Wherever you travel in the world, paying a tip, or a gratuity as they call it in the USA, for services you receive in a variety of places including bars, restaurants, spas, and hair salons can be somewhat of a minefield. The reason why? For a start there are alway so many questions. Is 10 or 15 per cent enough or should I tip more? And do you tip based on the number of people in your group receiving the service, or do you tip as a group? And in certain countries, do you even need to tip? A big problem is that the practice of tipping varies wildly across different services and cultures. For example, while tipping at a restaurant or a bar is expected in some destinations, tipping a taxi driver or the person who does your nails in that same place may not be. So when it comes to your next luxe-for-less holiday, and the practice of tipping, what is a traveller to do? Our top tip is to do some research on the culture of tipping in the country you’re travelling to before you leave home. For example, in Japan tipping is considered rude while in South Korea it’s not expected, however, in the USA you’ll need to hand over dollar bills to everyone from taxi drivers and doormen at hotels, to bartenders and waiters. And in destinations including Spain, Brazil, Scandinavia, and the Caribbean, a service charge is often included in a bill; if not, a tip of 10 to 20 per cent is the norm to leave behind.
The next important thing to do is to take plenty of the local currency with you, including a good selection of low value bills and small change to use for tips. On arrival, if you really want to be sure of what you’re doing, when you get to your hotel check the tipping rules with the concierge as they will have plenty of knowledge about local customs, as well as other plenty of other do’s and don’ts for your holiday. Later, if you’re in a bar or restaurant and you receive a bill you may or may not see that a service charge has already applied; if it isn’t clear, and you’re unsure about whether or not you need to leave a tip, just ask. If you are leaving a tip, always make it on the high side when it comes to percentages, as it’s always appreciated by staff, and make it a rule to always tip at your hotel, even if just a few dollars, to the guy who brings round your car, the guy who carries your luggage to your room, room service, and the people who clean your room. And if all else fails, remember it is largely better to leave a tip in your own currency, or in US dollars, rather than nothing.