Are you considering a USA holiday but just aren’t sure about what to expect, especially regarding their tipping regime? Well, since I’ve only just returned from there I reckon I may have a few tips that I can pass onto you. The first thing is to make sure you convert some of your currency into US dollars, ensuring that you have several of the smaller notes, especially one and five dollar notes. You’re going to need these as soon as you leave the airport to pay for your cab or shuttle fare to your hotel. I’m sure they take credit cards but I find it a lot easier to pay by cash. Oh, in case you’re wondering yes, you do have to tip the cab driver, usually between 15-18% of the fare. I found this strange but perhaps it’s necessary because they’re not very well paid and need it to supplement their poor wages.

Musso & Frank Grill was one of the first restaurants that we used a credit card to pay for the meal, which by the way was superb, as was the ambiance of the restaurant. Upon getting the bill I noticed there wasn’t anywhere to add the customary tip and I thought perhaps it wasn’t required so after checking the bill for errors I placed the credit card in the folder. It was promptly returned along with a copy of the bill but this time it had a spot where you add your tip gratuity.

OK, now I’m confused. Shouldn’t they have given me this copy in the first place? Mystified I queried the waiter but I reckon he had trouble with my accent, as did most Yanks, you’d be surprised how many blank stares we got whilst over there. So I filled in the gratuity section thinking he would take the credit card again. Nope, it seems they can add the tip with the original swipe. Seems to me that a shonky establishment pancakescould embellish the amount of the tip if they wanted to. Personally I would have preferred getting the second bill, the one with the gratuity, first rather than as an after thought. Apparently this seems to be the norm so be prepared.

I reckon my favourite breakfast was at the Twist Restaurant and Bar which is found at the Renaissance which meant we could charge it to our room. I found this the simplest way of paying for our meals and the bills had a place for the customary tip. My favourite breakfast for the trip had to be the pancakes that came complete with blueberries and bananas. It was delicious. Anna couldn’t finish hers but I managed to get all mine down.

HomaAnother thing we learned whilst in LA is that if you want to know what’s going on around you the only way to do it is to go on a tour and the one we settled for was Starline Tours although there was no lack of people trying to shove brochures at you as you walked down the street. We booked our first tour via a small lady named Homa who did try to book a second tour for the next day but we insisted on doing it when we were ready and promised we would come to see her so she could get the credit for our next tour. I don’t think she believed us and I must admit she looked shocked when I tapped her on the shoulder the next day. Did you know that Muhammed Ali does not have his star on  the sidewalk? Yep, he told them that he refused to be walked on and so he’s the only celebrity that has been placed on a wall. One of the many tidbits I picked up on the tour.Muhammad

When wanting to learn something it’s always a good idea to talk to the locals. Anna wanted to do some shopping and she heard that Macy’s at the Beverly Centre was a good place to go. As a taxi was an expensive option we asked the locals which bus to take to get there. It turns out that the 217 would take us to Fairfax and Third where we would take another bus to our destination. The cost of the trip was only $1.50 each and was as simple as feeding three dollar notes through the receptacle. On the way back I wanted to get rid of some coin so counted out $3 for the first leg of our return trip. I placed the whole lot into the coin receptacle which caused it to get jammed. “Sorry mate” I said to the bus driver, “Is there a trick to it?” “Sure” he says as he calmly tries to unjam the mess, “you put it in a lot slower.” So there’s another tip for you, place the coins in one at a time.

Speaking of coins, for the life of me I don’t understand why the Yanks still use one cent pieces. We got rid of them years ago and it’s a hell of a lot better not having to carry around all that spare change.

A couple of last tips before I go;

  • If you’re an Aussie and you feel you’re not being understood, try speaking a little slower and enunciating properly.
  • Don’t catch a cab during rush hour it will cost you a fortune. Better to sit and relax with a coffee or something.
  • No need to tip a bus driver or staff in a department store
  • Don’t freak out when cab drivers don’t stop at stop signs, they all seem to do it.

If you have any questions you know the drill, ask away in the comment section.

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