Tipping the Driver

#1 Jan 10th, 2005, 20:41
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  • Sharonov is offline
#1
I've looked through related threads on tipping and can't find any guidance on this one, probably because most people posting to Indiamike are completely independent travelers who only do trains & busses. We've arranged a trip through an agency that includes pre-booked hotels plus a car and driver. I assume the driver is being paid by the agency, but of course we will also tip him. What would be a guideline as to how much we should tip him, assuming he's a good guy?
#2 Jan 10th, 2005, 21:14
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there's something called the driver's "batta". thats the money which the tourists pay him as his daily expenses. its generally about 200 rupees or thereabouts. thats all you need to pay him. most likely he will pay for all his expenses himself durng the trip and while settling the bill at the end, you wll have to give him his "total batta". if he does a real nice job, its not unusual to slip him a hundred rupee note or two, for a good job done. in fact, most "tourist car" travellers do that. thats the only "tips".

two things here... one whichever hotel you check into, do let the manager know first thing that there is a driver with you and some kind of sleeping arrangement needs to be made for him. most hotels do have such an arrangement and charge about 50 rupees. if you pay this 50 ruppes, then you could deduct the ammount from his "batta" money if you so want.

the other thing is regarding the sort of roadside restuarant or "dhaba", you stop your car at for lunch or dinner. when we were travelling in rajasthan and himachal, we usually stopped at a decent place to eat ourselves, while he would choose a smaller and cheaper dhaba. but somedays when we were in a hurry and 2 seperate food breaks were not a good idea, we insisted that he have his own meal along with us at the (comparitively) more expensve place. his bill was ofcourse paid by us, cos it would be very mean to insist that he pay at a place he wouldnt normally visit. also he never had to pay for any "tea" (and accompanying snacks) break.

which parts will you be travelling through?
#3 Jan 10th, 2005, 21:20
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#3
About 100 rupees per day if he'll be with you over the course of many days (spending his nights on the road) and assuming he's being paid through an agency. You can tip him all at once on the last day. If he's just driving you around for an afternoon, such as a city tour, then about Rs 50.
#4 Jan 13th, 2005, 20:37
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#4
We also had booked everything through a tour company who provided us with a driver for the trip. We apparently were tip happy and for the first week or so we were tipping our driver 400 rupees per day. I am not sure where we came up with this number but for one reason or another we thought this was the acceptable price. Nonetheless, after talking to some people we learned that we were definitely overtipping. To put it into perspective, a typical driver makes a monthly salary of around $75. We had paid him that much in eight days in tips. The following day we started tipping half that much.

Tipping was one of the more difficult things to figure out in India. I could never figure out what was appropriate and what wasn't. Although we had far overtipped our driver, I felt sort of comfortable doing so as I hoped it would give him incentive to keep us alive. I would have rather overtipped than under tipped and have him drive around angry at us. Trust me, you do not want an angry driver!
#5 Jan 13th, 2005, 20:49
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#5
a few months ago I was tipping 200-250 per day. that's what, $5 ??? It's what made ME happy, capiche?
#6 Jan 14th, 2005, 00:25
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by bijapuri a few months ago I was tipping 200-250 per day. that's what, $5 ??? It's what made ME happy, capiche?
Exactly! When I stayed with friends in India, there was a bottle of cognac for the host and a bunch of rupees for the servants. My presence added to their work load, so it seemed only fair.
I remember seeing a bumper sticker that said " Money is like manure. It doesn't do any good until you spread it around".

W22
#7 Jan 14th, 2005, 04:11
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#7
Sharonov,if you are hiring a car and driver through agency, you should not have to think twice about your driver's food or his accommodation. These details should not be your problem. Clarify that before you depart, so you can be comfortable. Assuming you don't have a rookie driver, he knows exactly where he wants to eat and sleep at each station. At least in our view, it is his responsibility to take care of you, not the other way around.
Reject violence.
#8 Jan 14th, 2005, 05:48
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#8

Tipping is/is not expected?

Hi Sharanov

Our tipping experience was that if a driver was very good (read safe) and knowledgeable, we would tip around 80-100 rupees per day. We thought the drivers earnt somewhere around 150-200 rupees per day (by asking people) so half of that amount, as a tip, is pretty generous.

Bengal Tiger's info is a excellent. It gives you some idea of the "process" if you want to hire a car and driver independently, as we may do in March, from Hampi to Goa.

Our driver, from Jaipur to Udaipur, stopped at a TERRIBLE chai joint 2 hours out of Jaipur & advised us to use the toilets which were similar to the ones in the movie Trainspotting and on a par with the worst we'd used on the road in Kenya! We advised him we required better facilities & would pay for his chai & biscuits or other food, accordingly. Communication is the key! Also establish if the driver will ask you for money along the way. We agreed to pay the driver advances, along the way (which was agreed to by us, prior). We then deducted the amount from the rupees we paid him, for the total hire.

Just be aware, the driver does not decide when & where you stop. You both do! Obviously you both decide when you have to use the toilet or he needs a chai or a break or you need some food or see something you want to stop for! If you don't like the rest places the driver takes you, tell him to find somewhere more suitable. And do not let him take you to his relative's shop! or allow anyone else to get in the car! This happened to us in Udaipur, with a driver from our hotel.

A good agency should have drivers who know where they are going and know where good food and rest stops, does not get lost all the time, he should know what sites/places are interesting and point them out to you en route, not drive too fast....I could go on. Make sure you have a good guidebook and a list of stuff you want to see! Have a great trip!
#9 Jan 15th, 2005, 21:58
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Since you have booked your tour through an agency the cost of driver is already included in it. You are not liable to pay anything to him for his food or stay. In the tourist routes the food most of the times is offered complementary to the taxi drivers and they get stay also in the hotels. But tipping is what depends on the services that the driver gives you during the tour. If he is very much as per your expectations and provides the best services you should tip him as that is a reward for the services. Something around Rs. 200 /- per day is a good amount for him.
#10 Feb 14th, 2005, 11:42
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#10
i over tipped, according to every post i've read here. it's ok though. by the end of my tour my driver was a friend. he was pleasant, personable and i would travel with him again. it was money well spent, in my book.
#11 Feb 15th, 2005, 19:01
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#11
Even after reading all the above posts (and thank you all for your replies!) we also overtipped I guess. That's OK. Our driver also became a friend, and when we got to his hometown of Jaipur we were invited to visit his family. He, his wife, two kids and Grandma live in two rooms: a small kitchen where his wife made us tea (of course) and a true "living" room containing a small bed where we sat, two plastic lawn chairs and a small TV on a shelf above the bed. He was quite proud of his house because it is his, and told us that soon he will be able to pay off his loan, which he obtained from family members rather than a bank as banks don't loan money to drivers very often.

We gave him 450 rupees per day for 27 days (ina lump at the end)and later wished we had given more.
#12 Feb 15th, 2005, 19:51
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#12

Please don't be so cheap

In my recent trip I had a few drivers. One of the 2 drivers I had in the south was a shy guy, but in the 2 and a half days he drove for me we became friends. His monthly salary was 1,000 rupees, plus 75 rupees per day for food and accomodation. That is why most of these guys get, and that is also why they choose to sleep inside the car. My friend's average total monthly income was 1,800 rupees. I digged more into this to learn that his rent was 1,000 rupees per month, and with the remaining 800 rupees he had to feed parents, wife and a new born baby. So my friends, please do some social justice when hiring a driver. If you are paying low the main reason is that the driver won't get much.

Worried about this, I run some basic calculations to learn that gas in India is extremely expensive and an Ambassador demands as much as 3 rupees per kilometer. Other cars may be more efficient, but probably not more than 20% better. So please also be aware that the car owner is not necessarily becoming millionaire at the expense of the driver. I believe the business margin is not more than 7-8 dollars per day, such a tiny figure for an investment above 10,000 dollars. Bear in mind that cars are not cheap in India. Not even Ambassadors, whose price I believe is around 500,000 rupees.

So the car owner has a marginal gain and the driver just manages to survive. The one owner? You. Remember, this only happens because India is a very poor country, unemployment is high and competition tough. Think about this before deciding how much to tip.

So my friend from Madurai got a tip of 1,200 rupees, which is.... yes, 25 dollars, a couple drinks in a bar in DC or almost a month of the driver's income. Again, you decide.

I also learned that other companies pay better to the drivers. These companies are of course more expensive and the drivers do speak good English. However, even in this scenario a five dollar tip per day would do some balancing between first and third world countries. We had a driver from a very good company for 10 days. With my girlfriend we decide to tip him with 3,000 rupees at the end. Even though I'm by no means a capitalist advocate, it's very nice to see such a happy face. And you know what? Not only he deserved it, but also bear in mind that it was just 70 dollars, 35 from each person for 10 days of work.

I hope this helps,
#13 Feb 15th, 2005, 20:29
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#13

The driver can make or break your journey......

You've probably left already Sharanov...but do tip the driver well for good service. I have learned (the hard way) about how to put out your best effort to have a good experience with the driver...the rest is left up to chance and karma.

As many on Indiamike have recommended...if you're in Jaipur, stay at Jas Vilas and let Mahendra be your connection to driver. He is a no nonsense business man, and only sets up his visitors with tried and true drivers. I met up with another traveller in Jaisalmer a few weeks ago, who also had a car arranged by Mahendra...she was unhappy because the driver picked up a tout and she was then shuffled around to shops she had no interest in (it was her first trip to India) She mentioned it to Mahendra later, and he told her he has taken the driver off the list.

We had a wonderful driver...lets face it, you're on the road with someone for, usually, quite a few days and its worth while to put some positive energy into the relationship! (excuse the calfornia talk....) We told our driver that if he was safe and helpful, we'd give him a tip at the end...which we did, 250 rps a day. As soon as it became apparent on the first day he was putting out some energy to take care of us, we also started to buy him his chai and snacks. We made a point of acknowledging his know-how and good nature.
#14 Feb 15th, 2005, 22:36
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#14
We did stay in JasVilas (thanks to this site) and it is truly a great place! However, we had arranged our driver through a travel agent, so did not need the owner's services.

Our total tip was 12,000 rupees for 26 days. I guess that's OK from what I've been reading.
#15 Feb 18th, 2005, 09:40
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#15

WOW what a tip!

Hi Sharonov-your driver must dream about customers like you! Very generous and if you can afford it, I guess-WHY NOT?
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