Friday, September 30, 2011

Ticky, Tacky, Tipping

This conversation comes up from time to time because there are some people who honestly have no idea how much to tip. I cringe whenever the tipping issue is discussed, because, while I pay close attention to where I spend my money, I am a good tipper. I compare going out to a nice dinner, to buying an expensive car; if you can't afford the maintenance of the expensive car, then you can't afford the car. Going out is essentially the same; if you can't afford to leave a decent tip (I describe decent as at least 18%-20%), then you probably shouldn't be going out to a nice place to eat.

Tipping is a very personal thing, but what some people fail to understand (or maybe they understand, but just don't care), is that the person doing the serving actually is working for that money - it's their job. I am, at least, a 20% tipper, and if it's really great service, it is significantly more.  I have been in heated debates with friends regarding the issues of poor service, etc, and what I always recommend is simple, "Don't go back." If you experience an anomaly of poor service at one of your favorite restaurants and want to continue frequenting the establishment, then I highly recommend speaking with the manager on duty. If you are a regular, they will want to know about your experience, and they will want to rectify it. I typically am not a person who complains about poor service; I figure me not going back again speaks for itself. There are literally hundreds of restaurants that would want my business, so complaining about a select few that are sub par is not worth my time nor energy. I'd rather just go to another establishment that acts like they want my business, by providing me with great service and atmosphere.

In the general scheme regarding the actual amount to tip, I have a few tactics that are easy to remember and make tipping a breeze:
  •  Double the tax amount
  • If it's just a drink, and the amount is less than $10, a dollar or two is fine
  • If you are not a mathematician, and you want to make things easy on yourself, roundup. If the amount is $74.69, roundup to $75 and leave a tip of at least 20%; which would be $15
Group tipping is always a nightmare, because you have the generous tippers who are surrounded by those who feel throwing a dollar or two down for a $50 meal is perfectly acceptable (which it's not - by the way). That's not to say that a person who buys a $12 salad should have to absorb the cost of their friends Filet Mignon and multiple cocktails, that's not fair either; personal accountability and common sense needs to prevail, so the person who eats and drinks $100 worth of food and beverages, should definitely tip the larger amount than their $12 salad eating friend.

In our current economy, we all are watching our pennies a little more closely, but when you treat yourself to a nice dinner, make sure you tip your waitstaff the appropriate amount, because they are just trying to make a living too.

Bon Appétit!

*photo of calculator from:; photos of cash:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Want to Get Away? Hit the Road!

Yes, I know. The last, fleeting moments of Summer are easing out of our system; being replaced by the beauty of Fall.

It is an antsy time of year for me, because the weather is still nice, and all I want to do is jump in the car and let my foot hit the pedal and cruise off someplace fun and exciting.

Road trips are cathartic and allow you to become one with yourself. It is a time to mentally begin  preparation for the (soon to arrive) holiday season. These are the last vestiges of sanity before we are catapulted into the pressure filled months of November, December and lest not forget, "Resolution January."

If there is one last personal trip you would like to take before the end of the year, I recommend you packing up a little overnight bag and hitting the road. Enjoy these last moments of Summer - any way you like!

*photo used from:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Part 23 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

Part 23 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

Misleading information seems to be par for the course in many industries. There are "teaser rates" in the credit card industry; unbelievable car deals at the car dealerships (which turns out to be one car at their deep discounted price); and the "out of this world" airfare rates. No wonder people are so confused when they are researching a product or service.

In relationship to the travel world, there are some things that truly are "too good to be true," and also in the realm of, "you get what you pay for." Some of the companies with discounted prices are not intentionally trying to be misleading, but in an ad, there is only so much space, so some information has to be left out; therefore, when a person on the East coast sees an ad for a deeply discounted flight to say, Hawaii, but then they call and find out the price is three times the ad price, it makes the person scratch their head and automatically think they are getting duped.

The reality is (using the aforementioned example), given the geographic location where someone lives, their flights to certain destinations may be more or less than someone else in another geographic area. Case in point, a person (typically) flying from the West coast, can oftentimes get a better price on a flight to Hawaii, than a person flying from farther away in the Midwest, or from the East. Just like you will see there are sometimes better (direct) flights from New York to London, than anywhere else in the country. The time of year you travel also plays a large part in pricing for certain destinations (Mexico in the Winter, Europe in the Summer), as well as just plain ole' "supply and demand." When you work with a travel professional, if there is flexibility within your travels, they are able to ask  the right questions that will assist them in making the best recommendations for you and your travel needs.

  • Help, I’m Lost!!!!!! - If you should get lost somewhere along the way your travel agent could be a good outlet for help. 
  • It just Makes Sense to Use a Travel Agent! 
  • They’re There… Use Them - Why do the work if someone else like a travel specialist can. 
  • Possibility of a Free Gift - Some travel agents offer free incentives. Who doesn’t like the possibility of free presents?
  • Even if the Internet Goes Down Your Trip Can Still Be Planned -Your travel agent is still getting your trip planned even if your internet at home or at the office is not working.
*Source: American Society of Travel Agents