The first time I saw the words in the title of this post was on a whitewater rafting company shuttle bus probably in 1970.They were on a big sign above the windshield where all the passengers could not help but see it.At the time I imagine I thought it was funny. Forty years later I can see that the sign probably did not contribute to our rafters enjoyment of the trip. Whitewater rafting was a lot scarier in those days.
Did blatantly asking for tips assure our nervous charges that at least we expected them to survive? Perhaps they thought we were asking to be tipped before the trip just in case they did not make it—or as an incentive to rescue them instead of their companions after the big flip.
In any case, 40 years and tens of millions of rafter-days with very few accidents later, tipping continues to be one of the touchiest and anxiety causing topics in travel.
I was reminded of this on Tuesday when I read Jeri Clausing’s spot on (as John Mason would say) article called “The complicated etiquette
of tipping.” http://www.travelweekly.com/article_ektid211144.aspx
She begins by saying:
“One of the more stressful things about travel — after flying, of course — can often be insecurity about tipping.”
A little further down in the article she precisely defines the cause of the insecurity:
“There are no set rules… You don’t want to undertip, but you also don’t want to be the gauche American throwing money around like it’s candy and insulting workers who might be above the tipping chain, or in whose culture tipping is not expected.”
She quotes, Lisa Mirza Grotts, author of “A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette.”
“’Whenever a service is performed of any kind, we need to tip. You have got to have your dollars, your fives ready to go,’ she said, advising travelers to break a 20 or two at the front desk when they check in.”
She also mentions her husband’s crack about an ATM in every room.
It is probably 20 years ago that I first wrote advice to our guests on tipping. Every time I revisit I find it wanting.
Here are the first three paragraphs:
“There are more differences of opinion about tipping than just about any other topic in the travel industry. Should they be included or not? Should specific amounts be recommended to guests? So, by popular demand. . .we’ll see if we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
“Of course tipping is entirely up to you. Level of service, whether or not you feel comfortable giving tips, and your budget are all important factors. Personally, I love to tip (or not tip), depending on service. When I worked as a guide I loved to receive tips. I’ve tipped toll takers for giving me particularly careful, detailed directions. I’ve also left a penny in a full water glass after suffering through particularly surly service at a restaurant. I think of a tip as a statement.
“If you don’t believe in tipping, don’t feel obligated. Nobody should expect a tip. Regarding Costa Rica Expeditions and our own hotel personnel, if you believe in tipping and do not feel that one of our people deserves a tip, we’d very much appreciate hearing from you. We’d also appreciate hearing from you so that we can recognize extraordinary good work.” To read more http://www.costaricaexpeditions.com/MichaelKaye/tipping.php
My present take on tipping is that on a smaller scale it is like religion or politics: All well-intentioned views are valid. Perhaps the one thing we can agree on is that it would be better if tipping did not cause so much stress. Validating a wide range of views might be a means to that end. Please comment with your views. My aim is to help future travelers be less anxious about tipping by sending them a link to our conversation.
Here’s a start:
My good friend the late Pradjeep Sankhala, whose family still runs a leading tour operation and wildlife lodges in India used to argue quite convincingly that all tipping was a bad idea because it was inherently unfair. “Why should guides get the tips and not the gardeners and the maintenance people,” he asked me over dinner one freezing night in Chicago where we were both attending a travel show.
I did not have an answer, but when we got back to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning I tipped the man who was polishing the floor in the lobby.