The bucket list tour is booked, your plane ticket is in hand, and the dream of going to America to ride Route 66 is happening. However there's one problem – tipping.
Why, when, and how much? Here's an easy guide to smooth over what you need to know.
Where to tip
Any personal service generally requires a tip. Restaurants, taxi drivers, hairdressers, tour guides, and anyone who's carried your bags, are probably expecting you to tip. There are some exceptions to this rule – petrol stations, grocery stores, rangers at National parks, and fast food places should not expect anything.
Keeping extra change in your pockets so you're prepared is always a good idea. And keep an eye on your bill when dining out to ensure gratuity hasn't already been charged.
How much should you tip
An easy rule of thumb to fall back on is 15-20 per cent on a pre-tax bill total. This tipping bracket generally applies to restaurants, hairdressers, taxi drivers, beauty sessions, and other similar services. When dining out, be aware that the more high end you go, the more you should expect to tip. But if you're enjoying relaxing at an American diner, it's all down to how much you appreciated the care and attention given.
Grabbing a couple of drinks at a bar? Think about a dollar or two per beverage, unless you have a bar tab. Then fall back on the rule of thumb. For pizza delivery, or a room clean while at a hotel, a couple of dollars can do. For someone carrying your bags, think a dollar per item.
Just remember, tipping should reflect the level of service. It's a way of thanking people, or of letting them know when you think they could have done better.
So why does tipping exist?
In America, tips are considered part of a wage and employees get taxed on them. The minimum hourly pay for tipped workers can be a lot lower than for those who do not receive tips.
So why is it on the customer to top up an employee's wage? In theory, tipping should lead to a higher standard of service. On top of that, as long as you avoid tourist trap eateries, food is cheaper as well.
However, maybe more importantly, it is part of the culture, and another flavour to add to your motorcycle tour along Route 66.
So enjoy the scenery, the road beneath your wheels, and relax knowing you now understand the basics of tipping.