Tipping Etiquette for Travellers – How Much to Tip in Europe, Asia and the Americas

Tipping customs vary from country to country. Here's a guide for the most common travel destinations

Credit: Flickr /kjelljoran

Tipping 10 to 15 per cent is expected in UK restaurants

Knowing when and how much to tip for services is pretty standard in North America. But do you know the protocol when travelling abroad?

It’s amazing how many different tipping customs there are worldwide. These tips will help you navigate the muddy waters of tipping rules in some of the most common international destinations. 

Tipping in Europe and the Americas

United Kingdom: The rules inthe UK are close to those in North America. Although products and services are generally more expensive in the UK, tipping won’t set you back quite as much. Offering about 10 to 15 per cent is polite and expected in restaurants unless you see a discretionary service charge of around 12 per cent on your bill. This means they’ve included it for you. Add 10 per cent for taxis and a few pounds for tour guides and porters.

Western Europe: Be aware that a lot of countries tack on the gratuity automatically. French law actually mandates that a 15 per cent service charge be included in all menu prices. That said, leaving excess change or rounding off the bill is commonplace. When it comes to taxis, and helpful porters at your hotel, a Euro or two is the norm.

Eastern Europe: Locals aren’t known to tip very often, so anything is much appreciated. A good rule of thumb is to estimate 10 per cent and then go down a bit. Play it safe and physically hand the tip directly to your server. Some cultures consider it inappropriate to leave money sitting on the table.

Central and South America: Many hotels and restaurants add a service charge to the bill, so like in Western Europe, an additional tip is unnecessary. If if a service charge is not automatically included, then 10 per cent is the general rule for restaurant service, and the equivalent of $1 per bag for a porter.

If you forget the rules and aren’t sure what to do – check in with the hotel concierge before you head out. A good rule of thumb: if the service was really great and you’re not in Asia, leaving around 10 per cent is more than enough. If it’s a valet or porter – a dollar, pound, Euro or two will be plenty to show your gratitude.

Tipping in Asia

Some good news for your travel budget if you’re heading to China, Japan, Thailand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Singapore – in these countries tipping is considered in poor taste.

Founder and president of Travel Best Bets, Claire Newell has appeared on The Today Show, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York, ABC Morning News – Chicago, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and CNN Radio, and is the official travel consultant for Global TV. She has been a spokesperson for Disney’s www.family.com, and featured in promotions for the Vancouver International Airport and the Canadian Tourism Commission. Newell has authored or been featured in articles for Success, Professional Woman, Today’s Parent, Readers Digest and for various newspapers. She is the best selling author of Travel Best Bests – An Insider’s Guide to Taking Your Best Trips, Ever and has just finished her second book.
This wife and mother of two has also launched two lines of luggage & travel accessories. Visit www.clairenewell.com for more information.