Would love an insight into tipping in various regions of the world. Traveling in July to Paris and Japan and October to London and Ireland. In your experience does it vary by country, culture, or continent? When traveling to Australia a few years back was surprised that tipping is not always customary and only recently was becoming more popular in cabs and restaurants, etc. Haven’t seen a travel blogger explore this topic in detail.
I’m not really an expert on tipping. Just because I know how to get around the world doesn’t make me an expert on its cultures.
I think I’ve gained some insights into the places I’ve visited, my life has certainly been enriched by my travels and I understand places better than if I hadn’t visited. But goodness knows that sometimes I probably get tipping in some sense ‘wrong.’
The only thing I do know for sure is that tipping is part of any good hotel upgrade strategy, at least in Las Vegas.
Outside of Japan, where tipping is historically an offense, you can pretty much tip in most countries, even where it’s contra the culture and traditions. When you do, folks just figure “you’re American.”
And you can pretty much get away with not tipping (except where tip is added to the bill, like in Italy in the form of “coperto”) since you’re unlikely to see the place again!
Where places add a “service charge” to the bill, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip, although if paying cash you can round up to the next major bill if you’d like. Don’t feel obligated to add something to a charge slip. One thing I do if I’m not sure the proper etiquette is to ask whether the service charge take care of the person serving me. If it does, I don’t need to add.
In general tipping isn’t customary in Asia. That’s a huge generalization and there are differences, but tipping isn’t the norm the way it is in the U.S. and you won’t find locals tipping — but at resorts tipping is VERY common because enough Americans travel throughout the region. If I don’t tip, though, the locals just assume I’m British.
Just because ‘tipping’ may not be a customary practice, doesn’t mean that bribes aren’t, many cultures that haven’t had tipping in their past do have a history of side payments for services.. not like getting your bags or bringing you your meal but if you want anything productive or ‘official’ done beyond what a tourist might encounter.
Wherever I go outside North America I’ll round up cabs, figure on 10%-ish at restaurants, and have small amounts ready for folks who help with baggage but not worry about it if they walk off not realizing I was ready to tip them.
And I don’t tip nearly as frequently as I might in New York. I’m not tipping the bellman on the way in and out of a hotel, I’m not tipping hailing a cab for me.
Somehow after traveling a good amount tipping feels right or wrong in a given situation, based in part on what I’ve heard or seen about a country’s practice but based mostly on watching the person that’s interacting with me. For instance, do they appear to be waiting around after dropping off my bags, or do they run off immediately?
There are certainly comprehensive lists of tipping etiquette on the internet but I’m not sure they’re right. I remember being 16 and visiting Australia, I apologized to a cab driver that I had only just enough cash to pay him but nothing for a tip. He had a good laugh at my expense I think, and explained to me that tipping a taxi driver wasn’t mandatory in Australia. On the other hand, I’ve had cabs Down Under size me up as an American and clearly expect to be tipped.
Sometimes it’s who you are (or appear to be) as much as where you are. And the stakes aren’t often as big as you think.
What are your tipping experiences, and what guidelines do you follow?