Tipping While Traveling

Tipping. It’s a controversial topic, and one that has a different answer depending on the type of mood someone’s in and what the minimum wage is. A lot of people don’t like to tip and even more end up tipping, and then grumbling about it later. Having patrons of an establishment pay an employee is not the proper way to ensure that the staff get paid better for their job – it’s up to the employer, and doing so will not fix the problem. But, this is a topic for a much angrier and drunker time. Tipping someone for a job well done is rarely answered with an argument. Regardless on their feelings, most people want to tip those it is customary to, and you never want to be that asshole who just doesn’t tip – especially if your wait-staff has been excellent. Tipping at home can be confusing at the best of times; add in a different country, different etiquette and standards and the best of travelers will be feeling overwhelmed in no time at all. In Japan you may be refused your tip; in Thailand the tipping is much smaller than most places; and if you tip real large in France (even if you were given the most entertaining and attentive waiter) you’ll see them freak out. That being said, there is no specific way to tip, and for those who are on a strict-budget vacation, tipping can push your budget over the edge. Keep in mind the tipping guidelines and etiquette to follow in each country; staying within a few dollars of these loose guidelines will keep everyone happy.

Hotels
No tipping required: China; French Polynesia; Japan

Room Service: As I’m writing this I’m waiting for my room service to arrive. I’m in a moderately swanky hotel and ordering a moderately expensive breakfast. There is, however, a room service charge fee on my bill. My first thought was that I wouldn’t have to tip. But, then, my mind got the better of me and came up with ‘what if the person doing all the work doesn’t receive anything from this fee’. So, I decided to do a little googling (which also prompted this article) and a little inner-thinking to find the answer. If there is a service charge or gratuity, then tipping is null – unless you’re one of those psychos who loves to throw money out the window. But, then, there’s that niggling guilt that I need to hand anyone who brings me anything, or does anything for me, money. Will he/she be offended? Will I actually care? I’m leaving today, so it is not needed in order to receive excellent and speedy service. The short of it is that if there is a room service charge fee or a gratuity fee, then tipping is not needed. If there is no fee, or if you’ve asked for special requests or are in a comprising situation when they arrive, then definitely give a tip. Tipping $2 – $5 is adequate for someone bringing you a quick bite to eat.

Bell man: $2 – $5 is sufficient in nearly every part of the world. This tipping exchange is always awkward, and unless you’re conveniently organized, you’ll end up fumbling for money far too long and the poor sap will end up walking away. I hate to admit it, but I’ve routinely forgotten to tip the bell man – especially when storing luggage.

Maid Service: For those who have stayed in resorts before, you know that tipping your maid service every day (whether a few bucks a day, or a large sum right up front with a few bucks peppered in) can go a long way. But, doing the same for maid service back home is often ignored. Although you may not be in a far-off destination, you’re still receiving the same type of services. Do the same as you would when in a resort or abroad, leaving the money in an envelope on the bed. Make sure that it’s easily recognized as a tip for them and not just your own money lying around. Some may not take it as they don’t want to be seen as a thief, and others just may not take it.

Concierge: Their job is to assist you and help make your trip better, so tipping is not usually required, but if you’re asking for complicated requests or reservations, make sure you tip them adequately. $5 – $20 bucks should do it.

tippingRestaurants
Service Charge Added (add on a little extra after, if you’d like): Austria; France; Brazil – there is a service charge, yes, but their pay is so paltry that tipping well is always appreciated; Germany; Italy.
No Tipping Required: China; French Polynesia; Japan

All around the world, restaurant tipping is pretty standard (unless you’re visiting any of the above countries) and using the 10-20% guideline will get you through pretty much any tough situation. Go up in price the swankier the restaurant or feel the steely wrath of the entire staff. The 10% has all but snuck its way out of the service industry as an option for tipping in North America, but there are still a few countries where 10% is still acceptable and anything higher than 20% is outrageous. Also, where did you find that money tree of yours, and can I have one?

Transportation
No tipping required: Argentina; Australia; China; French Polynesia; Japan

Valet/Airport Shuttle: 2 bucks a person (or per bag/more if your bags are as heavy as mine always are) should suffice.

Taxi: The standard 10 – 15% is fine.

Ubers: Yeah. Ubers. No one seems to know what to do here. The tip/service charge was supposedly already calculated in the fare. But, now you can (and are encouraged to) tip your uber driver. Your rate may take a hit if you don’t, which is frustrating for those who just don’t know whether or not you should tip. If you’re questioning on whether or not to tip someone, just do it. But, you don’t have to leave all your dollars on the table.  A buck or few is enough and a tipping option is now available.

backpack

Tours
Put your money in an envelope if you’re in Japan – also a good idea to adhere to for any country
Your tour guide will have already budgeted in money to tip the bus driver, or will ask for some at the end of the trip. However, tipping your guide is still a thing. Sticking to the 10-20% rule, you can tip your tour guide 10-20% of the tour price, per person for a long tour. $5-10 per person for half day tours and $10 – 20 per person for full days…I’m sure a bunch of you are feeling guilty for not doing this on your last tour, as I know I am.

Stick to the basics when abroad, and if you’re ever questioning on whether or not you should be tipping, just do so. Everyone will feel better at the end of the day, and if it’s not the correct etiquette in a certain country, it’s always better to have offered than to have not. Traveling the world and unsure of the far-flung countries? This great etiquette guide can help you through any country you’re thinking of visiting.

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