15% is standard, though most people tip 20 – 25% (in NYC anyway). If the driver help with bags, add an additional $1 – $2 per item is customary, especially if they’re heavy.

Much like the food-service industry, a valet’s base-pay is minimal and assumes tips will compensate. As valets are in charge of making sure the second-most expensive thing most people own (after a house) is navigated cleanly through tight spaces, the pressure is on for them to perform, and they should be tipped accordingly. Around $2 – $5 is standard, and the money should change hands when the vehicle is (safely) delivered. Many people choose to tip when dropping the car off as well to ensure quality service, though it’s not necessary. If there is a flat parking/valet fee, tips are still still expected.

Hospitality

Hotels employ in a wide range of rolls, many of whom are paid around the state’s minimum wage. Bellhops make, on average, $8.73 an hour, with a porter’s hourly wage leaning only slightly better. A standard $1 – $2 tip for each bag every time a bag is handled may not seem like a lot, but it adds up day-to-day. Add in an extra dollar or two if bags are heavy, and a $5 minimum is a good idea if they also escort you to your room. This generally applies to anyone who handles your luggage anywhere, be it a cab, a train, a hotel, or a cruise ship. If someone calls you a cab, another dollar or two is in order. They appreciate it!

The concierge exists solely to serve guests’ special requests. Their base pay isn’t much more than a porter’s, but the standard tipping range compensates them for their unique set of skills. No need to tip if you only get directions from them, but the more difficult the task, and the more time it takes (e.g. securing tickets to a sold-out Broadway show), the more they should be compensated. Tips for the concierge typically run $5 – $20.

Housekeeping, while they don’t often interact with hotel patrons, ensure a spick-and-span experience. Try and tip $2 – $3 per night, left daily in an obvious place. If your room is host to more than three people, or you make more than three-people’s worth of a mess, add a dollar or two for the extra effort. A brief thank-you note clears up any confusion as to if the money was left on accident, and it may make someone’s day a little brighter.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.27.51 AM

Food Service

As the industry currently stands, server hourly pay is usually well below minimum wage, in some states as low as $2.13 an hour. It is assumed tips will bring their wage up to a liveable minimum. The front-of-house staff (whom patrons interact with) often pool and evenly distribute their tips, but the kitchen staff rarely receives anything more than their base-pay. The system is imperfect, but restaurant owners are beginning to find more equitable ways to pay front-of-house and kitchen staff alike (though these systems aren’t without their controversies). Until the system is changed, and unless you’re eating in one of the few establishments trying out a new model, you should be tipping your server a minimum of 15%. If the service is exceptionally bad, and you are positive it’s the servers fault, speak to the manager before you get stingy.

A bartenders hourly base-pay is generally better than their table-serving counterparts, but a large portion of their take-home pay (which is likely underreported, and therefore difficult to track) comes down to tips. If all they do is transfer a beverage from a container to your glass (e.g. from a bottle or a tap), $1 per drink is standard. If the drink is a little more complicated, start at $2, and depending on how cute and/or chatty they are, tip to your heart’s content.

Tipping may be a controversial subject, but basic human decency is something we should all be able to agree on. If you’re lucky enough to travel, spread the wealth!

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 2.27.02 PM

The Traveler’s Guide to Tipping Internationally

Tipping is a hot topic in the United States these days, as rising minimum wages call into question the standard practice of making servers reliant on tips. For travelers abroad, tipping is an equally sticky issue. Figuring out what to tip when can all too quickly turn a relaxing vacation into a stressful one. Knowing what to tip, on the other hand, can empower travelers to navigate a foreign culture with ease.

Because tipping rules vary by country, region, and place of business, it’s important to research your destination’s customs prior to any trip. Start by consulting this guide, which outlines tipping customs in 20 countries around the world, for restaurants, hotels, and beyond!

Argentina

Restaurants: While tipping at restaurants and bars isn’t considered a necessity, many tourists often tip around 10%.

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected, but consider rounding up to the nearest whole peso so the driver doesn’t have to sort out change. If they help you with your bags, add on a bit more as a token of appreciation.

Hospitality: Tip tour guides up to 20% and always give bag handlers a small bill or two.

Australia

Restaurants: Australian servers are paid decent wages and generally don’t expect tips. Recognize exceptional service by rounding up the bill. In upscale establishments only, tip 10%.

Taxis: While tipping isn’t expected, it’s common courtesy to round up to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: For the most part, tips aren’t expected within the hospitality industry.

Canada

Restaurants: Canada’s tipping protocols are similar to those in the United States (although most Canadian servers are paid minimum wage before tips). Most restaurants expect a minimum 15% tip.

Taxis: It’s customary to tip cab drivers 10% upon arriving at your destination.

Hospitality: Tip concierges for exceptional service only, leave behind a few dollars (or more) for housekeeping, and give bag handlers $1-2 for each bag they carry.

The Caribbean

Restaurants: Most places in the Caribbean islands follow the same tipping standards as the United States, so in general plan to tip 15% or more. One possible exception: If you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort, check to see if the service charge is included.

Taxis: Plan to tip around $1-2 for in-town fares. Tack on a bit extra for late-night or long-distance rides.

Hospitality: Most hotels include a service charge in the bill. If this isn’t the case, be sure to tip bag handlers ($1-2 per bag) and housekeepers ($2 per day). Many resorts discourage tipping, so use your own discretion.

China

Restaurants: China has a fairly strict no-tipping culture (though some finer establishments may include a 10-15% service charge), so there’s no need to tip at restaurants. If you want to offer a tip for exceptional service, do so out of sight of the server’s employer.

Taxis: Tipping isn’t expected, but it is appreciated (especially in larger cities). Because there’s no customary rate, use your own discretion when deciding how much to tip.

Hospitality: Tipping is usually not expected, although this is changing in more westernized establishments. A good bet is to tip tour guides, housekeepers, and bag handlers a few dollars per day (or bag).

Costa Rica

Restaurants: Tip will be included in the bill at most Costa Rican restaurants. If you want to recognize exceptional service, add another 10% on top.

Taxis: Tips aren’t required, but it’s a friendly gesture to tip a few dollars or round up the fare to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: Tip tour guides 10-15%, and give a few dollars to bag handlers and housekeeping.

Czech Republic

Restaurants: While tipping wasn’t always standard in the Czech Republic, the custom has been catching on. There’s no need to tip if the bill includes a service charge (though feel free to add on another 10% for great service). If no service charge is included in the bill, tip 10-15%.

Taxis: Round up the fare to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: Give bag handlers $1-3 per bag, housekeepers $3-5 per day, and concierges $20 if they go above and beyond.

Dubai

Restaurants: The government requires a 10% service charge on all bills at restaurants, bars, and hotels. While it’s not necessary to tip more than that, you’re free to hand over a few extra dirhams to the server.

Taxis: Cab drivers don’t expect tips, but it’s polite to round up to the nearest 5-dirham note.

Hospitality: Because service charges are included in the bill, there’s little need to tip hotel staff unless you want to recognize great service.

Egypt

Restaurants: Tip will be included in the bill at most establishments, but plan to tack on another 5-10%.

Taxis: Pay cab drivers 10-15% beyond the stated fare.

Hospitality: Give housekeepers $1-2 per day throughout your stay, tip $1 per bag for bag handlers, and give the concierge $10-20 at the beginning of your stay to ensure great service.

France

Restaurants: French law requires that service be included in the price, but most locals round up their bills with small change (or up to 10% of the bill).

Taxis: Plan to tip cab drivers about 10%.

Hospitality: Give bag handlers $1-2 per bag and housekeepers around $2-3 per day. Exceptional service from the concierge should warrant 10 or more Euros.

Germany

Restaurants: Germany’s tipping customs work much like France’s: Service is included in the price, but it’s customary to round up the bill to an even figure (this usually amounts to 5-10% of the total bill).

Taxis: Round up to the nearest Euro or tack on an extra few Euros if you’re feeling generous.

Hospitality: While tips aren’t required, it’s courteous to leave behind a few Euros for housekeepers and to pay baggage handlers around 2 Euros per item. Slip the concierge 10 or more Euros for great service.

India

Restaurants: Tip 10% for the waiter, even at upscale restaurants (where a 10% service charge is included in the bill).

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected for short trips. If you hire a driver for a long trip or multiple days, tip around 150-300 rupees per day.

Hospitality: Tip bag handlers around 20 rupees per bag and offer tour guides several hundred rupees.

Italy

Restaurants: Tips aren’t expected, but feel free to round up the bill or tip 10% for exceptional service.

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected, but they are appreciated. Use your own discretion.

Hospitality: Ditto the above. Tipping really isn’t expected in Italy, but who doesn’t like being appreciated for good service?

Japan

Restaurants: It’s unlikely that a server will accept your tip, so it’s probably most polite not to offer one.

Taxis: Tips are not at all expected. A simple “thank you” will suffice.

Hospitality: Tour guides don’t expect tips but are likely to accept them. Hotel staff may refuse a tip if offered; you’re more likely to transfer cash if you put it in an envelope and leave it behind for staff, rather than foisting cash into their hands.

Mexico

Restaurants: When service is included in the bill, there’s no need to tip. Otherwise, plan to leave 10-15%.

Taxis: While tips aren’t expected, it’s courteous to round up the fare.

Hospitality: Many hotel staff rely on tips as part of their take-home pay, so be generous. Bag handlers, housekeepers, the concierge, and anyone else who performs a service during your stay warrants a tip. The amount is up to your own discretion.

New Zealand

Restaurants: Like Australia, New Zealand doesn’t have much of a tipping culture. Service and sales tax are almost always included in the bill. Tip only for exceptional service or when the menu states that service is not included.

Taxis: Tipping isn’t expected, but acknowledge great service by rounding up the fair or leaving behind a few small bills.

Hospitality: Ditto the above. Tips aren’t expected, but they’re a nice way to express appreciation for a job well done.

Spain

Restaurants: Locals generally leave small change or round up to the nearest euro, so go ahead and follow suit. If you receive great service or are dining at an upscale establishment, leave a 5-10% tip.

Taxis: Small change, rounding up to the nearest Euro, or a couple of extra Euros are all acceptable tips.

Hospitality: Pay the bag handler up to five Euros, the person who delivers room service 1-2 Euros, and housekeepers a few Euros for the stay.

South Africa

Restaurants: In nearly all establishments, it’s customary to leave a 10-15% tip for the waiter.

Taxis: Plan to tip cab drivers around 10%.

Hospitality: Tip bag handlers around $1 per bag. Tip other hotel staff at your own discretion.  

Thailand

Restaurants: Expectations here vary widely: Some sources advocate for not leaving a tip, others suggest leaving 10-15%, and still others suggest leaving $1 per diner. Keep it simple by sticking with 10% or $1 per person, whichever is more generous.  

Taxis: Tips aren’t encouraged, but a tip of 20 or 30 Baht is courteous.

Hospitality: It’s standard to tip bag handlers 20 Baht. While there’s no standard tip for housekeepers, it’s respectful to leave behind a tip (the size of which is up to you).

United Kingdom

Restaurants: If a service charge isn’t included in the bill, tip 10% (or higher for exceptional service).

Taxis: Tip 10-15% for black cabs and licensed minicabs, or just round up to the nearest Euro. Tip extra for help with loading or unloading baggage.

Hospitality: Most hotels include a service charge, but it’s still customary to offer small tips to bag handlers and housekeepers.

No matter where you are in the world, remember that servers, cab drivers, and hotel staff are performing a tough (and often thankless) job. Be both appreciative and thoughtful—try to tip in cash and in the local currency so your server can put the money to good use. And practice discretion when handing out tips, particularly in regions where tipping may be frowned upon. Respecting local customs will go a long way toward make any excursion a positive experience.

India-Photo-Set-2

Why Small Budget Travel Group Tours are Needed

Of course, tours are nothing new in the travel space — they are just normally reserved for those willing to pay the big bucks. We all know cost is one of the biggest barriers to traveling. Which is why I personally see a huge opportunity for small, budget travel tours for backpackers led by experienced travelers — tours like Wandering Earl is offering to India (which is sold out).

Earl has two huge things going for him:

  1. He’s spent a ton of time in India (and traveling in general with a count of 83 countries visited) – so he’s clearly qualified with experience
  2. A sizable audience of travelers

Both are requirements for a traveler to sell out space in a 10 person tour.

India is pretty high on my list of places to visit. Extremely high actually. I’ve traveled all over the globe, and generally love solo travel — but India is exactly the type of trip I’d rather embark on with a group rather than going it alone. I’ve heard you either love India, or completely hate it. There is no in between. I figure it’d be a guaranteed amazing experience with a small group that includes at least one person with fairly extensive experience navigating India.

I can tell you from my experience talking to travelers all over the globe, most who have not traveled extensively are scared to travel alone. Not finding travel mates is one of the biggest reasons (aside from cost) people don’t take the leap to travel, at least from those I’ve spoken with. I can also tell you from experience that, while most seasoned travelers really enjoy solo travel, every traveler always welcomes more travel buddies – and there are experienced travelers qualified and capable of leading a budget tour to just about any country on the planet.

Anything that helps knock down barriers to traveling is a plus in my mind, and small budget tours certainly fall in that bucket.

For the newbie travelers, is a small budget travel tour appealing? For the experienced traveler, is leading a tour at all interesting to you?

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterGoogle Plus

Holiday Inn Apparently Stands for Luxury in Ghana. No Joke.

After arriving in Accra from Nairobi, we paid $18 for a single budget hotel room a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport. However, we drove past Holiday Inn and learned that if you are a high roller, you could stay at the Holiday Inn for upwards of $350 a night; the most expensive hotel in Accra supposedly.

Seriously, WTF is that all about? I guess Holiday Inn being a luxury in Ghana is no different than McDonald’s being viewed as a luxury brand in Europe whereas in the United States it hovers near the very bottom of the luxury brand hierarchy just above WalMart.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterGoogle Plus

How Much Does it Cost to Backpack Santorini?

I’ve now been in Santorini for a good 3 months and I just put together an overview of what it costs to backpack Santorini!

For those who are headed to Santorini — or just curious — head over and take a look!

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterGoogle Plus

How Much Does it Cost to Backpack Crete?

As with most places, it’s fairly inexpensive if you want to do it on the cheap. Or it could be extremely expensive if you don’t need to do it cheaply and want to see all the island has to offer.

On a day to day basis:

  • We spent 1 night at Youth Hostel Rethymno for 11 Euro a night – we were in a 20 person room, with small & uncomfortable beds, and the whole place was filled with 14-16 years olds for the most part. If you’re a bit younger and wanting to go party every night, I’d recommend staying here — but otherwise, no.
  • We’re now paying 20 Euro per person a night for a nice 2 bed room about 10 blocks from the hostel (actually a better location than the hostel). The hostel is named “Seeblick” and I’d highly highly recommend it!
  • Meals cost in the 5-9 Euro range for a decent dish of either pasta, pizza, fish, salad, etc.
  • You can get to go food like a sandwich or panini for 3 Euro, which will fill you up for awhile
  • We didn’t rent a car while we were here, but we asked and it costs about 30 or 35 Euro a day for a car plus gas
  • A big water costs about .80 Euro
  • Mythos are between 2.50 and 4 Euro

We paid 30 Euro for a tour from Rethymno to the Samaria Gorge. And seriously, it was well worth it — you shouldn’t come to Crete and NOT hike through the gorge (unless you are super super broke).

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterGoogle Plus