Being a Canadian, I am used to tipping for just about everything service related.
As I travel the world, I noticed I continued my tipping habits across the world…. to the pleasant surprise and joy of every person who happens to serve me.
I would meet people around the world who get super confused about tipping. Are we supposed to tip for this cab ride? How much is the standard amount? Is it okay if I don’t tip? etc.
This tipping guide will help you make smart tipping decisions when you travel, whether your backpacking around Europe, or visiting Asia for the first time.
How To Tip In North America
Growing up in North America, we tip a lot. Anything in the service industry basically accepts tips (with the exception of branded stores like H&M, etc.)
We tip taxi drivers, restaurant servers, bell hops, tour guides, doorman, housekeeping staff, and the list goes on and on.
Here’s a really handy infographic from Fodors that outlines who you can tip in North America and roughly how much you should tip:
The nice thing about being in North America is that you can tip whatever amount you want. If the service provided was bad, then don’t tip. If it was outstanding, then tip more. If you are broke and can’t really afford to tip, then stick to the standard tipping amount and only tip in places where tips are (basically) expected. I’m talking restaurants, taxi’s, and maybe your bartender.
General Tipping Tips:
You don’t need to tip for everything. I hardly ever tip the hotel concierge, the doorman, or the coat check person.
Don’t feel embarrassed to not tip of the service is bad. Growing up in Canada, it’s very customary to tip. It’s virtually expected. I used to be a restaurant waiter and it would be rare to get a table who didn’t tip. But if you get bad service then don’t tip. It’s as simple as that. They don’t deserve it.
Tipping for things that don’t normally take tips is “okay” too. Nobody will think you’re rude or out of line. They can gladly accept or decline. But they will be happy that you felt they were so great that you wanted to give them a little extra money to show your appreciation.
Tipping can make all the difference in your experience. If you have a driver who’s going to be taking you around all day, tip at the beginning, and tip generously. He/she will be your eyes and ears for the duration of your tour, and what more incentive do they need than giving you the best experience they can (since you already showed them some love). The same thing goes for your housekeeper. She will keep your room extra clean, make sure everything is stocked, and even give you a nice warm smile when she see’s you come in and out of your room.
Some places, like restaurants, charge automatic gratuities that will appear on your bill for large parties. Be aware of these charges and don’t over tip because you didn’t know it was already there. If you want to tip more you definitely can.
How To Tip Around The World
Having travelling around Asia, Europe, and Central America, I noticed one thing that was present in every single country.
EVERYONE appreciates tips. In very very rare circumstances will they turn it away. Even in places where tipping isn’t really customary, they will gladly take it. It makes sense though. Who wants to refuse extra income?
The problem with traveling around the world is that every country has a different tipping practice. For example, it is “considered rude” to tip in certain countries, like Japan or China. I think that’s a load of shit and dumb. I’ll note that I’ve never been to those countries yet, but let’s get real. I’ve been to other Asian countries where tipping isn’t a normal practice, and they LOVE it when I hand them extra money.
They appreciate it MORE because they aren’t used to getting it. And let’s get real just one more time…. people in the service industry in these countries CLEARLY know your a tourist from another country. If you “tip” them, they aren’t oblivious to the fact you are likely accosted to doing it and are simply being polite and appreciative. Are you really going to get someone mad at you for tipping where it’s not normal practice? I’ve NEVER experienced that before. And I highly doubt you will either.
The only real problem you have is “how much” you should tip in each country. Because, some countries you’ll want to tip 15-20%, and other countries 10% is plenty.
I don’t have a chart that gives you guidelines for each country, because that would be super long, but here’s some general guidelines.
General Tipping Guidelines For Worldwide Travel:
The the more first world the area, the more you should tip (I’m talking around 15% for restaurants)
2nd and 3rd world places, like Asia and South America, 10% is usually fantastic.
If you want to be more precise with your tipping, TALK TO YOUR HOTEL/HOSTEL STAFF. They are there to help you enjoy your stay. Simply ask them if tipping is normal here, and how much you should tip. They will tell you all you need. DONE! Get comfortable with asking locals about everything.
Not everyone tips, and you don’t either if the service was bad. Trust me, don’t feel guilty. They don’t deserve your money.
For tour guides an drivers, they basically take tips no matter where you are in the world. Especially tour guides. They live off tips. With tour guides, you can tip however much you want. They sometimes will give you a guideline, like saying the average person tips $10. Do as you please.
Service industry people are used to not being tipped from people all over the world. People come from all over the world, and some of these people come from places where tipping isn’t normal practice. They bring this background with them when they travel, and service industry people experience this all the time. So if you happen to not tip, for whatever reason, don’t let it bug you.
I like to tip whenever I can. Especially in poorer countries, I like to help out. Just that little dollar or two makes a big difference. Some of these people make 40 cents an hour. Some of them completely rely on tips to put food on their plates.
I used to tip always, no matter how poor or normal the service is. I changed that after working in the service industry and seeing how some people really just don’t deserve to get tipped because their service is shit. And I take this with me everywhere I go. I’m not afraid to offer money to those who went above and beyond, especially in areas where they don’t normally take tips.
It’s virtually always welcomed with a warm smile of appreciation. So try it!
Do you have a tipping tip for me? Leave it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about it.