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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): What is the deal with tipping in Europe!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What is the deal with tipping in Europe!

Europeans LOVE Americans when it comes to tipping!  If you are planning on coming over to Europe, here's how to blend in and do the tipping thing may surprise you.

I can mostly speak for Belgium and Germany, as I have lived in both places...the rest of Europe, I can only comment on as a visitor and observer:-)

Believe it or not, as a whole, Americans OVER-TIP on this side of the big pond!  FYI, if you are a European, please don't spam me....I am just being honest here....although bottom line, for extraordinary service, throw all guidelines out the window and tip away as you see fit, regardless of what country you are from!

On the flipside, why do American waiters and waitresses HATE serving Europeans?  Cause they tip poorly and in fact, sometimes leaving nothing extra on the, why is there a disconnect here?

I think to answer that, you have to understand that in Europe, being a waiter or waitress is actually considered a career.  Yes, you go to school and get certificates and degrees in waitressing....even salesmanship (working in a store, or in a bakery) and you can't just hang out a shingle and be a butcher, as an example.  There are strict guidelines and rules and people take their training seriously....very seriously for the most part!  I am not kidding!

AND, their salaries....yes, I said SALARIES reflect that.  Unlike in the US, where our waitstaff works BELOW minimum wage and is expected to live off their tips....the waitstaff in Europe is paid a salary they CAN survive on.  That's why sometimes you have to seriously take off your shirt and wave it to get the waiter's attention....they are not particularly concerned with serving you.....except for the ones who know you are American and hope you don't know about this tipping thing.  I have a few Italian waiter friends down in Italy, and they will fight over who serves the American.

In Germany, as an example, it is recommended to "round up" your bill.  My German grandfather used to "round down" believe it or not...but always got the evil eye, so please don't be like him.  For example, if the bill is 33,40 euro (so 33 euro and 40 cents), when you hand over the money, say 35 euro (although some Germans will say 34....but I like to go a euro higher...that's just me).  Or you can say "das stimmt"....which means, "that is so".  You usually don't leave the money on the table.

To see what a typical tip should consist of, check Rick Steve's guide which is spot on.  Also know who you tip.  Here in Belgium, my hairdresser looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to give her a 10 euro bill as a I just rounded up the cents.  You'd be hard pressed here also to give money to your hotel shuttle driver, as they don't hold out their hand for tips, and I've never seen anyone tip them.

Does anyone have any European tipping tales to share?



Blogger Catherine said...

It's basically the same here in Italy. The tip is included in the bill and there's no expectation of a tip. It also explains why eating out is such a lengthy experience. Since the wait staff are paid a 'real' wage, there's no reason to move through as many tipping customers as possible during a shift. I would, however, gladly tip for a few extra pieces of ice in my glass of Sprite. :)

January 27, 2011 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Good luck on the ice Catherine! I guess if the place is used to serving Americans, you'll find it...if not, good luck! I sometimes miss those really tall glasses of supersweet ice tea!

January 27, 2011 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous susanna said...

I have been in the US for such a long time (I am German) and tipping is still hard for me. I understand and fully tip "the American Way" - every Christmas though I get a bit frazzled about Christmas tipping - not to say annoyed.
That said, I get extremely embarrassed when we have visitors from Germany and I discover in the restaurant how little they have tipped. (LOL I usually run back to the restaurant and leave extra for them).

And yes, the service sometimes sucks in Germany. It all has its pros and cons, I guess.

January 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Luba said...

I almost forgot about this tipping thing about in Germany until I read your blog. I miss Germany so much!! By the way, your blogs are very informative and interesting! Keep up the good work!!

January 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh this is very interesting!! Here in South Korea, you DON'T tip. They find it insulting. LOL. But you do tip here in the "americanized" area's right outside the posts!

Husband and I are getting Germany next! April is when we'll be there!

January 28, 2011 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

So when we first got to Germany my best friend told me to always round up. She lives in Austria. We always did that. Just rounded up. But then I have heard from some people that is wrong and cheap? There seems to be some huge debate about it for some reason. Since I knew that they get paid a regular salary (unlike in the US) I didn't get why we would tip like they do in America.

My husband and I came to the conclusion that maybe restaurants near US bases expected more American type tips since Americans didn't really understand how they tip in Germany. Maybe that is why there is so much debate about it?

January 28, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Julie, I think you hit the nail right on the head! Plus, if you are already a good tipper by American standards, which is why it is SO HARD to walk away, hence my adding an extra Euro! I saw the same thing in Italy....waiters actually getting miffed at tourist spots that Americans frequent...I guess once they were getting it, they expected to keep getting it!

January 28, 2011 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger MooAtU2 said...

I'm showing this to my husband. He says we should tip 10%, and I say just round up to the nearest Euro, or add a Euro like you suggested. Thanks again for the info!

January 28, 2011 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Mira said...

hello! I havent been here for a long time! it's nice to see you're still up and running this blog. Well, as an European, I am used to European way of tipping. I kind of get annoyed in the states where you're seen as a cheap bi*** if you don't tip well. The way I see it is that I am paying for my meal and drink already and I should not be paying for the service. The business owner should take care of that. Just the way I am used to. But, I understand the rules are differnet so I always tip well in the states. In Europe, I round it up a euro or two.

January 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM  

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