Carl Deane, along with his sister, Anne Deane, are frequent travelers who enjoy contributing to online blogs about different locations, traveling and packing tips, and how to get the most out of your time and money spent traveling. In this article, contributions by both Anne and Carl Deane discuss tipping when traveling, who you should tip and when, what’s expected (or not) and if you should utilize local currency or the USD.
The pandemic may have temporarily halted many people’s travel dreams but according to NPR, people are traveling more than ever thanks to “revenge travel.” This concept is described as people doing a lot of different trips to make up for time and experiences lost during the pandemic says Anne Deane.
Whether it’s a vacation that got pushed back thanks to COVID-19 or a trip just to finally get away, there is essential information to keep in mind before heading out, namely who and when to trip while traveling abroad. This article by Anne and Carl Deane is from a North American perspective.
Central and South America
Anne Deane says that tipping in Central and South America is often a given and should be included for restaurants and any car services used (e.g. taxis). Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru all have acceptable tip rates at 10-15%, with Columbia being higher and on par with the United States at 15-20%.
In Brazil, Costa Rica, and Chile, tipping isn’t necessary, but 5-10% in cash is always appreciated. These countries differ because their restaurants already include a 10% sit-down charge says Anne Deane.
Unlike the United States, Carl Deane says that tipping in Europe does not require anything higher than 15%, if at all. A tourist might think that because North America and Europe are both developed first-world countries, tipping would be the same but it’s actually not.
The creation of the European Union meant that all countries that are affiliated get the benefits of universal laws, including ones that pertain to wages and jobs. High tips such as those in the United States are not necessary because the EU has put laws in place that support service workers without them having to depend on tips to survive explains Carl Deane.
Generally, a service charge is added to the bill at restaurants, so tipping means that the customer was very pleased with the service. Taxis don’t require tipping either, although rounding up is appreciated. Similarly, porters and housekeepers at hotels don’t require tips but a nice one Euro gift shows that they are appreciated says Carl Deane.
Germany, Portugal, Ireland, and the United Kingdom will have a small tipping culture (5-10%), but again, it’s not required. Going to a pub or bar is a common pastime but bartenders don’t expect a tip either.
Lastly, in Italy, Austria, and parts of Eastern Europe tips are generally more appreciated because the wages are lower in these countries. If someone doesn’t tip, it’s common to at least round up to the nearest dollar according to Carl Deane.
Tipping is not necessary for Asia, although recently, some trendy new restaurants and hotels do accept tips as a way to emulate Western countries explains Anne Deane. Japan, South Korea, and Nepal believe that good service is part of life so there shouldn’t be any monetary incentives to help others or be of service to someone. Travelers might even find that they will refuse the tip.
Southeastern Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are more open to receiving tips, especially because they tend to make less money, but again, it’s not required says Carl Deane. The general attitude is tips are appreciated but it’s not in bad taste if no tip is given.
The Middle East and Africa
Middle Eastern and African countries expect tips. Much like the United States, service workers at restaurants and hotels will expect anywhere from 10-20%. In Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, servers expect a 15-20% tip.
Carl Deane says that African countries like Egypt, South Africa, and Morocco expect tips of 10-15% and will often try to add an additional service fee. This is something to watch out for because otherwise, someone is essentially paying double the tip.
Australia and New Zealand don’t typically take tips at restaurants or other service industries but recently it’s been changing. Nowadays, Oceania has become more like the United States and many places will expect 10-15% tips.
Local Currency or USD
According to Carl Deane, this answer depends on the country. Many European countries have a strong currency, so it doesn’t make sense (and can be insulting) to tip in US dollars. However, in countries where their currency isn’t as strong, US dollars are very welcome.
One caveat to tipping in US dollars: think about conversion fees. While the dollar may be strong in some countries, if an individual brings it in to exchange for their local currency, they can end up losing a lot of money due to the conversion fees and exchange rates.
If that’s a concern, it might be better to tip in local currency but give a comparable amount to what would be given in USD.