A Guide To Tipping Abroad

Jane Wardle

Written by Jane Wardle on February 4, 2019

Updated June 3, 2019


Travelling to new countries and exploring new cultures is exciting, and when you are jetting off on holiday to a new destination, you are about to experience a whole new way of doing things. Every country has their own cultures and etiquettes, and when it comes to tipping abroad, things can get a little confusing.

Depending on where you are in the world will depend on who, when and how much you should be leaving as a tip, and it is easy to find yourself in awkward situations if you aren’t up to scratch with the local customs.

Tipping often requires a little more than just generosity and spare change; it requires research and knowledge of your destination. This guide covers everything you need to know about tipping abroad, and some advice on tipping etiquette in popular destinations across the globe.

Who to tip when travelling abroad?

The people you should tip when travelling abroad will vary depending on where in the world you are, as will how much you should tip and how often. In general, there are a few types of people that you will come across on your trip that you may need to tip for their services:

  • Waiting staff
  • Hotel housekeepers
  • Porters and bellhops
  • Taxi drivers
  • Tour guides
  • Concierges
  • Bartenders
  • Maitre d’
  • Childcare staff
  • Beauticians
  • Hairdressers
  • Masseuse
  • Locals posing for photographs

The list seems lengthy, and it can be overwhelming thinking you need to have enough cash to tip all these people, but remember that you aren’t likely to come across all of these people on one single trip.

Tipping etiquette in popular destinations

Every country in the world has its own tipping customs, and what might be polite and the norm in one location could actually be an insult in another. It is vital that you brush up on the tipping etiquette for your holiday destination before you set off. Here are some of the tipping norms for a handful of popular holiday destinations:

  • Italy: Many restaurants in Italy will include ‘servizio’ (service charge) or ‘coperto’ (cover charge) on their bills automatically. There is no obligation to pay a tip on top of this, however, if it isn’t included it is common to round up to the nearest 5 or 10 euros. In bars, a service charge won’t be included, and tipping is at your own discretion, in tourist hot spots a small 1 or 2 euro tip is common. For taxis, you should round up to the nearest euro, and tour guide tipping isn’t expected but can be a nice gesture if the service is good.
  • France: Like with many countries, a service charge is included in most restaurants and in France it is generally 15%. It is not customary to tip bartenders in France, and the same goes for taxis, however many people do round up to the nearest Euro. In hotels, if a porter carries your bags to your room, you should tip 1 or 2 euros, and tour guides will also expect a similar tip.
  • Spain: Tipping is less common across Spain, and the attitude is slightly more relaxed than other countries. All tipping is discretionary and never required, but if you receive very good service in high-end restaurants, you should leave 5-10%. Tipping taxis, hotels and tour guides are not necessary for Spain.
  • Australia: Only recently has tipping become the norm in Australian restaurants, and around 10% of the bill is standard. Tipping bar staff, hotels, taxis and tour guides is at your own discretion but not required.
  • India: High-end restaurants will expect a 10% tip in addition to the 5-10% service charge that they will add. For more casual restaurants just 5-10% is enough, and bars don’t require tipping. Hotels will often add a service charge to your bill, but it is also customary to leave 100-200 Rupees to porters and cleaners. Tour guides are often tipped 100-300 Rupees per day, or less if it is a group tour.
  • USA: Tipping in the USA is an expected standard, and not tipping can cause offence. For restaurants in tourist spots leave a 20% tip, or more if the service has been very good. Make sure you are tipping based on the before tax bill total. If you’re outside of tourist areas and large cities, then between 15-20% is acceptable. In bars, you should tip 1 or 2 dollars per drink, and it is customary to leave this on the bar after you have paid. Most of the staff you encounter in a hotel will expect a tip, including bellhops (1 dollar per bag, or 5 dollars in five-star properties), door staff, valets, casino staff, room service, housekeepers, and spa staff. Taxis will expect 10-15% of the total fare, plus extra if they assist with bags, and tour guides will expect anywhere between three and ten dollars a day.
  • Japan: Contrary to the USA, in Japan it is customary not to tip anything, and many locals will be offended if you try. If you are visiting Japan, do not tip in restaurants, hotels or taxis.

When you are overseas, be sure to always have some cash and small change on you in the local currency, so you aren’t caught out if you end up in a situation where you need to leave a tip.

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