How Much to Tip When Travelling?

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Whenever I travel, how much to tip in the local country is one of the first things I research. I have no problem tipping, but I also won’t tip if it’s not a normal thing in that country or culture. The size of the tip and who you’re tipping also makes a huge difference as things can vary quite a bit from country to country.

I obviously won’t be able to cover every country, but this how much to tip when travelling guide will give you an idea of how much you should tip and who you should tip in different parts of the world.

How Much to Tip When Travelling

Hotel housekeeping tips

I have yet to visit a country where hotel housekeeping tips is not a standard practice. I personally don’t have a problem with this since they’re cleaning my room after all. The size of the tip depends on the country, but typically I leave the equivalent of $3-5 Canadian in the local currency. Sometimes I’ll leave a bit more if the room is exceptional or if I want something extra such as more water or extra toiletries.

How much to tip taxi

I don’t take taxis often, but when I do in Canada or the U.S. I typically leave a 10-15% tip which is pretty standard. Oddly enough, in many other places I’ve visited, most of the time, taxi drivers only expect you to leave the change (or they don’t even give you back the small change). A few major exceptions include Japan and China, but if they kept the small change, I wouldn’t put up a stink. I should also note that regardless of where you’re visiting, if you hire a driver (taxi or private) for the day, you should tip them 10-15%.

How much to tip in North America

In both Canada and the United States, a tip of 10-15% is pretty standard at restaurants. You should base that per cent on the pre-tax dollars and be sure to double check if there is a service charge. If there’s a service charge, then you don’t need to tip anything extra. Most bartenders expect a tip of $1 per drink. Most restaurants that offer food delivery typically add a service charge now, but adding a small tip on top for the driver is the norm.

Tipping in Asia

Let’s start with Japan where they have a no tipping culture. Seriously, it’s considered rude so don’t tip anyone. China and South Korea are also a no tipping culture but restaurants now expect a small tip 5-10% in major tourist areas such as Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul. A tip of 10% at restaurants in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Vietnam are typical, but if a service charge is added, there’s no need to tip anything extra.

How much to tip in Europe

Europe can vary quite a bit as some countries have a similar tipping culture to North America while others will either include a table or service charge to your bill. In Italy, tipping wasn’t really common but many people still leave 10% if the service was good. Cab drivers in the U.K. only expect you to round up to the nearest pound, but if you leave a small tip for drivers in other countries, they’ll greatly appreciate it. I should note that tipping bartenders in the U.K. is not common. If you’re at a bar in a different country, leave 1 Euro per drink. 

How much to tip in Mexico

Mexico has a similar tipping culture like North America with the exception of taxis where most people just round up to the closest peso. Despite the common belief that U.S. dollars are the preferred currency when tipping, the locals usually prefer pesos so they don’t have to worry about exchanging it. That being said, they’ll happily take American dollars especially at resort areas such as Cancun.

How much to tip in South America

Tipping in South America can be a bit complicated since customs change depending on the country you happen to be in. For example, Argentina doesn’t charge you service at restaurants so a 10% tip is expected. In Brazil and Chile, restaurants tend to add an 8-10% service charge so no additional tip is required. Most taxi drivers in South America only expect you to round up to the nearest dollar as the tip but in Argentina, 10% is the norm. Leaving bigger tips will often lead to better service or a room upgrade so keep that in mind. Regardless of what country you’re in, always tip in the local currency.

Tipping in the Middle East

Dubai, Jordan, and Israel all typically include a service charge at restaurants but it’s also common to leave a few extra dollars in the local currency. In Jordan, it’s common to hire a guide or private driver for tours so tip them 10%. You can see many of the sites in Israel on your own, but if you do hire a guide, a 10% tip is also expected. As you can imagine in Dubai, a small tip is also common for anyone working in the tourism or service industry.

Tipping in Africa

In Egypt, a service charge of 10-15% is typically included, but an additional tip is expected so you’ll actually end up paying 25 – 35% more than the price listed on the menu. Fortunately, food in Egypt is inexpensive to begin with so you won’t be paying astronomical prices. Many Egyptians rely on tips to make a living so don’t be surprised if many people you encounter ask you for a tip. I’m talking about everyone from the hotel doorman who hails you a cab to the local taking your picture at a temple. A 10-15% tip is expected in restaurants in other major countries in Africa such as Morocco and South Africa. Most other countries don’t expect a tip but a tip of even 5-10% can go a long way for the locals.

Final thoughts

If you’re light on cash, paying with your travel credit card shouldn’t be an issue (assuming where you’re paying takes credit). That said, at restaurants, the default prompt for a tip could be 15%, 18% and 20%. I’ve even been to a restaurant where the machine suggested I tip 23%. Those are just suggestions and you don’t need to choose them. You can simply set your own % or a fixed amount as the tip.

How Much to Tip When Travelling?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

11 Comments

  1. Wendy on July 8, 2019 at 9:33 AM

    Hi Barry

    I’ve asked about Tanzania at TripAdvisor to no avail

    How much to tip our guide on a Safari for a family of 4? Going for 9 days. And the cook?

    At restaurant?

    We leave July 26
    To tip in Shillings I guess

  2. David Selley on August 20, 2019 at 12:54 PM

    I must disagree on tipping in Europe. In many countries, a service charge will be on the bill and no tip is necessary. In France, this is invariably the case and the French people I know say they would never dream of leaving a tip. In the UK, where there is often no service charge, most locals tip 10% or less in a cafe or restaurant except for the most upscale places where they might go up to 10 or even 12. And in my experience the ONLY way to tip is in cash. In Germany, it varies. Mostly, no service charge is added and a 10 to 12% tip has to be paid in cash.

  3. David Selley on August 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM

    You don’t mention Australia and New Zealand, where tipping is mostly unnecessary in restaurants because staff are by law paid a living wage. An Australian friend was very upset with me because I paid a small tip to a Sydney taxi driver. He said “don’t ever do that!” One time in Dunedin New Zealand I ate in a restaurant on a Sunday and they put a 50% price increase on every item because by law they had to pay staff double time. Local people just took that as normal and it seemed reasonable to me. No tips were required or expected.

  4. David on August 20, 2019 at 1:17 PM

    So why are card machines in Canadian restaurants often set up to take 15,18 or 20% of the price (with tax)?

    • Tom on August 20, 2019 at 5:38 PM

      To hope you don’t bother manually entering a lower value.

      • David on August 20, 2019 at 6:04 PM

        at the 2 extremes, 10% of the pre-tax price is very different from 20% of the post-tax price – so I guess the article above does not reflect current practice/ expectations

  5. Coliin Elliott on August 20, 2019 at 8:10 PM

    David Selley is correct; absolutely no tipping in Australia/New Zealand. There isn’t even a category (line) for it on restaurant bills/checks. or on the debit/credit machines they hand you.

    In countries where I do tip, it is ALWAYS pre-tax amount that I calculate .I would never dream of tipping on an amount that includes identified and added on, taxes

  6. Ken Penton on August 21, 2019 at 4:14 PM

    Anyone have inside on tipping in Portugal

  7. Mary L McKeen on August 25, 2019 at 2:15 PM

    In Switzerland wait staff are also paid a living wage and tipping is not expected, except for a large group where 10% may be added.

  8. […] I just wanted to give you a reference point for your planning. One thing I should mention is that tipping in Dubai is not common. Most people will just leave the coins or 10 dirhams regardless of how much the meal […]

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