On the Road Again– Tipping with Loons and Bears oh my!

LooniesToday I parked at a Park and Fly lot. As I climbed into the shuttle van I glanced at the cup in the front of the van obviously intended for tips and paused. I can afford to give someone a tip, and I believe in tipping someone for good service. If only I good figure out a reasonable measure of who I should tip and how much.

Obviously you tip a waiter or bartender unless the service is downright abysmal. In general I’ll tip 15-20% most of the time in restaurants. There is nothing awkward about tipping a waiter, they hand you the bill, quietly walk away so you can choose how much to give them as a tip. I find it a bit more awkward with a doorman when you have to politely place a dollar bill or two into his hand.

The Americans may have a reputation for being less polite than Canadians, but they also have a reputation for being better tippers. When I travel in the US, by virtue of hanging around with my American friends, I have adopted the habit of keeping a few $1 bills in my wallet to hand as needed to a doorman who hails me a cab, or for a maid who stops by my room to clean up the glass deodorant container I knocked over that broke on the bathroom floor. I would happily do the same when I return home in Canada. But here’s my problem: loonies and toonies. It’s one thing to hand the doorman a dollar bill, but somehow a coin, even a coin worth a dollar or two dollars feels cheap. Our smallest bill is $5 but am I really going to give a $5 bill to a guy for blowing a whistle and asking a taxi to pull up to the curb or for picking up my suitcase putting it in a van and driving me in his shuttle bus to the terminal.

With maid service I can always leave a larger bill at the end of my stay. That doesn’t work so well with my Park and Fly driver who is different every time I have a flight, or the doorman who calls me a cab.

I love loonies and toonies. When I think I am broke, I can find enough change in my purse to buy lunch or pay for parking. But is handing a doorman a loonie or toonie a thank you or an insult? Maybe I should keep the cool Olympic loonies on hand so I can help them complete their Olympic coin collection, or make sure I hand out the anniversary Montreal Canadians loonie when I travel in Quebec. Or maybe I should just take advantage of the countries that still have bills for lower denominations, anyone know the exchange rate for a Kenyan dollar?

To finish up, my top 5 odd or awkward tipping situations, maybe I really am a scrooge.

  1. The hairdresser when the machine where I swipe my credit card doesn’t give me the option of adding the tip myself.  What am I supposed to do when I have no cash and they’ve already entered the amount?
  2. The person who washes your hair at the salon, I once had one blatantly hinting at tips, do I really have to tip the shampoo person as well as the stylist? Doesn’t the stylist share tips with the hair washer?
  3. Bag check at hotels, do I tip the guy who takes my bag or the guy who brings it back, or both?
  4. Sometimes I wish I could tip certain airline staff, there are some who really do go above and beyond with a smile, those people make a difference in my day!
  5. The food court tip jar beside the cashier, especially when you pick up the food and drinks yourself and just walk to the cash to pay.  I am really expected to tip you for taking a slice of pizza and putting it into a cardboard box for me?

5 responses to this post.

  1. 2 – Not that I’ve ever had that experience, but I’ve read you’re supposed to tip them both separately.
    3 – I do both, and $1 per bag.
    4 – Agreed completely!
    5 – Not one bit.


  2. I agree with everything that Chris said (no I do not have to tip the hair washer…but my wife says she does), except I never tip less than $2, except for a free drink in an airline club, when a single is my standard tip. Of course that still does not help you with your coins and causes me to always carry a lot of singles when I travel.


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