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Travel | To Tip or Not To Tip?

Travel | To Tip or Not To Tip?

You just indulged in an exquisite meal in Paris, enjoyed a luxurious massage in Bali, had the most knowledgeable tour guide in Buenos Aires or experienced the best snorkeling excursion of your life in the Maldives. You couldn’t be happier. The question you’re asking yourself now is how do I show my gratuity in an acceptable manner? This can be tricky since tipping etiquette varies around the world not only by country but also by region and circumstances.

In a few countries tipping is not openly accepted. In other countries like the U.S. if you don’t tip you could have a furious waiter chasing you down the street demanding a tip. Yes, I’ve experienced this first-hand more than once in San Francisco! How can you keep track of the different customs? Hopefully the tips below will come in handy when you’re faced with this dilemma during your travels.

Do your destination research. Most travel guides will include information about tipping. Familiarize yourself with the tipping guidelines for various services including restaurants, bars, hotels, spas, taxis and tour guides. Tipping Tips is a great app we found thanks to Living Radically to help “tip like a local”.

Check to see if US dollars are acceptable as tips in your destination before you go. Sometimes it’s more difficult for local people to convert and it’s better to tip in their local currency.

Here are general tipping guidelines for some popular destinations outside the U.S.

Europe. A service charge is normally added to your bill in restaurants in Western Europe. If a service charge is included then leaving a small amount is fine.  If it isn’t included then leave 10 to 15 percent depending on the quality of service. For porters in hotels 1 to 2 euros is acceptable. Eastern Europe can vary so check your travel guide.

Asia. China and Japan are non-tipping cultures. In China if you desire to tip for good service do so discreetly and they most likely will accept it. In Japan your tip won’t be accepted. That has been my experience anyway. I’ve always found this interesting since this is where I’ve experienced the best service in the world. Tipping isn’t common in South Korea either although most hotel and restaurant staff will accept tips from tourists. In the rest of Asia 10 to 15 percent is customary.

Australia/New Zealand. Both countries follow western tipping guidelines of 10 to 15 percent today in the big cities. If you’re dining in a nice restaurant or staying in a four or five star hotel in Sydney or Melbourne tip 10 to 15 percent depending on service quality. However don’t feel pressure to tip in bars or taxis.

South/Central America. Service charge is usually included in restaurants however if it isn’t then 10 to 15 percent is customary. $1 for bags in hotels and 10 percent for other services is fine. Tipping isn’t expected in Peru and Brazil except in restaurants.

Africa. Tipping 10 to 15 percent is the norm. Keep in mind that in South Africa local currency is preferred over foreign currency.

Here is a great Infographic with more detailed information on tipping in various locations around the globe.

How do you remember what to tip when traveling? 

– Katy

Director of Luxury Travel, Katy Paterson, is living an ex-pat life in Singapore by way of Sydney. Spending the rest of 2012 globetrotting, Katy will be checking-in from her favorite spots in San Francisco, Boston, NYC, LA, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @Chamorro_Chica

Disclosure: On occasion, contributors of The Trend Tribe receive products, compensation and/or services gratis or at discounted rates. This practice does not influence the contributor’s point of view or the outcome of the review. All descriptions are factual and accurately reflect the reviewers experience. The opinions are their own.
Katy (19 Posts)

Katy is our Director of Luxury Travel and resident ex-patriot living abroad in Singapore. Having just walked down the aisle in Bali, and back from her honeymoon in the Maldives, she documents her super cool world travels and personal journeys at Chamorro Chica. @Chamorro_Chica


  1. Love the Lonely Planet books and app for this! We traveled all around Asia and it was different in every country and sometimes even among cities. I’m a compulsive over-tipper so having a break, like in Tokyo, was such a relief (my husband thought so too) 😉 Great article, thanks!

    • I agree about the Lonely Planet books Jenny! Definitely a great resource. I tend to be an over-tipper as well so I’ve had to adapt to the different tipping customs when traveling. Yes, it is a big relief when you don’t have to worry about tipping in places like Tokyo. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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