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Your Guide To Tipping When Traveling Abroad

Posted by YMT Vacations on Feb 12, 2019 8:11:00 AM

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Escorted tours make visiting new countries easy and convenient. Your tour company will take care of booking everything from transportation, hotels, and meals. But there will likely be occasions where you go out with your new travel friends to have dinner or plan an excursion independently. During those times, tipping is a great way to show appreciation for the various services you experience abroad, but expectations differ across continents and may even differ among countries in the same region. We’ve compiled general guidelines on how to tip when traveling to various destinations:

United States – Tipping is a way of life for the hospitality and service industries in America. Workers are typically paid just dollars per hour and depend on tips. When dining out, expect to add at least 15 to 20 percent of your bill at standard restaurants. That number may be closer to 25 percent for fine dining establishments. Tip your bartender at least one dollar per drink when sitting at a bar. Add 10 to 20 percent on top of the meter fare when taking a taxi around town.

Canada – Tipping in Canada is similar to tipping the U.S. Expect to tip between 15 to 20 percent for many services. Additionally, $2 is standard for doormen at hotels, $2-$5 per bag for a bellman, and $2-$5 per day for room service at the end of your stay.

Mexico – Providing a gratuity is the best way to show appreciation for quality service. Using either US dollars or pesos is acceptable and the amount you tip is up to you. Tourists tend to tip between 10 to 20 percent at restaurants, one dollar per drink at a bar, and 15 to 20 percent of the cost of a spa treatment. While it is not customary to tip taxi drivers, $1-$2 is a nice gesture if they have provided great service. If your budget does not allow you to tip on the higher end, a smile and “gracias” goes a long way.

The Caribbean  -- Tipping differs across countries in the Caribbean. In fact, service charges may already come included so review your bill carefully before adding a tip. Expect to tip $1-$2 dollars per bag for bellhops, and about $2 per day for housekeeping. Leave between 10 to 15 percent for servers at restaurants, and $1-$2 per round of drinks for bartenders.

Europe – Another continent where tipping varies by country, look into specifics before embarking on your vacation because you may not need to tip at all! Generally, for countries that do expect tips, offer around ten percent at restaurants, $1-$2 Euros per bag for the bellhop, between five to ten percent for spa services, and about 10 percent of the metered charge for taxi drivers. Leaving a few Euros for housekeeping staff at the end of your stay is appreciated, but not expected in some countries.

Here are some specifics on a few European countries:

  • United Kingdom – Leave 10 to 15 percent at restaurants, ten percent of the metered fare to taxi drivers, and $2-$3 to hotel staff per bag, and the same for cleaning staff at your hotel.
  • Germany – Ten percent is the average amount when it comes to tipping for restaurants, tour guides, spa treatments, and taxi drivers. Two to three dollars per bag for bellhops, and the same for cleaning staff is standard.
  • Italy – Tipping is not expected at restaurants or for taxi drivers, however if the service was exceptional, feel free to round up on the final charge. One dollar per bag for bellhops and for cleaning staff is a nice gesture.
  • Spain – It is not customary to tip in Spain, but leaving a dollar or rounding up on your bill is enough to show your appreciation. Tipping a dollar or two for taxis, doormen, bellhops, and room service is generous.

South America – Cultural norms also vary within South America when it comes to gratuity. When dining out, tipping ten percent of the total bill is standard and should be left in cash even if you are paying with a credit card. Offer $1-$2 per bag for the bellboy, and $1-$2 dollars per day for cleaning staff. If you are taking an excursion with a local tour company, tip about $10 per person for half-day tours, and about $15 per person for a full-day activity.

Asia – This region can be complex because cultures and expectations differ widely. With growing tourism from Westerners, the norms relating to the hospitality industry are slowly changing. Typically a ten percent service charge may already be included on your bill in Singapore, but leave a few extra dollars if you wish to thank your server for going above and beyond. Tipping across mainland China is rare and even banned in some places. In Hong Kong and Macau, gratuities are not required at restaurants as a 10-15% service charge is likely to be included on your bill. When taking a taxi, tipping is also not expected. Japan’s tipping culture is non-existent and attempting to tip may be considered offensive. Service workers in the restaurant, transportation, and hospitality industries are known to exceed expectations out of pride rather than in hopes of earning tips. If you wish to tip a local guide, present your gift in a nice, sealed envelope or offer a souvenir from your home country.

Australia/New Zealand – Service workers in Australia and New Zealand are paid adequately, and do not rely on tips for a decent standard of living. Tipping is Australia is not required, but with many US tourists in the country a ten percent tip in restaurants is becoming the norm. Like many other places around the globe, tip bellhops $2 per piece in local currency for luggage and leave $2 per day at the end of your stay for cleaners. In New Zealand, locals only leave tips for outstanding service, and the amount given is based on their discretion. Ten percent of the bill is common at upscale restaurants, while leaving some change at other establishments is acceptable. If you wish to tip hotel staff, $1-$2 dollars of the local currency is acceptable for porters and cleaning staff.

If you are taking an escorted tour, your tour guide will be able to provide additional guidance in various situations.

Topics: Asia, Americas, Europe, Travel Tips, Australia, New Zealand