Tipping can be one of the most confusing parts of a vacation. How much is not enough and how much is too much? A golden rule of tipping is that you reward good service and not feel suckered into rewarding bad service. Another golden rule is to remember that a dollar or two might not be a big deal to you, but to your server or maid, it could really make a difference to their family.
Pointers on Gratuity Around the World
At a restaurant plan to leave 15-20 percent (on the before-tax amount), 10-20 percent at a bar. In coffee shops or at cashier-service restaurants, flip some coins into the jar on the counter. With cab drivers, 10-20 percent of the fare is usual.
At hotels, a suitable tip for the valet is $5, bellmen $1-2 per bag, maids, $1-2 per day. If you’re ordering room service, find out if a tip is included in the cost of the room service. If it is, you don’t need to tip, but if not, then 15 percent is an acceptable amount. It’s not necessary to tip the concierge, but if you’re happy with the service then a small amount at the end of your stay is welcome.
In the US, tipping rates are slightly higher than in Canada – 20 percent at sit-down restaurants (25 percent for bigger groups), 20 percent on large bar tabs, $1 per drink, or $2 if your drink is one of those $15 martinis. At Starbucks or a cashier-service restaurant: $1 or pocket change in the tip jar on the counter. At take-out restaurants, gift the hostess between $2 and $5.
A good rule for cabs is $2 for a $5-ride, $3 for a $10-ride, and 20 percent for everything else. You get extra points for tipping cash when you pay by credit card.
At hotels, tip the valet $2-$5, bellmen, $5 for a bag or two, and more than $10 if he’s carrying an entire cart of your luggage. The maids should get $5-10 a night (depending on how expensive your hotel is). For hotel room service: 15-20 percent of the bill. Don’t forget the concierge – $5 for information, $10 for scoring your reservations or arrangements of any kind.
In restaurants, check the bill to see if a tip has already been included. If it hasn’t, tip 10-15 percent. At a bar $1-$2 per round of drinks, or 10 percent of the total if you’re running a tab.
In parts of Mexico, the local taxi-driver union is strong and fares are high, sometimes with a tip built-in. If your driver helps you with baggage or is especially helpful, a couple of dollars on top is welcome.
At hotels, tip the valet $1-$2 on top of the fee, bellmen $1-$2 per bag, maids $3-$5 per day, and the concierge between $5 and $10 if he or she arranges a tour or makes reservations for a must-see show.
If you’re taking a tour, tip the guide about 10 percent of the cost of the tour.
Lots of all-inclusive hotels and resorts in the Caribbean discourage tipping. As a general rule, the price of the accommodation will include tipping and service charges. However, all-inclusive can mean different things at different hotels. If you’re unsure what to tip, check with the concierge.
At sit-down restaurants, there will often be a gratuity – about 10 percent of the total – included in the final bill. For exceptional service, an extra tip can be given.
At bars: $1 per drink or 10-15 percent of the total bill.
When taking a cab tip $1 to $2 for in-town fares, but a little more for trips late at night, on holidays and on Sundays.
At hotels, valets should receive a couple of dollars as a tip, bellmen $1-$2 per bag and maids $2 per day.
Some parts of Asia – China, Japan, Singapore – do not have a tipping culture. Others do. Hospitality workers in Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok will all appreciate tips.
If your destination is Westernized, tip at Western standards. If you’re going local, just round up your bill to the nearest dollar.
Australia and New Zealand do not have a culture of tipping. Some parts of this region actively discourage tipping. These include Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu. However, if you receive service that you consider to be exemplary, a small tip is a wonderful way of showing your appreciation.
Tipping is standard practice in many parts of Africa. If you’re in South Africa, 10 per cent is standard but it would be considered generous in Morocco.
For game rangers, budget $10 per guest per day if in a shared vehicle, double that (at least) if you’re in a private vehicle. Trackers, butlers, and valets should receive $5 per guest per day and $5 per guest per day should go into the general staff fund.
Tipping is customary in the Middle East. Visitors will find that many countries in the region operate on a system of baksheesh. Have a roll of small bills ready to tip, everyone. In destinations such as Dubai, Israel, and Jordan, a service charge is included in the bill, but you are encouraged to tip the waiter on top of that. Be discreet with the tips. Work in the tip – a neatly folded bill – with your handshake.
Ten percent is standard in bars or restaurants. Check your bill before you tip. In Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, a service charge will be included in your bill, but add 10 percent for good service.
For porters, tip a dollar per bag, maids, a couple of dollars per night. For taxi drivers, round up the fare to the nearest dollar, more if you receive help with luggage.
Tipping a tour guide is a trickier business. If the tour guide is the owner of his or her business, don’t tip. If they are employees, tip at least 10 percent. Most tour guides are students with a lot of knowledge and passion for their subjects, and it’s a seasonal business.
Tipping is not expected in many European countries. Waiting staff are protected well by European Union regulations and receive decent pay rates and paid vacation time too.
In France, in restaurants, the service will be included. For exceptional service, tack on between 10 and 15 percent. If you’re having a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, leave the change. In the United Kingdom or Ireland, a service charge will be included in the service at hotels and restaurants, but if you are impressed with the service you’ve received, 10 percent is considered generous. Don’t tip in pubs in the UK or Ireland.
In Italy, Spain, Portugal, or Germany, tipping is not expected, but if the waiter was friendly, then a 10 percent tip left on the table will be a nice surprise.
Taxi drivers in London are highly trained. They have to pass a test called The Knowledge (320 routes in London including all the landmarks) before they can drive one of the iconic Black Cabs. As such, tipping a couple of extra pounds is expected. In other European capitals, Dublin, Berlin or Paris tip 10 percent.
In hotels, tip porters a euro or so (or whatever the local currency is) per bag. For maids, a couple of euros (or local currency) per day.
On Cruise Ships
Tipping while on a cruise can be a confusing issue. When you are doing your research, find out what your cruise line’s policy on tipping is. Will they add a flat fee per day to your onboard account or will they provide envelopes for you to distribute on your last evening? Some luxury cruise lines operate a no-tipping policy, building in the gratuity into the cost of the cruise.
If a flat fee is levied, it’s usually between $10 and $15 per day. Passengers can either leave it in their account or ask for it to be removed so that they can tip staffers directly. If you are tipping directly (for room service, at bars, or at spas) check to see if a tip has already been added to the bill. You don’t need to tip twice! If not, a decent rate is 15-20 percent, up to 25 percent for exceptional service.