Tipping while travelling can be confusing, differs by country and doesn’t always depend on service quality. “Knowing which countries where you should leave a tip is just as important as knowing which countries not to,” said Joachim Holte, Chief Marketing Officer for Wego, the travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East. “It’s amazing how many travellers forget to research this all important component of visiting other countries. It’s wise to be aware of the tipping customs in each place you visit to avoid uncomfortable situations, ensure a smooth trip and avoid paying too much which is quite often the result.”
As a general rule, tips as a sign of appreciation are expected in restaurants in Austria, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, The Netherlands, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. However in Fiji, Malaysia and South Korea restaurant tips are not required. Checking whether there’s a service charge added to your bill is also a good way to tell whether a tip is applicable or not, and then you have the choice to leave a small amount on top if the service was particularly impressive.
In Argentina for example, tipping is actually illegal, however, waiters often expect to be tipped by foreigners so if you were to tip, discretion is advised. In the US, low wage earners in the service industry are reliant on tipping to balance out their income, yet in Romania, tips are often declined and in Japan, tipping is considered offensive.
“There are always considerations and dependencies in any country that you should investigate further before travelling,” Holte continued. “For instance, in the UK, tipping for food in restaurants is OK, although unexpected as service charges are generally included. Yet, tipping for drinks at a bar is just not cricket!”
Where restaurants are where you’d most expect to leave a tip as an acknowledgement of good food and service, some countries expect it for other areas of service too. In general, it’s not uncommon to give a small tip to your porter as he drops off your luggage in your hotel room in most places. You’re fairly safe if you round up your fare for taxi drivers anywhere you go apart from New Zealand and Chile, where it’s not expected at all.
“It seems that tipping traditions are evolving throughout the world as more people travel. Australia and New Zealand don’t have a history of tipping yet travellers who are unaware of this fact have heightened some expectations from service staff,” he added.
“If you haven’t done your homework before you go, remember you can always ask what the custom is from hotel staff. Most people will appreciate you taking the time to find out, and it’s a good way to avoid some very sticky situations,” Holte concluded.