Up, up and away. Again.

In a little over a week, I’ll be in Las Vegas. It’s in Nevada, apparently. I’m not sure how this happened – like I’ve mentioned before, PNG did strange things to my brain and now I indulge in bizarre risk-taking behaviour, like sitting on a plane for 13 hours because someone* said hey Inga, wanna go to Vegas?

I’ve never been to the USA before, so I need some tips from my American bloggy friends. Specifically, tip tips. We don’t tip in Australia, and consequently the accepted convention is unfamiliar to me. Who do you tip? How much do you tip? If we’re buying drinks at a club, do you give the tip straight to the bar staff? Who gets the money in tip jars? And if the place is busy, how do they know if you put money in it or not? Do you tip bus drivers? Grocery store staff? Taxi drivers? I’M SO CONFUSED. 

We’re renting a convertible for a couple of days and driving out to Arizona to see that big hole in the ground, which is going to be another learning experience altogether. Trying to find our way out of Vegas on the right (ie. wrong) side of the road is going to be borderline suicidal, but we’re going to mount a video camera onto the dashboard and salvage some amusement out of the experience. I’ll be sure to post the resultant histrionics here.

Any hints or information from the natives will be gratefully received. Sorry in advance, America, we’re gonna raise hell. In an accent no one can understand.

 

*Nikki. It’s always bloody Nikki.

 

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44 thoughts on “Up, up and away. Again.

      • I realise I wasn’t very helpful – but see that everyone else has contributed solid advice. I over-tip anyone who will know where I live. If you have your hair done remember to tip the person washing your hair as well as the stylist. A lot of hotels provide an envelope for the maid’s tips. Check your bill in restaurants as some will have “gratuity included” . If you use valet parking for your rental car tip the guy who runs to get it. Tip anyone who carries anything for you.

        Have fun!

  1. Oh, you guys will LOVE Vegas!
    Hubby and I go there every year. In September when it’s still hot enough to laze around the pool all day.
    Let me think about tips. We leave 20% for waitpeople at meals. 20% for cab drivers. Throw a couple of dollars in the jar on a bus.
    I guess that I leave 20% for barstaff, too.
    And we leave $5 a day in the room for the maids. We give a couple of dollars to the guys who hail the cabs at the cab stands. A couple of bucks to the guys/gals who drive the shuttles at the airports and sling our luggage on and off for us. That’s all I can think of right now.

    No tipping in grocery stores.

    You will have a BLAST!

    • Oh man, I didn’t even think of the maids! Do you just leave it on a table? Do you leave a note? And with drivers and that…do you just give them money? Is there a jar or something? I know it’s a stupid question, but I seriously have no idea how it works! Make your annual trip a bit earlier and be our ground support!

      • We leave the 5 dollar bill on the table under the tv remote. That says pretty clearly that it’s for them! And with drivers and luggage handlers, yes, just hand it to them. They work hard and really appreciate it. I used to be shy about doing it, but I really enjoy it, now.

        I wish we could be out there when you are!!! It would be a million laughs! 😀

        • I think I’m gonna feel awkward the first few times, but I can see it turning into a good excuse to flirt with cute service people. There’s going to a LOT of flirting.

          • You can always pefect the art of disguising the hand-over of the folding stuff as a handshake if you prefer to be discrete. Or, er, “extended” flirting… 😀

  2. OMG! That will be a blast, Inga. And you earned it by trying to survive in the depths of PNG. Although Vegas will be like, the opposite of educational and enlightening. But you’ll be happy as a clam.

    Although why aren’t you coming out to the East Coast? I WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU!!

    *Ahem. Back to the matter…..you absolutely must watch the episode of Seinfeld on tipping. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. He tips a server and she doesn’t see him. Well, I won’t give it away. I’ll try to find you the link.

    But yeah, tipping is a bit of a pain and actually a huge controversy these days. And it will vary wildly across the country. Here in Expensiveville it’s considered standard to tip an outrageous 20-25% and not just when the server does an excellent job. It’s sort of stupid.

    One way you can be guaranteed to be acknowledged for the tip is to emphasize your accent and to say, “I’m from Australia and I wasn’t sure of the etiquette – do I hand you the tip or put it in a jar?” That way they’ll know you tipped them and they will love you.

    • Fear not, this is only my recon mission into the US – there are heaps of other places I want to go, so there’ll be another trip for sure (unless I have an awful time in Vegas, though that’s doubtful). We can run around your lake! 🙂

      25%?! Jaysus. I have my overexaggerated Strayan accent all ready to go for when I piss off people with my driving 🙂 Good idea to play the ‘tourist’ card…I guess everyone that works in Vegas is used to clueless international visitors anyway.

  3. My daughter is just back from six weeks in the USA and being a natural born worrier worrying about the whole tipping thing almost pushed her over the edge before she’d even left. She went from LA to NY (including Vegas) and I think she went in a helicopter over the hole in the ground – maybe it was a balloon.

    • The other day I was wondering where you disappeared to, and I’ve just popped over to your blog and realised my reader hasn’t been picking up your posts. FFS. Anyway.

      I’ve had a few people tell me that flying over it is the way to go, but we wanted to do the whole Thelma and Louise driving through the desert in a mustang thing, and we can’t really afford to do both.

  4. I’ve visited the US a lot. Everyone says, “I just love your accent! What part of Australia are you from…?” when they hear an English accent so I wouldn’t be surprised if the locals all think you’re from ye olde Englandshire. Everyone in America seems to think that the UK, GB and England are the same and interchangeable. It really winds up the Scots. Which is a good thing… 😀 Have fun and try not to lose your shirt on the Black Jack tables.

    • Yes! On the US navy base in Japan they thought we were English. Admittedly I’m terrible at accents too – I can’t differentiate between Scottish and Irish unless they’re both present and I can compare them. And everyone from Europe/Scandinavia – no way.

  5. Yeah, generally 20% at restaurants and bars. You can just add it to the credit card total or pay separately in cash. If it’s a coffee shop or the like with a tip jar on the counter, drop a single in there. Don’t worry about them seeing you do it. THEY KNOW. The money is counted out and divided evenly between staff at the end of a shift.

    If I’m picking up takeout from a restaurant, and not sitting down or using their dishes, then I’ll tip less than 20%. However, do tip a pizza delivery guy well. Those poor dudes have SUCK jobs.

    I rarely stay in hotels, so I don’t know about tips for the maids, but $5 a day sounds reasonable. $5 for taxi drivers. $5 for the dude who hauls all your luggage around for you.

    There are assholes in this country who don’t *believe* in tipping, for their own stupid reasons. So if you accidentally fail to tip someone, you might tick them off, but you’ll never see these people again, so who cares? You’ll do fine. If you try tip someone who isn’t allowed to accept them, they will just tell you, but at least you’ll make points for trying. 🙂

    • I feel like I need to print out all these comments and carry them with me.

      I’m not sure how someone could not believe in tipping people who earn $2 an hour. How the hell can you live on that? Ridiculous. Our minimum wage is about $16/hr…so I ignore the tip jars some cafes have started putting out.

  6. It’s always wise to tip well in places you think you might frequent again before you leave for home – otherwise you might find more than just a stray hair in your soup the second time around! 😀

  7. Sorry Inga, I forgot stupid WordPress posts the whole video not just the link.

    I believe in the U.K. (correct me if I’m wrong) tipping is for exceptional service only. It used to be that way at some point in the U.S. too, or at least in New Hampshire. We always left a tip at restaurants but it sure as hell wasn’t 25%.

    The one thing I keep in mind is servers in restaurants are among the extremely few exceptions to the minimum wage law. They make something like $2 per hour. So they live on tips – but some nights they can make way more than the average worker so it evens out. But for those of us who like to have breakfast out, it becomes unaffordable. And really, why am I tipping everyone else for mediocre service?

    I do hope you get out to the East coast, and that goes for GOF too wherever he is these days. You’d love it, and yes tell that grump he would too love winter here. It’s what makes this place special. Well, the seacoast is pretty wicked too with the North Atlantic waves and body surfing.

    You’ll love jogging at the lake!!

    • GOF can barely sit on a plane for 3 hours to come and visit me – he usually schedules a stopover in Sydney so he can stretch his legs after 2 hours. I’m quite sure someone would end up dead if I put him on a plane for 13 hours! Count me in though, even in winter! 😀

      How on earth is there an exception to a minimum wage ruling? Bizarre. And it’s such a shitty job, too. Now I’m just going to be throwing money at the poor buggers.

    • Tipping in the UK is more of a choice thing. You can leave some change on the table or if you feel you’ve had an enjoyable time made moreso by the staff then you can be more generous and start waving paper money about. My old dear waffles on about 10% being a good guide but then she just leaves a couple of pound coins on the saucer that the bill gets presented on. Taxis are more a “Keep the change, mate” thing – so if it’s £9.99 on the meter and you hand over a tenner then you might not be thought well of! Assuming you give two hoots what a random taxiist thinks of you. Of course, there’s the scam in my industry whereby you wink at the driver and offer £25 for a £20 fare in exchange for a blank receipt – which then becomes £30 – £35 by the time it gets stapled to your expenses form. Probably why petrol costs so bloody much! 😀

  8. My cousin and I kept begging our guides, drivers, etc. in India to tell us what we should tip because we really didn’t want to short them. They would just smile and say “As you wish.”
    But, in India, tipping is even more important than in the US. and they wouldn’t tell us if we were doing it right!

  9. All of the people above forgot one important thing – and knowing you, it will no doubt come in handy.

    Male strippers accept tips too … I think you can figure out how to “hand” it to them …

    Have fun … and while you’re there have your picture taken in front of the fake Statue of Liberty and the fake Eiffel Tower and all those other things so you can claim to have been on a world tour.

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