15
June
2012

Traveling Tips – Should Tourists Tip in Italy?

Recently I was asked this question and thought I’d share it with my readers here on the blog..

Italy: Should tourists tip in Italy?

Tipping is not expected in Italy although they kinda do from Americans as we seem to do it all the time from habit not for exceptional service. When you do tip in Italy it is lower than the USA because they do get paid a wage that is not dependent on tips. I would check the bill in a restaurant. Sometimes you will find a service fee. That usually goes to the restaurant not the waiter. But ask so you don’t double tip. My tipping is always dependent upon the service that I receive. If it is excellent or someone goes out of their way to be friendly and helpful I tip more. I found that in Italy a 5-10% tip is a good tip.

Italy tip guide for excellent service:

Restaurant/Room Service: 5-10%

Taxi: Tip 5-10%

Bellman 1-2€

Tour guide: 5-10%

Room maid: 1-2€ per night

Someone who gives you help or directions: 1-5€

Street performers: 1-5€

Museums, non-profit site: 1-3€

Churches, Religious sites: As God directs your heart

Again this guide is if you feel you have received excellent service or you just want to contribute to that site or person’s personal economy.

I love to give tips to people who don’t expect it or rarely get them. We were driving in Spain recently and got lost. We asked a guy on a scooter where to find our hotel. He said follow him. We were cautious but hopeful. We followed him and he took us directly to the Parking Garage of the hotel. This to me is exceptional service. We gave him a 5€ tip. He was really grateful as well.

Another fun time was we went to the grocery store. It wasn’t their custom to take your groceries out to the car. I had more bags than I could carry and one of the girls offered to help me to the car with them. I gave her a 3€ tip. At first she refused. When I said I wanted her to have it she just beamed. That felt good. I tip people who help me when they don’t have to or they go above and beyond what they have to. It is kind of fun too.

Street performers always tug at my heart. I love anyone who uses their talent. I don’t think we honor talent enough in my opinion. There just aren’t enough paying jobs for people who love their art. Even small tips are really appreciated. I personally usually do 1-5€ depending on the performance or again my heart. One of my favorites was we were waiting at the train station at Pompeii. It was a long wait. As we sat there a guy came up and started playing his accordion and singing a romantic song for us. It made a special memory for us from Italy. He played for 10- 15 mins. while we waited for the train. Of course we gave him a generous tip – 10€. A good memory for us and for him.

One more that I always do. It is more of a donation than a tip but I think it is important. When visiting churches and religious sites if they have a tip or donation box I always leave whatever my heart tells me. I know that seems a little ambiguous but God will tell you what he needs. Similarly museums and other non-profit sites if they have a donation box I will leave 1-3€ depending on how I feel at the time.

Tipping in my opinion should be something that you want to give because you feel that someone has done something worthwhile for you whatever and whenever that is.

09
April
2012

List of 12 More All-Inclusive Resort Vacation Travel Tips

Knowing ahead of time what to expect at an all inclusive resort will make your stay more fun and you will be able to do more. There is so much to do that going prepared is essential especially if it is your first vacation of this sort. This is the third in a series of all-inclusive resort vacation travel tips articles.

  1. If you are irritated by loud noise, music, or snoring bring a pair of ear plugs. Some of the shows, the disco and even noises from outside your room may be a little loud.
  2. Most resorts are quick to solve a problem if you inform the front desk or if they don’t contact your booking company representative and they will aid you in getting help.
  3. Bring a duffel bag or beach bag to carry your towel, books, suntan lotion, etc to the beach.
  4. Bargain with the vendors and store personnel when shopping for souvenirs if it is the custom for the country that you travel to and if you don’t bargain you will over pay. Even companies selling tours will make a deal.
  5. When you land you may be greeted by timeshare people offering you all kinds of incentives especially in Cancun. Unless you really want to attend a 3 hour (they say 90 min.) presentation and give up part of your vacation and get caught up in the sales pitch walk right past them.
  6. Your information should tell you where to meet your transfer representative. If not they will either be where you come out of immigration/customs, in the luggage area or just outside the doors by ground transportation.
  7. Bring some dollar bills or small bill denominations in the currency of that country if they don’t take dollars for tipping tour guides and buying small items. No tipping at the all inclusive resort.
  8. At many of the locations that have all inclusive resorts they also have topless sunbathing. Don’t be shocked if there are topless women on the beach or around the pool. If you are offended by this or don’t want your children encountering it book into a resort that doesn’t allow it or has specific areas so that you can avoid it.
  9. Large spread out resorts will usually have some sort of transportation to shuttle you around the resort.
  10. If the resort is part of a chain of resorts and they have several hotels in the area check and see if you are allowed to use the amenities at the other sister resort hotels as well as you own. They may even have a shuttle.
  11. Most resorts have an area that has computers that are connected to the internet but most charge a separate fee for using the internet. Some of the resorts will have wireless internet.
  12. Join the contests and competitions; they usually give prizes or points toward prizes. If you win one see if they have a time before, during or after the evening entertainment where they present them to you.
06
April
2012

Another 10 All-Inclusive Resort Vacation Travel Tips

All-Inclusive resorts are my one of my favorite getaways. In an earlier post I talked about the reasons why. If you decide to take an all inclusive resort vacation the following tips will make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Here are another 10 all-inclusive resort vacation travel tips.

  1. Pack nice clothes for dressing up for dinner or the disco at night. Some theme restaurants do enforce a dress code.
  2. Decide on tours before you arrive at the resort so that you get to do everything you want. Remember there is a lot to do at the resort. You may not want to leave. You can book tours at the resort or online before you go with a local tour company.
  1. Bring books, an  iPod, eReader, iPad, puzzles, magazines, handwork, etc to do while waiting for shows to start, sitting at the beach, or sitting in the airport.
  2. Bring a camera with a bag to keep the sand out. An underwater camera is fun if you are going snorkeling or scuba diving.
  3. Bring a T-shirt to wear to keep your shoulders from getting burnt while you’re walking on the beach.
  4. Watch your skin in the sun in a new place to see how easily you will burn. You will usually get burned before you can see or feel that you have been in the sun too long.
  5. An umbrella is a treasure for the occasional downpour, or sun screen.
  6. Bring a jacket for cool evenings.
  7. Take Tylenol, cold medicine, Pepto Bismol, sunscreen and bug spray; remember the airline size rules.
  8. Package you medications in your carry-on bag. Don’t let all the fun make you forget to take it.
05
April
2012

A Video Camera Small Enough to Fit in Your Pocket

A small camera with lots of extras and resolution equal to the task of taking great videos. Easy to hook up to computer with built in USB. Carry extra SD cards with you because it has an SD slot. It even has a microphone jack. The Kodak Zi8 is a great choice for taking your videos.

Capture your memories in video with the Kodak Zi8 Camera (text link) Kodak Zi8 Pocket HD Digital Video Camcorder, Black

02
April
2012

10 All-Inclusive Resort Vacation Travel Tips

A cruise on land is my description of an all-inclusive resort vacation. It is my favorite getaway. Everything is included even the drinks. Do you ever spend time on your vacation saying, “Where do you want to eat?” “How much can we spend?” and wondering if you have enough money to really enjoy the food you would like to have.  There won’t be any skipping meals trying to save money or staying in your room because of the cost of activities; everything is included. Unless you decide to take a day tour away from the resort you will have paid for everything in advance and know exactly what your trip will cost.

Even though the most widely accepted definition of an “all-inclusive resort is when all your meals, snacks, drinks and non-motorized sports are included with your vacation package make sure to check the packages that you look at so that you know what is included in the quote that you receive. Packages can even include the airfare, transfers, taxes and gratuities. Ask if it includes airfare, transfers, resort stay, tips, food, drinks, sports, activities, and entertainment? Other questions to ask if these are important to you; is it on the beach, is there free internet access, a gym, more than one swimming pool, several theme restaurants to choose from, adult’s only rules, and are there programs for children?

Following these travel tips will help you enjoy your trip to the fullest. Planning ahead with these 10 all-inclusive resort tips will make your trip to an all-inclusive resort more enjoyable.

  1. After checking into the resort find out where to make reservations for the specialty restaurants as they fill up almost immediately. The number of evenings you can book a specialty restaurant are usually limited to 1 restaurant choice for every 3 night you stay.
  2. Pre-sign up for the kids “club” or “camp.” If you can’t do it ahead of time do it as soon as you can when you get there and get a copy of the schedule.
  3. Review the resort map and familiarize yourself with where the various parts are and where different activities are held.
  4. If you are not given a list there is an activities/game/entertainment schedule posted on the activities and games board. Make a note of when and where the ones that you are interested in are taking place. Some activities you need to go early and sign up if required. Most sporting activities need to be signed up for. Reservations for using the canoes, sail boats, snorkeling equipment, ping pong tournaments, etc. fill up quickly.
  5. One option if it is expensive to use your cell phones there is to take Walkie Talkies with you so that you can find each other easily if you separate or want to do separate activities.
  6. Time slips away so take a watch so you know what time it is. There won’t be many clocks around. Co-ordinate your activities so that you can meet up after separate activities or get to your spouse’s activity in time to cheer for them.
  7. There are so many food choices that you may want to walk around the buffet and see all the food choices before you start piling your plate. You will eat less and eat the things are you favorites.
  8. Take your towel or sandals and reserve your chair on the beach early in the day. Go to the outer edges of the seating area to find seats when they all appear to be taken.
  9. If drinks are included (usually are) enjoy but not so much that you are sick or lose control. It can be tempting when you don’t pay for them.
  10. If you love snorkeling bring your own snorkels & fins in case they limit the amount of time you can have them checked out.