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Dining with Americans and Canadians
Tipping correctly

U.S. currency in rolls. Tipping correctly means fold or roll the money you hand to people who serve you.

You never need to tip at fast food places such as Taco Bell.

However, in Canada and the United States, you are expected to tip after receiving service from wait staffs in regular restaurants.

Service charges in lieu of gratuities are nearly never added to bills in North America.

What to tip in restaurants

In Canada a 15 percent tip seems normal and in the U.S. tip 15 percent to 20 percent depending on the quality of service and calibre of the restaurant. Tipping 20 percent in more high-end restaurants in cities like New York City is probably typical.

Sometimes the service may be so outstanding, you may wish to tip 25 percent, especially if you expect to be a regular patron of that place. You need not tip at all if service is terrible.

At buffets and cafeterias, tipping is determined by whether or not you receive service at your table—for example, whether or not someone replenishes your drinks.

In these situations, you need not give more than 10 percent, unless the buffet or cafeteria attendant provides some special service. The servers in the queue, however, get nothing.

You need not tip at fast food (takeaway) places.

Round up

Do not tip coppers or pennies to anyone.

Always round up, e.g., $1.58 becomes $1.60 or $1.75 or sometimes even $2.00.

Morality of tipping

Marching band with Canadian flag in kilts.

Canadians tend to be more parsimonious when tipping.

"What's the difference between a canoe and a Canadian?" goes the bitter joke in the Hawaiian tourist trade. "The canoe tips."

Dr. Voyageur received a very reasoned and polite letter from a Canadian reader asking that he remove the canoe joke citing the high taxes in Canada and the weakness of the Canadian dollar, etc.

But, that is not the point.

Dr. Voyageur, a Canadian citizen, is not just picking on Canadians. His focus is on anyone who does not appropriately tip.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to travel the world—if you have the resources to be able to relax on beaches in Hawaii—you, regardless of your country of origin and its high taxes and weakness of its currency, should be able to find enough money to tip the lowly paid people who serve you.

The tipping system is not their fault. They depend on you.

Throughout North America and elsewhere in the world wait staffs need gratuities for a significant portion of their income.

Hotel and taxi tipping

Chic green themed luxe hotel room. Tip housekeepers more in this type of hotel because they have far more to do in these deluxe rooms.

Above: Tip more in a deluxe room because housekeepers have far more to do in these.

Hotel bellhops get $2.00 - 5.00 per bag, depending on how swank their joint is and how much they try to make us comfortable.

In "better" hotels leave the housekeeper $5.00 per day. I leave it everyday, instead of waiting until departure. Typical is to tip less at lower priced hotels, which seems unfair. However, a housekeeper in a 4-star hotel has more tasks to complete than one in a 2-star.

Hand $1.00 to the door person in Chicago, Montreal, New York City, or Toronto who hails you a cab. More if it is raining or snowing heavily and vacant taxis are hard to find.

Hand over the money folded in your palm. You do not want to make a spectacle of your generosity.

Taxi drivers receive usually around 10 but perhaps to 15 percent or sometimes more if the service is truly outstanding. Again we round up.

If you are staying at a very luxurious hotel or resort, one of the best in the world, or are dining in a super deluxe restaurant, the tipping guidelines here are too low.

Go to >> Eating "correctly"

Go to >> The next lesson: The best budget food in North America









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