I came across this old thread and found many of the comments interesting. I wonder if the attitudes of community members have changed since this thread began. Have general economics influenced your gratuity habits and amounts when traveling?
Great topic to bring back to "currency" (pun intended).
We just stayed at an all-inclusive (3rd time there) that does include gratuities.
When we deem the service is above norm, we hand a few dollars to that person. Any time we had room service or special attention, We gave a little extra. Most of the staff have been observed pooling tips for distribution, but I can't help thinking that room service people kept it.
We travel a lot where gratuities are not expected, so we follow the custom there. I realize it's typical to expect Americans to tip (as opposed to other groups who are notoriously stingy by habit)
We saw alot of Europeans were stingiest in many countries outside the continent, whereas Americans and Australians were very generous in Asia (Japan is exception) and Africa.
I think it's relative to the service industry pay levels in different countries.
I don't feel like it's a personal economic issue, particularly among the well-traveled.
The conditions of the US economy have not influenced our gratuity habits. We are probably guilty of sometimes over tipping, especially if we are pleased with services rendered and if we are in an extended stay at a property.
However, much like the comments made by kyshel, we do try to observe general guidelines typical of the country or regions we are visiting.
We never attempt to engage in "out tipping" fellow travelers just because we are carrying US passports......on the contrary, we prefer not to 'stand out' in the crowd.
Also, as we mentioned previously in this thread, we still carry a cache of small gift items, chocolates and small toys for children we meet along the way.
One of the biggest rewards of random and reckless acts of kindness are the smiles from tiny faces you can carry forever.