Just Wanderlust Blog » A discerning, food-loving, & culturally curious road warrior seeks the world's beautiful and bizarre destinations.

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Travel Tip Tuesday: The Tipping Culture In The U.S.

This week’s travel tip is mostly aimed at foreigners visiting the U.S. who are likely confused as hell at our tipping culture and those of us in the U.S. who still have no idea how to tip (don’t make me name names).

Here’s what I have to say about tipping:  It’s annoying.  I live in the U.S. and I wish we’d get rid of the whole institution altogether, but because it’s so ingrained in our culture, we all just do it.  In theory, a tip should be left if the service was good (I mean, TIP is supposed to stand for “to insure promptness”!), but in reality, a lot of the people working in the service industry make the majority of their wages off of these tips so they, unfortunately, rely on them… which means, as a customer, you should are expected to tip them.  Personally, I’d much rather we do away with tips and just raise the prices on everything but that movement doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.

One guy at waitbutwhy.com actually felt so impassioned about tipping (he used to work in the service industry) that he’s pulled some stats together on the whole thing.  Like it or not, this is what the tipping spectrum looks like (i.e., these are the stereotypes that servers have of you as they size you up to see what kind of tips you’ll likely leave):


Tipping Spectrum

See all those foreigners getting a bad rap?  That’s probably because elsewhere in the world, no one tips as high as we do in the U.S.!  Or, that elsewhere in the world tips are genuinely only provided if the service was outstanding (what a concept!) and it’s never expected.

If you are visiting the U.S., however, you can find a lot of U.S. tipping guidelines online, but none that will quite paint the picture as well as the below tipping statistics chart does. Keep in mind the statistics were based off of a survey done in New York City, but I’d be surprised if it were that different across state lines.

tipping stats

Help me keep this series going!  If you have any travel tips, please email me at diana@justwanderlustblog.com and your tip may end up in a future post!

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