Tipping Etiquette For Travellers

By Darci Murray

Tipping rules vary around the world by country, region and scenario.

It can be very confusing for travellers especially those of us from North America who are used to tipping fairly generously. Before you travel, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with customs and expectations in your destination country, including rules about tipping.

When you are travelling here is a guideline for tipping.

Restaurant Meals (between 5-15% of the bill depending on the type of restaurant and local custom)

Hotel Concierge (up to $30 per day for special services such as getting you difficult to get restaurant reservations or show tickets)

Hotel Porter (usually paid by the bag, a dollar or a euro or the local currency)

Hotel Housekeeper (paid by the day or at the end of your stay)

Tour Guides (usually a minimum of $20 per person per day)

Tour Drivers (usually paid from Tour Guide Tips)

Drivers (usually a minimum of $30 per person per day) – you can also take them to lunch!

Taxi’s (a percentage of the fare from 5-10% or a rounding up of the fare) Massages (a percentage of the bill – usually 5-10%).

In most countries around the world tipping is now expected. Asian countries generally do not have a culture of tipping but people who deal with North American guests have come to expect a tip. However, it is not required.

Tipping is also not part of the culture in the South Pacific except in high end restaurants, but due to Western influences many resorts now have a “Christmas-fund jar” where guests can donate a few dollars per day.

In Iceland, there is no tipping of any kind. Tips are usually built into the price that you pay at a restaurant. There is no tipping at all at hotels. This is also true for Scandinavia where the service charge is usually built into the bill. Even taxi drivers do not expect a tip. As Scandinavia is expensive it is good to know that you only pay the amount on your bill!

Things to be aware of when tipping:

1. Check that a service charge is not already included in the bill. This is common in restaurants. In France if you see service “compris” on your bill this means that no tip is required but usually people will leave a tip up to 10%. Even if a service charge is included on your bill you can always leave more if you have had exceptional service.

2. Unlike North America, European workers in restaurants and hospitality are paid a living wage and do not depend on tips, their jobs are professions and many are long time employees.

3. Although most countries accept US dollars, it is usually most convenient for locals if you tip them in the local currency. An exception to this is in Asian countries where they love to get American $2 bills!

4. Tip in cash unless you are in a high-end restaurant where it can be added to your bill.

5. If you are only having coffee it is acceptable to leave the change on the table.

6. In some countries, it is preferred if you tip discreetly, shake their hand and express your appreciation while handing a folded bill. Many prefer that you tip by giving cash in an envelope. For housekeepers make sure you leave an envelope with their name on it as some will not take cash unless it is specifically for them.

7. It is interesting to note that tipping originated in Great Britain at the end of the 16th century, and it has now spread across the globe. Great Britain has now gone the way of most of Europe by including a service charge in the bill especially in formal settings and tips are given very discreetly.

Remember, tipping is at your own discretion.

If you are not satisfied with the service then do not feel obliged to tip as you might at home,

the waiter will not follow you out into the street!