When it comes to budgeting for a trip, most of us forget to factor in things like tips for hotel staff, shuttle drivers, and bellhops. Worst still, tipping varies widely from country to country. And while everyone may have an opinion on the practice of tipping you shouldn’t punish the worker for societal norms.
To help you out, I’ve laid out some general tips on tipping and created a list of who you need to think about tipping. Read on to find out more.
Tips on Tipping
The minute you book a flight, no matter how far in advance it is, google “tipping in (insert your future destination)”. It doesn’t matter if you’re five months or five days away from departing take a screenshot – or email yourself – the search results.This small trick means you have it for your trip without having to recall it from the depths of your memory.
Because the ‘who to tip’ list is so long (see below) you should always find out, at the very least, how much to tip wait staff and taxi drivers. Almost every traveler will run into these two no matter the country.
If you do forget to look it up, say you’re out to dinner the first night, look around. Are people leaving money on the table? Do you hear anyone saying keep the change?
Whatever you do, don’t ask the waitstaff. Not only is it awkward, but because of certain cultural norms and manners, the employee may so no when in reality they rely heavily on tips to feed their family and pay rent.
Higher end restaurants in most countries around the world will add a service charge to your bill. Always look for one before you tip. Same applies to any restaurants in a distinctly tourist area.
Always carry a bit of local cash on you for unexpected tipping situations.
Don’t tip in US coins or bills, especially in rural (or poorer) areas. Locals here usually have no way to exchange currency.
When in doubt, tip. It is always going to be appreciated. And a couple dollars, while not much to you, may mean a world of difference to the local.
Who do you tip?
This list could go on and on, but here are the workers you may be expected to tip while traveling abroad:
- Taxi Drivers: When in doubt, round up.
- Shuttle or limo drivers
- Hotel Doorman: Usually not necessary, unless they helped you with bags or went above and beyond.
- Hotel Valet
- Bellhop: In most countries $1 per bag is greatly appreciated.
- Concierge: if they only gave you directions quickly don’t worry. But, if they acquired theater tickets or difficult restaurant reservations make sure you tip.
- Hotel Cleaning Staff: Staff changes daily so try to leave money each day.
- Room Service Attendant: Check the bill to see if service was added, if not, you should tip.
- Buffet Cooks: Generally, only if you see a tip jar
- Restroom Attendant: Try and throw at least a dollar into their tip jar, even if they only handed you a paper towel.
- Tour Guides
- Boat Captain and Crew
- Childcare attendant or Camp Counselor
- Hair Stylist
- Massage Therapist
What to tip in each country
This, of course, is the hardest part. Some countries, like Japan and China, it is considered rude to tip anyone. While other countries will have you handing out money left and right.
To help you navigate the tipping minefield I’ve created a comprehensive tipping guide. It features the top 50 most traveled to countries and what the general tipping practices are in each.
In my next article, I’ll give you some helpful hints when it comes to negotiating abroad. Especially for things like souvenirs.