Deciding who to tip while traveling the globe can be dizzying. Without wanting to step on any cultural toes, it’s important to have a basic understand of tipping culture in your new destination. We’ve broken down some basic “tipping tips” by continent so you can have a pocket guide while on the road.
North America: Tipping in North America is a wide spread tradition. Everyone from the hotel doorman to the person who shampoos your hair expects a dollar or two. When traveling and interacting with many people in the service industry, it can feel overwhelming to remember everyone providing assistance. The basics are servers at restaurants, bartenders, spa attendants and hairdressers all get 15-20% in this part of the world. Others such as taxi drivers, food delivery personnel and baristas often get 10-15%. Feel free to offer a dollar or two to anyone helping with your luggage, cleaning up your hotel room or offering a towel in the washroom.
South America: Compared to their North American counterparts, tipping is not as customary in many South American countries. Most servers in restaurants and salons expect a 10% tip of the bill though. Double check to make sure this isn’t already included, as some places will add a VAT fee automatically. Services like taxis are more unusual when it comes to tipping and vary from country to country. Expect to pay a 10% tip to drivers in Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia. Other countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia do not tip their drivers. This also can differ between urban and rural areas, so using your own discretion is advised. Have a few small bills handy to avoid any awkward situations where tipping seems normal.
Caribbean: Many travelers opt to see several Caribbean islands at once while taking a cruise. This means handing out tips for ship staff, porters and activity guides along the way. This is the case when visiting almost any island. Taxis can be a great way to quickly get downtown or to the most popular beaches. Tipping is less here than in other destinations, so a simple rounding to the next dollar after paying the fare is accepted.
Asia: As one of the world’s largest continents, it can be tough to put Asia tipping advice in a box. But fortunately, save for a few large cities, tipping and traveling is usually very affordable. The essential thing to remember in Asia, particularly in China, Taiwan, and Japan, is that tipping is frowned upon as it is seen as a handout. Other countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are happy to accept small tips in restaurants, hotels and for hire car services. Hong Kong is an abnormality in Asia, and generous tipping is normal in high-end establishments frequented by western travelers.
Europe: Europe can also be a wild card when it comes to tipping. Offering a few euros to most service personnel in giant metropolises like Paris, London, Rome and Madrid is a given. Most servers at restaurants throughout Western and Eastern Europe are glad for an additional euro or two for each person in the party they take care of. Unlike at many bars in the U.S., tipping venders in Europe is not customary. Watch out for added service charges at hotels and restaurants that often cover the tip automatically.
Africa: Tipping is welcome in many aspects of service in many parts of Africa. Be sure to hand tips directly to service members in the North and East, as things like front desks tips might not go to the right staff. Many people visiting Africa will take day or week-long tours, so these guides often deserve a higher tip then a temporary driver. Ask ahead of time if you should tip in the local currency, as U.S. dollars are sometimes accepted and preferred in some countries.
South Pacific: Australia, New Zealand and islands such as Fiji can all get really pricey really fast. This is especially true in iconic cities and popular resort destinations. Be fair about tipping personnel but realize that it’s the norm for most service people to receive a tip so you will need many small bills on hand. But, when simply hailing a taxi or ordering a drink, tipping is not usually accepted! Look for hidden fees though during peak holiday times, as some restaurants and tours will add a mandatory service charge without notice.
Antarctica? No tips here. The fact that you even paid anyone to help you make it to this frigid place is tips enough.