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Home / General Travel Tips /
World Wide Tipping Tips

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World Wide Tipping Tips

by Lorry Patton

tipping_hand.jpg It doesn't really matter if tipping was initiated 'to insure promptness' as the words imply. Today, tipping is part of most cultures. But, just who, where and what should we tip? Well, there are definite structures and there are definite expectations. However, there are two important things to remember.
Where tipping is accepted and expected, unless it's a preset service charge on your bill, you are in total control of who and what you tip. In countries where it is not expected, or where very little is expected, don't try to change the customs by tipping or by over-tipping. You will offend the host and make it difficult for the locals to go about their business in their usual manner.
* One small personal tip. Most of the world has seen US currency, therefore, I usually travel with a handful of US dollar bills just for tipping. However, if you can deal in the country's own currency, you will probably save money.
Here are my observations on tipping policies in the United States and Canada. There is a link at the bottom of this page that will take you to a list of tipping tips in other parts of the world. All countries are not included and we will be adding to the list, meanwhile, I'd be pleased to hear from you if I've made important omissions. Please note that all monies are in US dollars.
Restaurants & Bars:
In dining establishments in the United States and Canada, 15% is the standard tip to your food server and 20% for exceptional service. Maitre d's in finer rooms can be given anywhere from $2 to $5 for a special table. Busboys do not expect a tip. Coat checks are $1 per item.
Check your bill to see if the tip (or service charge ) has been added, however, even then, some people are compelled and expected to leave an extra 5 to 10%.
Recently, you'll see a jar for tips on the counter in cafeterias and coffee bistros where you serve yourself. Leave some change if you're so inclined. At buffets where a server brings you water and drinks, tip a dollar or two. Tip bartenders serving drinks at your table $2 to $3, depending on how many in your party.
Hotels, Resorts, Motels ...
From the moment you step out of your cab or out of your car at a fancy resort, there are people waiting to serve you and people expecting tips. First a doorman opens the door for you, then a bellman helps you with your luggage and directs you to the lobby and then a parking attendant parks your car. By the way, free valet parking doesn't mean you don't tip the parking attendant who parks your car.
If you arrive with a car, unless you park it yourself in the parking lot, tip the parking attendant $2 to park it. And remember, every time you need your car, you need to tip the parking attendant $2 to get it and another $2 to put it away. When you pick up your car at the end of your trip, tip the attendant 15 to $20% of the parking bill, which can be anywhere from $2 to $10 a day. If the resort offers shuttle, tip the driver $1 per passenger.
You don't have to give the doorman anything just for opening the door or greeting you. Tip him $1 if you need him to hail a cab or if he is exceptionally helpful.
The bellman will take your luggage to your room once you've checked-in. Tip him anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on the amount of luggage ( $1 to $2 per bag depending on the quality of the hotel) and how friendly and helpful he is - does he take a few minutes to explain how the radio works, where the ice is located, about the hotels amenities?
If you need help with show tickets or sightseeing advice, see the concierge. Give him or her $5 to $10 depending on his or her expertise and the quality of the hotel.
Leave the maid $1 per day or more if you need extra towels and shampoos ... Don't forget the turndown service maid is often a different person.
If you use it, room service usually adds 15% service charge to the bill, check to see before tipping. Tip $1 to $2 for delivery of letters or envelopes to your room. For extras like an iron or more blankets in your room, tip the housekeeper $1 to $2. Tip pool side attendants $1 for bringing you dry towels, the same to pool bartenders.
Personal Amenities:
Fancy resorts usually have their own beauty salons and barbershops. Men tip $1 to $2 for a regular haircut. Women generally tip 15% of their bill, more for an exceptional job. If a different person washes your hair, add $2 to $3.
Airports:
Help at airports can really save time. Porters deserve at least $1 per bag, minimum $3 for the job. Tip the driver $1 to $3 if you use the electric transfer car. Tip limo drivers 15% of the total bill. Don't tip airline attendants for bringing you a drink or your meal up in the air.
Taxi Drivers:
Tip taxi drivers 15% of the fare and an extra $.50 for each bag. Note: In many countries, get the fare settled before getting into the cab.
Cruises:
Many passengers offer a reward at the start of the cruise to insure exceptional service - like extra towels and a bucket of fresh ice in your cabin at all times - however, normally, the tips are gathered on your final night. The people you'll be paying are your cabin attendant, the maitre d', the dining room waiter, his or her assistant and the wine steward. Bartenders on the ship get tipped at the time they serve your drink. Just add 15% percent to the bill when you charge it to your room. I won't offer any tips here on how much to pay the rest of the crew, other than to say it will probably cost you about $20 to $30 per day per couple after the dust settles. There are suggestions in your cruise preparation kit and envelopes for you to put your money in just before you depart.
Guided Tours:
Tour guides usually get $5 per day per person, depending on the length of the trip, or 10% of the tour package. Bus drivers of the tour, if not the same person, get $2 per day per person.
Fishing Tours:
For an exceptional day, crew expects $15 to $20 for the day.
Trains:
If it's a guided tour, pay the leader 10% over package price and the rest of the crew as if on a cruise ship. Suggestions are offered in your preparation kit. If it's an unguided trip, tip the dining room waiters 15% of your dining bill. If it's an overnight excursion and there's turndown service, tip the room steward $2 per day.
Casinos:
There are several hands out in casinos. Tip the blackjack and poker dealers a chip or two when you get a winning hand. Tip keno runners $ .50 to $1. Tip change clerks $.50, bathroom attendants $.50 and bartenders $.50 to $1 for each drink.
Paying the maitre d' an extra $50 for good seats in a headliner show in a casino was quite common a few years ago, however, it has become more difficult to do that.
Footnote: As tippers continue to travel the world, countries where the practice wasn't customary are slowly becoming accustomed to tipping. However, not all. In Japan for example, it is still disgusting to exchange money.
Click Here for brief guidelines on tipping around the world.