Tips on Tipping – Tipping Etiquette
Tipping etiquette changes from country to country; sometimes even city to city. When travelling, it can get very confusing which countries consider tipping customary and what size tip is deemed to be appropriate.
Although tipping is essentially a voluntary appreciation of the quality of service, it has become customary or even expected in some countries. While it may be positively frowned upon in other countries.
Factor Gratuity into Your Travel Budget
Before leaving home, visit the bank to let them know when and where you are travelling (for security - this is a commonly overlooked), and while there, ask for $50 in $5 and $1 bills, to keep handy for tipping.
Unsure of who to tip? A good rule of thumb is: “If they touch it, you tip it.”. Once you arrive at your destination, the bellmen will collect your bags to take up to your room. Once they have dropped all your bags off in your room, tip them $1-$2 per bag to show your gratitude. Any room service ordered, or extra pillows and blankets that have been brought up, the staff should also be tipped.
Where tipping is not expected, but still much appreciated, ask yourself these questions when tipping your service provider:
Are they relying on my tip for their livelihood?
Does my budget allow for it?
Is my tip fair and reasonable?
Was my service adequate, or exceptional?
Use the 15-20% scale to decide on the tip amount.
Tipping around the world
Tipping in the Americas
When travelling throughout North, Central and South America, it is customary to leave a gratuity for any service provider as their income relies heavily on tips they receive. As a general rule, between 15-20%, depending on the quality of service, is the expected tipping rate.
In some countries in South America, the tipping rate is slightly less; Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, between 10-15% gratuity is considered the norm. In Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica, most restaurants include a 10% sit-down fee and therefore tips are not expected. However, if the quality of service was particularly good, tips are still much appreciated; business transactions in Brazil, however, are very subtle, so be discreet when leaving a tip.
Tipping in Europe
The European Union already has laws in place to accommodate gratuity; therefore, leaving larger tips of 15-20% is unnecessary. Generally, most EU countries will add a service charge to the bill and tips are not expected. However, it is considered very generous to leave a small tip of 5-10% (or round the bill up) if you receive exceptional service.
Tipping in the Middle East & Parts of Africa
Like the Americas, it is considered customary to tip your server in the Middle East and Africa. A tip of 15-20% is expected and considered standard in countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the city of Dubai, a 10% service charge is added to the bill; 15-20% gratuity is also expected for the server’s efforts.
Service staff in African countries like Jordan, Morocco and South Africa expect between 10-15% gratuity. A service fee may also be charged when dining at finer restaurants in tourist destinations; for example, Egypt and Israel.
Tipping in East Asia & the South Pacific
Besides some tourist areas, most countries in East Asia and the South Pacific do not have much of a tipping culture. Gratuity is not expected, and even if offered a tip, may be turned down by your server.
Generally, tips are deemed unnecessary in places like China, Myanmar, Singapore and Taipei; except for a handful of trendy restaurants, who are starting to accept tips. Japan and Nepal have the strict belief that good service is merely a part of everyday living, and tips should only be awarded for exceptional service. While in Japan, don’t be surprised if your server politely refuses your tip.
Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and parts of Turkey, have become more open to receiving tips, due to an influx of tourism in those countries. Although, this doesn’t mean you’re obliged to leave tips; only if you feel the service provided deserves it. As for Australia and New Zealand, tips are not expected by servers or drivers, but rounding up the bill is always much appreciated.
When in Doubt…
If you’re unsure whether to tip and how much, ask your server if tipping is customary. If it feels inappropriate to ask, rounding up the bill to show your gratitude may be the easiest way to go.
And who knows, you might be making someone’s day!