Travel Tip Tuesday: Tipping

Tipping varies extensively among cultures. Though by definition a tip is never legally required, and its amount is at the discretion of the one being served, for travellers it can cause some serious dilemmas. In some circumstances failing to give an adequate tip when one is expected to is a serious faux pas, and may be considered very miserly, a violation of etiquette, or unethical. In some other cultures or situations, giving a tip is not expected and offering one would be considered at best odd and at worst condescending or demeaning. In some cultures it might be seen as a bribe, and in some circumstances (for example tipping government workers), tipping can even be illegal.

In the end, tipping is a way to show gratitude for good service. However, that value is completely at your discretion. To help you determine what is appropriate, we have chosen 10 countries with some tipping guidelines.

  1. United Kingdom

    • Restaurants: 10 – 15%
    • Hotels: Porters, 1 – 2 Pounds per bag; housekeepers, 1 – 2 Pounds. Go up to 5 Pounds apiece at the five-star hotels.
    • Guides: 20 Pounds per day.
    • Drivers: 15% or 10 pounds per day. You can also treat them to lunch.
  2. Germany

    • Restaurants: 10 – 15%
    • Hotels: 1 – 3 Euros per bag for the porter; 5 Euros per night for the housekeeper; 20 Euros for a helpful concierge.
    • Guides: 10 – 15 Euros per person per day.
    • Drivers: Round up the final bill.
  3. Iceland

    • Restaurants: A 15% tip is built in, and don’t leave more than 10% on top of that.
    • Hotels: There is simply no tipping of any sort.
    • Guides: About $20 a day.
    • Drivers: About $10 a day. Or, like the UK, you could treat them to lunch.
  4. Italy

    • Restaurants: 10%
    • Hotels: Porters, 5 Euros; housekeepers, 1 – 2 Euros per night, more for extra service.
    • Guides: Tipping gondoliers and vaporettos isn’t customary.
    • Drivers: 10 – 15%
  5. Spain

    • Restaurants: 10 – 15% is a good range to start. Historically, 7 – 10% was the range, but Americans were spoiling some waiter by giving upwards of 20%.
    • Hotels: 1 Euro per bag; 5 Euros per night for the housekeeper; 5 – 10 Euros for a helpful concierge.
    • Guides: 30 euros per person per day.
    • Drivers: 15 Euros per person per day. Or you can round up for Taxi Drivers.
  6. South Africa

    • Restaurants: 10 – 15% if no service charge.
    • Hotels: $1 per bag to the porter and per night to the housekeeper; $3 – $5 to the concierge.
    • Guides: $25 per person per day
    • Drivers: 10% for Taxi Drivers and $25 per person per day for Private Drivers.
  7. Japan

    • Restaurants: Waiters may decline your offer of a tip as tipping is perceived insulting.
    • Hotels: A room attendant at a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn – usually gets 5,000 yen for one or two nights – always in an envelope.
    • Guides: For a tour guide, offer 2,500 – 5,000 yen in an envelope.
    • Drivers: To tip a cab driver, round up for a very short ride. A private driver will usually expect to have you buy his lunch, around 2,000 to 2,500 yen.
  8. Canada

    • Restaurants: 15 – 20%
    • Hotels: $1 – $2 per bag for the porter; $5 per night for the housekeeper; $10 – $20 for a helpful concierge.
    • Guides: $10–$15 per person per day.
    • Drivers: 10 – 15%
  9. Mexico

    • Restaurants: 10 – 15%, cash preferred.
    • Hotels: 10 – 20 Pesos per bag for the porter; 20 – 50 Pesos per night for the housekeeper; minimum 100 Pesos for the concierge.
    • Guides: About 100 – 200 Pesos per full day per person for tours, 200 – 300 Pesos per day for combined driver-guide.
    • Drivers: 10 – 20 Pesos
  10. Costa Rica

    • Restaurants: Tip is included in the bill; anything additional is a pleasant surprise.
    • Hotels: 25 – 50 cents per bag to the porter, $1 per bag at a fine hotel; leave $1 a day for the housekeeper.
    • Guides: $5 – $10 per person for a full-day guide and/or driver.
    • Drivers: Tip cabbies a small amount if you have luggage; drivers get $2 – $4 for a long drive, $1 – $2 for a trip from the airport. 

These are just a few we have chosen to highlight here. Future blogs may continue the guide. However, in the meantime, here is a wonderful website that compares not just tipping in restaurants, but etiquette and attire of various countries. They even have that country’s translation for “Thank you”!

Pleasant travels!

[SOURCES: Condé Nast Traveler, WikiTravel, WanderBat]


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