"How much do you want to pay?'' the cab driver asked me, after I gave him US$60 cash (a $50 note and a $10 note) for a $55 fare.

"Huh? Um, $55? ...'' I said, seeing as how that was the price on the meter and all.

"Yeah, but how much do you want to paaaaay?'' he asked again.

"Ohhh, you mean with a tip. I dunno. How's 60 bucks? Is that okay?''


He'd driven me from my hotel in central Seattle to the airport. He was a nice bloke - from Somalia originally, he had close family living in Hamilton, so knew a little about New Zealand. He asked me about the Tron, I asked him about life in Seattle.

In last week's Travel magazine, Rod Pascoe wrote about tipping and how it sits uneasily with the Kiwi psyche. I'm with Rod. I never know how to tip. I'm often left feeling awkward (wondering if I gave enough) or feeling kind of robbed (wondering if I gave too much).

In the States, the people serving your food are so poorly paid they often can't get by without tips.

While the US federal minimum wage is US$7.25 an hour, waiting staff can legally be paid as little as $2.13 in some places. It seems churlish to deny them a buck or two.

The kids are OK

It ain't easy flying with children. Especially not the screaming variety.

An unscientific poll by latedeals.co.uk has found that 69 per cent of travellers think planes should have child-free zones.

The survey also showed that 35 per cent of air passengers would happily pay extra to travel on a no-children flight.


It could be win-win. When you are travelling with kids, it's generally something of a relief to find other passengers with kids seated around you - solidarity among parents and all that.