March 14, 2012

Tipping and Traveling

What’s up Friends?! I have a question today for you all about tipping & traveling... 
  Are you a good tipper? Are you good AT tipping?

Think these are the same question? They are not! A good tipper is generous and knows what to give in an obvious tipping environment…at say, a restaurant – this is me. {I worked as a server for a long time – so I know what’s on the other side of that 10 - 20% tip. {Here’s a good guide on tipping worldwide}

Someone good AT tipping can navigate the murky waters of padding pockets for extras in a ‘folded up bills in a handshake’ sort of way. Juliano is WAAAY better at this than me. There’s a certain subtlety and a mutual acknowledgment that the undercurrents of a friendly conversation are in fact, a business dealing. 

Consider these situations that we’ve run into:

Montreal, QC: The Concierge tip

We were staying in a nice hotel and want to go out for a swanky dinner. To the Michelin star rated Au Pied de Cochon. {Non-Frenchies, this translates as Pig Foot. I was skeptical but it was AMAZING.} We kept calling to make a reservation but [a] nobody ever answered the phone and [b] the message was all in French that we didn’t understand.

Enter the Concierge of our fine establishment:

Juliano: We’d looking to get a dinner reservation at Au Pied de Cochon, tonight – could you help us out?
Concierge: ah ha ha ha ha {this was in a French accent.} No.
Juliano: What? No? But I read all these reviews we really want to try it.
Concierge: That restaurant is so good that it books up months in advance. Would you like another recommendation?
Juliano: Not really, I wanted to eat there. And we’re leaving tomorrow.
Concierge: Mmm...Let me see what I can do. But you’ll never get a regular time. Does a 10:00pm dinner work?
Juliano: We can do 10.

A couple hours later he called us with a reservation for 9:30pm THAT NIGHT. Soo… do we tip? How much?  On the way out of the hotel for dinner, Mr.Smooth stops at the concierge desk and thanks him for the reservation with the ‘$10 handshake’. Concierge thanks us and we move on. Very James Bond.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The Street Parking Attendants

Driving in Brazil is craziness on its own… so I won’t get into that here. In places with ample street parking, you will often find some capitalistic gents on the street working as self-employed parking attendants. These guys usually appear out of nowhere as your parallel parking and help ‘guide’ you in. As you get out, they offer to ‘watch your car’ while you’re away. 
My friends: ALWAYS SAY YES.
It seems like a bit of scam, but it’s the lesser of two. They are offering to not steal your car. A yes and handshake is an agreement to tip upon your departure in your not-stolen car. A no is tantamount to walking home very angry, but with an extra R$2 in your pocket. When you get back to the car and it’s safely undamaged and parked where you left it – tip him directly. It’s the cheapest insurance policy you can buy.

Tipping varies so much cross culturally, but some people seem to have more of a knack for it than others...
What about you? Are you the James Bond of tipping - or do you travel with one? 
Do you think people who are good AT tipping get scammed less?


  1. Those are definitely more unique tipping situations. The car one though, yeah I would imagine you are right its better for the peace of mind, but its hard to get over the principle of the thing. But having a damaged car in a foreign country is going to be very difficult to deal with, so it helps alleviate some hassle.....sigh.

    1. Yep, turns out my principles are cheap! It does fall into the 'do as the locals do' category though, so sometime you just have to go with the flow... give your R$2 and keep on with it!

  2. We also got guys to mind our bikes in Montevideo and tipped them, its a tough one but generally safer to tip them. Thankfully I am in Asia now where tipping doesnt really happen much. Are you guys stil travelling? Where are you now? Jonny


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