Tipping Guide for Travelers

Person paying restaurant bill and leaving a tip

One of the trickiest parts of traveling is knowing when or who to tip and how much is appropriate. Although a tipping guide can be helpful in avoiding tipping too much or too little and knowing when you should keep your money put away, there are no absolute rules to tipping. Tips are very much subjective to one's perception of the service performed. The guidelines can be complicated with varying information and different amounts expected by industry type, level and location.

Tipping in the United States: Standard Tipping Chart

According to information gathered from Bankrate, Travel Insider, TripSavvy, and U.S. News & World Report, typical tipping amounts expected in the U.S. are as follows:

Bartender $1 to $2 per drink, $5 per round of drinks or 15 to 20% of the bill
Restaurant Server 15 to 20% of the bill before tax (20% for fine dining and groups of six or more)
Fast food/coffee shop counter service no tip required
Takeout food (you pick up inside) no tip required
Curbside takeout (delivered to car) 10% of pre-tax total (minimum of $2 for small orders)
Food delivery driver 10% of pre-tax total
Shopping/delivery services 10 - 15% of order cost before sales tax
Bellhop/hotel porter

$1- $5 per bag, depending on bag weight and hotel level

Hotel concierge $5 or more if they perform a service for you
Hotel maid $3 -$5 per day each day (in case different people clean your room)
Hotel room service 10% beyond the automatic service charge per delivery
Hotel doorman $5 for performing a service, such as securing a taxi for you
Towel or toiletry delivery $3-$5 per visit; more at luxury hotels
Valet parking $1 to $2 after you get your car
Taxi, rideshare, limo, paid shuttle

15 to 20% of the fare

Tour guide 10% of the tour cost for a brief tour; $5-$10 per day for multiday outings
Tour bus driver $1 to $5 per day
Airport skycap

$3 to $5 per checked bag, based on weight

Airport or train station porter $1 - $3 per bag
Hairstylist

20 to 25% of service cost

Barber 20 to 25% of service cost
Massage therapist

20 to 25% of the cost

Manicurist 20 to 25% of the cost
Spa service provider 20 to 25% of the cost

Exceptions to Standard U.S. Tipping

Although most tipping in America is pretty standard, there are a few exceptions when it comes to location or the type of establishment serving you.

  • The standard 15% restaurant gratuity is a bare minimum amount, intended even for average service. For good or outstanding service, as well as in fine dining restaurants, a 20% tip is really the norm. Leave 25% for outstanding service.
  • In most small towns and cities it is acceptable to round your cab fare up to the next dollar amount but in larger cities such as New York or Chicago, it's better to tip 15% to 20% of the fare.
  • Expect to tip the bellhop and other employees in upscale hotels more than at a standard hotel. It's a good habit to tip double in a high-end hotel what you'd tip elsewhere.

Before You Tip in the U.S.

Look at your bill carefully before you add a tip. In the U.S., it's common for restaurants to automatically add a gratuity of 15 to 20% on parties of six or more at one table. USA Today indicates that automatic gratuities in restaurants are also becoming more common in tourist destinations such as ski resorts and beach towns, as well as in large cities.

International Tipping Guidelines

Mastering domestic tipping guidelines is complicated enough, and they become even more complex when considering international travel. Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico are similar enough to the U.S. in terms of tipping etiquette that it is fine to use the same guidelines. Elsewhere, your best option is to look up international tipping customs for the specific places you plan to visit, as expectations vary from one region to the next.

Australia

Tipping is not expected in Australia, and hospitality workers get paid enough not to depend on tips. However, tips are appreciated for exceptional service and are becoming more common in pricier establishments.

  • Restaurants: If you choose to tip, 10 to 15% is acceptable for waiters and bartenders.
  • Hotels: If desired, you can tip $2 per bag for porters and $2 to $5 per day for housekeeping.
  • Transportation: For taxi drivers, it's customary to round up to the nearest dollar. Four tour bus drivers, $5 to$10 is a good amount.
  • Tour guides: For a private guide, $20 to $50 is a good amount.

Currency - Australian dollar

Great Britain

In Great Britain (and most of Europe) tips are usually included in the bill at restaurants, labeled as a service charge or optional charge. This fee can be adjusted to a level you feel comfortable with. Tipping is not expected in pubs.

  • Restaurants: If a service charge is not added, tip 10 to 15%.
  • Hotels: Tip 2 pounds per bag for porters and 2 pounds per day for housekeepers, going up to 5 pounds at five-star properties.
  • Transportation: Rounding up to the nearest pound is sufficient for cab drivers. Tip 10 pounds for the driver of a guided tour.
  • Tour guides: Tip 20 pounds per day.

Currency - British Pound or Pound Sterling

France

If you see service compris written on your dining bill in France, a tip is not necessary but locals will often leave up to 10% anyway. Tips are not expected in bars, but don't be surprised to see a 15% service charge added to your bill.

Change left from a bistrot bill, Paris
  • Restaurants: Bills typically include a 15% service charge, but if you feel inclined to do so, you can tip an extra 5 to 10%.
  • Hotels: Tip 1 euro per bag for the bellman, 1 to 2 euros per day for housekeepers and 10 to 15 euros for the concierge who makes reservations for you.
  • Transportation: The minimum tip for taxi drivers is 1 to 2 euros, with a maximum of 10 to 15% for exceptional service. Tip 10 to 20 euros for private airport transfers.
  • Tour guides: Tip tour guides 10% of the tour price.

Currency - Euro

Germany

Rounding up the bill to the nearest euro is fine for small bills when only ordering one or two items such as drinks or coffee. When paying for an entire meal, it's best to use a percentage. Germans have no qualms about generous tips.

  • Restaurants: Look for an automatic service charge on your bill. If there's not one, tip 10%. If there is, feel free to add a few euros for exceptional service.
  • Hotels: Tip 1 to 2 euros per bag for the bellman, 3 to 5 euros per day for the housekeeper and 10 - 20 euros for concierge services.
  • Transportation: Tip taxi drivers by rounding up the total cost to the next Euro.
  • Tour guides: Show appreciation to tour guides with a 10% gratuity, based on the cost of the tour.

Currency - Euro

Italy

Enjoy the romance of a gondola ride through the canals in Venice without worrying about tipping the gondolier, as it isn't customary to do so. Tipping isn't generally practiced or expected in Italy, except for tour guides. Tip if you feel inclined because of excellent or prompt service, as doing so is likely to encourage more of the same.

  • Restaurants: Tip no more than 10%, and to that only if you received truly outstanding service.
  • Hotels: Tip 1 euro per bag for the bellman, with a maximum of 5 euros total.
  • Transportation: Round up your cab fare up to the next euro and offer one or two more for extraordinary service.
  • Tour guides: For a large group, tip a half-day guide 5 euros per person and a full-day guide 10 euros per person. For a private tour, provide a 10% gratuity.

Currency - Euro

Spain

Tipping is not expected or customary in Spain. However, it is becoming more commonplace in touristy areas, being influenced by travelers who are accustomed to tipping. Although Spanish locals are not big tippers, those that do stick with small change and single euros on everything but elaborate meals, which sometimes get gratuities of 5 to 10 percent. When receiving extraordinary service, free coffees or liqueurs, help translating the menu or special meal preparation, show your appreciation with a tip.

Concierge with tip from woman
  • Restaurants: If your bill doesn't already have a service charge, reward good service with a gratuity of up to 10%. Leave the tip in cash, not on a credit card, as credit card payments won't go to the server.
  • Hotels: Tip 5 to 10 euros for a concierge who provides special favors, 1 euro per bag for the bellman and up to 5 euros per day for housekeepers.
  • Transportation: Round up the fare for a taxi driver and tip a private tour driver 15 to 20 euros.
  • Tour guides: If you book a private tour, tip your tour guide 20 euros. It's not expected for group tours, but you can tip a few euros.

Currency - Euro

Japan

Tipping is not at all common in Japan. Handing money directly to a service person can actually be offensive in Japan. In the few cases where it is accepted, the currency should be kindly presented in an envelope using both hands. Tour guides do not expect tips but it is acceptable to offer one.

  • Restaurants: Do not offer a tip to the waiter as it will likely cause confusion.
  • Hotels: A hotel concierge or porter is likely to decline a tip, and it's also not expected for housekeeping staff members. Most hotel staff members are instructed to decline tips, so you should never insist that a worker accept one.
  • Transportation: Round up the fare for a cab driver and offer to buy lunch (worth 2000 to 2500 yen) for a private tour driver.
  • Tour guides: Tour guides in Japan do not expect tips. You may want to offer a few thousand yen, but don't be surprised if the tip is refused.

Currency - Japanese Yen

China

Similar to Japan and other Asian countries such as South Korea and Thailand, tipping is not part of the culture in China. The main exception is tour guides. Fine hotels and restaurants that cater to travelers usually include a service charge, but nothing is expected or really allowed beyond that.

  • Restaurants: A 10 to 15% service charge is automatically added in larger cities.
  • Hotels: Discreetly tip luggage porters in luxury hotels that cater to international travelers the equivalent of $1 (about 6.58 yuan) per bag and $2 to $3 for room attendants. Don't tip in smaller domestic hotels.
  • Transportation: Taxi drivers don't expect a tip but, according to China Highlights, it's okay to offer (but not insist upon) a small amount if the driver helps with heavy luggage or takes a special route to get you to your destination on time.
  • Tour guides: TripSavvy recommends 75 yuan per day for full-day tour guides, with roughly half that amount for the tour bus driver.

Currency - Chinese Yuan

Greece

While not a customary tradition in Greece, tipping is perfectly acceptable and appreciated. Always leave the tip in cash even if you pay the bill with a credit card.

  • Restaurants: If a service charge is not added to the bill in a restaurant, tip the server 5 to 10%. In cafes, tipping is not required (though it's okay to leave a small amount if there is a tip jar).
  • Hotels: Tip 1 - 2 euros per bag for porters and 1 euro per day for housekeepers,
  • Transportation: Taxi drivers don't expect a tip but are happy when you round up the fare. Offer a private driver 20 euros per day or double that if he has gone out of his way.
  • Tour guides: For private tours, tip 20 euros per person in your group. For group tours, tip 2 to 5 euros per person.

Currency - Euro

South Africa

As with the U.S., tipping is standard practice in South Africa. It is generally expected in restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that cater to tourists or provide personal services.

  • Restaurants: Tip 10 to 20% for restaurant servers.
  • Hotels: Tip $1 per bag for porters (about 17 rand), $1 per day for housekeepers and $3 to $5 for the concierge.
  • Transportation: Tip 10% for taxi drivers. If you engage the services of a car guard to look after your vehicle, consider a gratuity of 2 to 5 rand.
  • Tour guides: Tip 20 to 50 rand per person for group guides. For private tours, tip at least 100 rand for a full-day guide.

Currency: South African Rand

Worldwide Tipping Commonalities

A few similarities amongst worldwide tipping practices include:

  • Giving hotel bellmen or porters the equivalent of a few dollars per bag
  • Leaving a few dollars each day for the housekeeper
  • Keeping a low-key approach in countries where tipping is not customary but usually appreciated
  • Always tipping your tour guide

Additional Tipping Advice

Being aware of when to tip and what amount is expected in a particular area is important, but it's not the only factor to consider. Key tipping advice to keep in mind includes:

Rely on an App

Don't get caught unprepared if you didn't research tipping guidelines in advance of a trip. Download an app like Global Tipping or Tip Calculator to use. These apps can help with currency conversions, tipping the right amount and even how to present the tip.

When in Rome

The old adage of 'do as the locals do' holds true with tipping, as social etiquette is always subject to change. If you are able to observe how the locals tip, feel free to follow their lead. You can also ask about tipping in a friendly conversation with the concierge at your hotel or another local resident. Avoid asking the person you plan to tip directly, as it puts them in an awkward situation.

Use Local Currency

Always tip service people in the local currency, as many would be unable to convert U.S. dollars or coins themselves. Be sure to carry small denominations of the local currency for tips when you are out and about in another country. Currency conversion centers are often located in international airports.

Friends collecting money for tip

Discretionary Decision

A tip is a gift of gratitude for good or exceptional service. Don't feel pressured to part with money if you feel the service was lacking. Assigning value to the service you receive is totally at your discretion. General tipping guidelines and recommendations can vary, as can the quality of service received. Even among travel experts, you will find some discrepancies when it comes to best practices for tipping.

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Tipping Guide for Travelers