how to tip

To tip or not to tip? This is the question… This is tricky because unfortunately there is no main rule which you can apply all over the world. In some countries you will find a tip on your bill by default, in others, it’s up to you if you want to tip or not and finally there are countries which you should not tip at all. That’s a real headache… I was lost in that. That’s why I’ve decided to write a guide on how to tip around the world.

What is a tip?

Let’s start with answering this question. Usually, a tip is an amount of money conventionally given by a customer to the staff for a good service. We can tip in bars, restaurants, hotels, taxi drivers, room service etc.

Despite that there are no common rules for tipping, you will be considered as a douchebag if you fail to pay the tip where you were supposed to pay. People always consider that you know (should know) local tipping habits. Therefore let us begin the assimilation of tipping knowledge 🙂 Let’s learn how to tip. Read on my friend.

How to tip in Europe

As Europe is a home for 50 countries you can imagine that there is no one rule on how to tip which would work in each European country. But, if you will follow the bullets listed below, you should handle with this topic or at least not end up embarrassed:

  • Consider a tip as a gratuity for good or exceptional service.
  • In European countries, the rule of thumb is to leave 5-10% of the final amount. Tipping more would be considered a lot and unusual in some countries.
  • Don’t worry to be exact with the tip amount with each tip. For some smaller bills, there’s nothing wrong in rounding the sum up to the nearest round number.
  • Another way to determine the minimum tip amount is to follow the literal meaning of the tip in the local language. In Germany it’s trinkgeld which means „drinking money”, in France pourboire which you can translate as „for drinking” and in Poland, it’s napiwek, which literally means „for beer”. Knowing the price of a beer you will know how much you should leave on the table 🙂
  • It’s wort to check if a tip is not already included in the bill (if so, it should be mentioned in Menu). For example in the tourist regions of Italy, some restaurants will charge you for coperto. It’s the payment for the table cover and you should consider it as a tip.

How to tip in the Americas

In the Americas, tips are always expected as this is usually a significant part of staff’s salary.

Following Tripadvisor, in the US you should think of leaving 15-20% of your final charge. This is also a case in Canada and Columbia. Tipping in Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru seem to be like in Europe – you can show your gratuity with 10-15%  for a service which meets the standard.

As it is in Europe in some countries of South America (for example Chile) you can meet with the 10% service charge added to the bill.

How to tip in the Middle East & Africa

Tipping rules in the Middle East and Africa are more-less like in the Americas. Tipping is expected by the staff and the following rules apply:

  • In Arabic countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar) leaving 15-20% of the bill is considered as a normal tip.
  • Dubai government set up the law where it states that each restaurant in Dubai has to add 10% service charge to bills at restaurants. This is also a case in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel so be careful with paying too much.
  • Even if the tip is added to the bill you can think of adding something on top (or round the amount) as some restaurants do not share this money with their staff.

How to tip in Asia and Australia

This you should remember – be careful with leaving tips in most parts of Asia. Unless you want to be chased by waiters trying to give your money back 🙂 as it once happened to me and my colleagues in China.

To be serious, in some countries like Japan, tipping can be seen as insulting.

As I wrote above – tipping in China is not practiced. However, I’ve read that some fancy restaurants started to accept tips.

Feel free to leave some small amounts in Thailand. This is the rule of thumb for most of the tourist areas also in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

Rounding the check is common for Australia and New Zealand.  

What else can help to not get lost?  

Well, as I said at the beginning – each country has its own rules. You can always do a little research in google but above mentioned general rules should help you to avoid embarrassment.

If you still are in doubts and would like to know more you can do the following:

  1. Use a Tip Generating App. Just enter in which country you are currently and the app will tell you how to tip. I’ve tried Tip N Split Tip Calculator for Android or if you want, version for Apple products. These are pretty good ones because contain pieces of advice on the tip % in different countries. If you want to know some more useful travel apps, read on my previous article: best air travel apps.
  2. Ask your waiter what is the local habit.
  3. As the last resort, you can always round up the bill.

Final word

At the end I’d like to list 5 bullets which I take into consideration when I pay the bill:

  1. A tip is a great tool to express your satisfaction or lack of it. Each time the service meets my expectations or overreaches it, I show my gratuity with an appropriate tip.
  2. I follow the regional rules listed above in this article.
  3. When buying some small things in the bar or restaurant (for example a beer and a snack), I just round the bill up.
  4. I pay more than expected in places where I go more often. This ensures me the better service when I come back next time 🙂
  5. I always give tips in cash. Even when paying with a card I have some cash for the tip prepared in advance.

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