Tipping While Traveling

Picture this: you’re on vacation to a place you’ve never been before. You have authentic food at a restaurant & you settle the bill. Do you leave money for the server?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines tip as “to give a gratuity to” & the word gratuity as “something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service”. From the definitions of these words, we get that giving a tip or gratuity tends to come down to how much a person feels they should give & thus, the issue becomes personal in nature. This is probably why people don’t necessarily like discussing it or why it has the potential to become an uncomfortable topic. The problem is that your stance on the matter of tipping is most likely heavily affected by where you come from. Once you leave the area you come from, there is potential for things to get awkward.

Tipping is a topic that must be spoken about with regards to travel & it is something you absolutely should thoroughly research before taking a trip. In Far East countries like Japan & China, it isn’t the norm & can actually be offensive to the server. If you go to Egypt, you might be surprised that tipping seems to be part of the culture & you will be expected to give a tip to every person who renders any form of service to you. This blog has previously mentioned how servers in the United States of America get vocal at patrons if the tip left behind is not sufficient. As you can see, the dynamics of this practice change greatly depending on where you go. When a person travels without preparing for things like this it is disappointing for the local & often embarrassing for the foreigner. Don’t be that person.

That’s it for today’s money talk. Like the DanVenture Travels Facebook page for other updates & use #DanVentureTravels on Instagram so that we can follow your exciting travels & adventures.

Keep traveling, keep safe.

DanVenture Travels

33 thoughts on “Tipping While Traveling

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  1. Some good points Dan. The worst experience I’ve had was in New York where the waitress told us the exact amount to leave! Explaining that as we were from out of town we wouldn’t know how much to leave.

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  2. Important topic, and not only for foreign travelers. The suggestive gestures like the hotel boy lingering about after checking you into the room, the restaurant guard doing some elaborate courtesy when you leave after dining or the waiters snubbing you if your last tips don’t match those of some generous patrons. I think the hospitality industry should have addressed this internally to avoid embarrassment to the “guest”. It’s even ok to include some amount as a bill amount maybe, but then we never know if it reaches the intended hands.

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      1. Not for eveywhere. I usually sit at the back first. Certainly now with corona. But in Australia you’re expected to sit in the front (pre-corona).

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  3. Yes, I have read in Japan, it’s not expected to tip and that if you try to leave a tip, they may well come after you to give the tip back.
    In Thailand we’ve tipped staff at the hotels we have stayed at, especially the housekeeping staff. How much to give I think it’s up to you. The knowledge that the housekeeping staff only earned (what seems to us) a pittance for their work, yet always smiling and saying good morning to us, impacted on how much we gave.

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  4. In the US, and it might be the same for all the 50 states, when we pay by credit with a credit/debit card, the waiter would bring out the bill first and the waiter would take your credit card to the back and run it, then print out the credit card receipt and bring it back to us, we fill in the tips on the receipt (and total it) and take back our credit card and leave, and they (the restaurants) would run the card this time without our actual card! (or readjust) the final credit bill after we leave, and it is usually a couple days later. Note to us in the US this is normal, we don’t find this practice strange. But after I traveled to other countries, the way we run the credit card payment in the USA is really strange – there is no way to know if the restaurant is honest in adding the tips to the credit bill correctly and also by then we would have forgotten how much we tipped when the final bill is posted to the account much less if they nafariously have copied down your credit card number, which is a major concern to the rest of the world but us! Now our credit card has a smart chip, but the merchant can still run the card again on their terminal to readjust for the tips. It is beyond my understanding how that works.

    My eyes were open after traveling. When I was in Chile, the server would bring a handheld credit card reader to our table if we are to pay by credit. And tip as I remember, can’t be paid by credit in most/if not all of Chile. We were in some uncomfortabble situations of not having some small bills to pay for tips. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. I felt we were always out of cash while there.

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  5. This is an interesting topic Dan. I guess where I live here in Sri Lanka tipping has been a rather normal practice until it was added to the bill as a service tax. So we generally check if the service charge is added to the bill and decide on tips. Sometimes, even if there is a service charge we decide to tip based on the service offered by the waiter. But service charge is not something that will come on the bill at small eateries and shops. Then we do give a tip. But tipping is a rather mixed gesture. Some folk don’t like to be tipped and others expect it. (this is for other services such as tour guide etc)

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  6. Great topic to inform others traveling, I know sometimes it’s hard to find all info as I have read some comments but at the same time most of the times with a simple google search one can find the answer . I must say though with tipping had bad experience in Chechia because at one place they wanted to take their tip by charging us for extra products , since we calculate what we consume it wasn’t adding up , so we called the waitress and told her , she said : well other foreigners don’t tip so we add stuff , and then I replied : we were here yesterday and left a tip that was good amount and you shouldn’t just add something at the bill assuming all foreigners are the same , I mean I can see why perhaps but still . Oh and in France if you do tip and the waiter saw it beforehand sometimes you get a free drink.

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  7. I really liked this post. It’s great advice and more generally leads to the reality that one really should do some research about a place before going to it.

    Yes exploration and spontaneous adventure are wonderful; but the observation of cultural norms is a great way to ingratiate ones self into a culture as opposed to impose.

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  8. Here in Italy we do not tip that much. All servers (waiters, clercks and anyone working directly with the public) has a full salary, thus they do not expect you to tip them. At restaurants, tip is considered an extra, that is why we do not want it to be billed on the credit card but we do rather hand it out directly or leave it cash on the table. We feel tip is to be handed out for very outstading services, not to everyone, that is why we tip very seldom. A different thing is for professionals, for example tour guides, city guides, bus drivers and anyone involved directly in the tourism industry. In this case they do expect to be tipped and we normally do. There is a specific percentage to be added to the invoice, thus it’s up to us to decide how much: very good service = very good tip. Standard service = standard tip.

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  9. When I give presentations on traveling well, I encourage people to read the introductory chapter of books abut the country to be visited, not just the details about specific towns or sights. It is in that opening chapter that information such as tipping customs can be found. And since most libraries have these books in their collections, there is no need to buy a book for every country visited. But definitely read the info.

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  10. I do think it’s worth remembering that developing countries don’t let us in because they care about international relations. They want money. They tend to have a lot less of it than we do and often depend on what we leave. I always tell folks if anything is particularly interesting (such as a man covered in tattoos with a massive python draped around his neck) sitting close to a sight that tourists are likely to visit, don’t even think about taking a photo unless you’ve got money to offer. That’s why he’s there. And it can be a matter of life and death. In southern India, someone was trying to sell me a couple of little souvenirs on a beach near a fish market. I didn’t want to buy anything, but he said, desperately, “Please. We need to eat.” So I gave him $10 for a few of the items on sale, and he quickly vanished into the market. A couple of minutes later he came out with a fish in each hand, held them up triumphantly, and declared, “Tonight, we eat.” But that’s why it’s so important to know exactly what the rules are. You can really change someone’s life — but you don’t want to look like a sucker.

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