U.S. & International Travel Tipping Etiquette: A Guide to Tipping Around the World by Panache Cruises
When visiting a new country, tourists enjoy exploring local restaurants and vendors to immerse themselves in the culture. However, navigating the correct way to tip can be challenging, especially when the rules and norms differ massively worldwide. Failure to understand and follow country-wide culture norms can put travelers in awkward situations, especially when money is involved.
Expectations of tipping vary a lot from place to place, and while tipping is optional in the U.K., it is expected in some countries to make up for poor salaries, whereas, in other areas, it can be seen as an insult. In the United States, for example, federal law dictates that employers can pay tipped employees just $2.13 an hour if they make an extra $30 a month extra in tips, which is why tipping is so necessary.
“It is essential to understand the tipping culture of overseas destinations to avoid causing any offence or uncomfortable situations," says James Cole, founder and managing director of luxury cruise specialist Panache Cruises. "Customs and traditions in overseas destinations can be bewildering, especially with drastically varying tipping standards. Tipping can be seen as offensive and embarrassing in countries like Japan and China, but a necessity in countries like the USA where it is relied on to make a living."
Tourists should do their research beforehand, says Cole. "But typically around 10 to 15 percent should suffice, so make sure to bring plenty of the local currency. Some places include service charges which may be compulsory or mandatory so it is always best to check before paying. But make sure to do the math and check the percentage is calculated correctly as some businesses try to scam tourists by overcharging on both service charges and the suggested tip.”
Here is our guide for tipping around the world:
United Kingdom (U.K.)
Tipping is not expected in the U.K. because everyone is paid a legal national minimum wage. Brits have a reputation for being bad tippers as there is no accustomed tipping culture or rules, so tipping is very casual and utterly dependent on how the customer feels about the service they received. Higher-end restaurants may add on a service charge, which can be removed if not satisfied. No one will be offended if there is no tip but will equally be grateful if they receive one, whether in a hair salon, taxi or restaurant.
United States (U.S.)
Tipping is very much embedded in American culture, especially since employers in many American states are entitled to pay waiting staff below minimum wage, so customers are expected to make up their wages with generous tips. Low hourly wages mean that failing to tip can seem personal, so as a general rule of thumb, 15 to 20 percent of the bill is the good tipping start point and 30 percent for top-notch service. It’s also expected that taxi drivers, hairdressers, beauty therapists, porters and those who deliver food should receive a fee for their services in the U.S.
Tipping is common and expected for good service in Europe, so holidaymakers should bring change. In some parts of Europe, like France, a service charge will be included in the bill, but tipping with extra euros will still be welcomed. Cover charges will be called a variety of different things so always have a translation app or guidebook to hand to properly comprehend the charges.
Expect to pay between 5 to 15 percent as a polite gesture to servers and staff, or round up to the nearest 5 or 10 euros. Tips in many areas of Europe, such as Greece and Spain, can help to supplement wages, so if tourists feel the service has been excellent, it is always good to tip. Always look out for excessively high service charges which
Many Asian countries don’t see tipping as usual, typical or expected unless in a popular tourist spot. Tourist guides or taxi drivers may welcome a small tip, but there is no long-standing tradition of tipping culture; it has simply grown with Western tourism. In some parts of Asia, it can be seen as an insult to tip, so the rules and scenarios vary greatly. Tourists in Japan, and parts of China, may even be chased down by servers to return the money. Tipping is much more common in areas like Thailand, where tipping 10 percent is fair and welcomed. Before travelling around Asia, do research to avoid a kind gesture being misconstrued.
Although not expected, tipping is appreciated in Australia, but there are no rules. Tourists are not obligated to tip, and Australian establishments don’t tend to add extra charges to the bill for service. The tipping culture down under is very relaxed as it doesn’t directly affect workers' pay. However, if the service exceeds expectations, tipping 10 percent would be appreciated, although staff would reportedly prefer to be greeted with respect and good humor instead.
The Middle East
In the Middle East, especially in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, servers are used to receiving a tip of around 15 to 20 percent. Even when a service charge has been added, workers expect a bonus, whether in a restaurant or hotel. Service in the middle east tends to go above and beyond what is expected, which is why tipping is expected. Remember to give tips discreetly in line with their culture.
Tipping at Sea
With more and more people choosing a cruise for their annual holiday, it is becoming increasingly important for holiday makers to understand the tipping etiquette when on-board cruise ships too. On most cruise lines an automatic gratuity will be added to your onboard account which will cover tips for the staff.
The suggested amount will vary by cruise line but typical values are $15 to $20 per person per day. However, most luxury and ultra-luxury cruise lines such as Silversea include all tips and gratuities in the fare. So when pricing up a cruise holiday ensure you calculate the total cost of the cruise and not just the lead in fare.
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