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Tips on Tipping While Traveling

Tipping is a practice that sometimes causes confusion: when to tip, where to tip, and how much to tip are all questions that arise when benefiting from the services provided by certain industries, particularly when traveling. Tipping etiquette and expectations depend on the area of industry, as well as geographic location. In some locations, tipping is an important practice---in other locations, it may be considered rude. We’ve compiled this general list for our wanderers to get you thinking about when and how much to tip and where to skip.

Winni Wanderer | Tips on Tipping While Traveling

North America

In Canada, the United States, and Mexico, tipping is customary as many hospitality and service industry workers rely on tips as a good portion of their income.  Nowadays there are so many service points that may call for giving a tip as you travel - from room service or grocery delivery to valet and housekeeping.

Restaurants, Room Service & Housekeeping

For many, one of the joys of traveling is the experience of dining out. Tips for food service are generally encouraged to fall in the range of 15 – 25% depending on the service received. If you use a coupon for a discount off your bill or a free meal, the reduced bill is not what you should base your tip upon. Instead, take the entire total (that does not reflect the discount or free meal) and tip the server from that total. Since the discount came off the goods, and not the service provided, the tip should not be lessened because of the discount. The same rationale goes for any meals that may be comped from a hotel or casino; the standard tip range should apply based on the value of the goods and service received.

Regarding room service, many hotels include a tip in the bill for a room service delivery, and some room menus will state as such. Not sure or don’t see it on the menu? It wouldn’t hurt to tip between $5 - $10 depending on how fast your order arrived.

Housekeeping often gets left out of tipping due to the nature of services, which are usually performed outside the presence of those receiving the service. If you are staying in a hotel that provides a daily tidy and turndown service then tipping at least $5 a day is customary for room categories below a suite, and for suites, $10 or more per day is the standard practice.

Valet, Rideshare or Shuttle

Who doesn’t like having the ability to drive right up to the entrance to a hotel and not worry about finding a parking spot in an unfamiliar place? The general rule of thumb for valet tipping is between $4 - $7, depending on the hotel and also assistance with luggage.

If you are utilizing a rideshare such as Uber, Lyft, or a taxi service, then the tip is based on the fare with the percentage ranging from 10 – 20%. A higher tip is warranted if the driver helped with baggage, gave exceptional information about the local happenings, or made a side trip to a store or coffee shop.

Complimentary shuttle service tipping often ranges based on the helpfulness of the driver, particularly with boarding the vehicle or transporting any bags, as well as if they provided helpful information. Generally, $2 - $5 is a good range for group shuttles and up to $20 for VIP or private car service. The length of the trip may also be a consideration. 

Group Tours & Excursions

For day trip tours or excursions, there are two ways to look at tipping: if it is a free excursion or tour then a range of $5 – $20 for the guide is usually sufficient; and, if it is a paid excursion then 10 – 20% of the total price is customary. The higher end of those ranges apply if the guide was engaged with the group, knowledgeable about the area or activity, and showed safety as their top priority.

Outside of North America - Where Not to Tip

Although it is customary to tip in North America, there are places where tipping is not expected and even places where tipping is considered rude. This list is not exhaustive, so we recommend researching your precise travel locations to be prepared for what is expected.

Australia/New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are often considered high on the list of friendliest places to visit. Their hospitality workers are paid a living wage and tips are simply a bonus if you feel you have received exceptional service, but they are not expected.

Denmark & Belgium

Both Denmark and Belgium are countries that often build service charges into the pricing of restaurant meals and hotels. And like Australia and New Zealand, the income of their service industry workers is not built around tipping. That said, it is not necessarily uncommon to tip in Denmark or Belgium for great service, and tips are appreciated.

Japan & China

Japan and China are two countries that have service industries with exceptional service records, and neither expect tipping – in fact, it can be considered offensive to tip there.

All things considered, if you are getting ready to travel to an unfamiliar place, we urge you to do your research about tipping. Whether it is to consult the destination’s tourism board or online guides, or to speak to someone who either lives there or travels there often, educating yourself about the local etiquette and customs surrounding tipping can prevent embarrassing situations and help for a smoother, more enjoyable travel experience. Also, tipping customs may also change, so researching before (or during) your trip is the best way to stay current.

We hope this inspires you to learn about where you wander! If there is a tip on tipping you think we missed, please reach out to us at Hearing from you will make our day!


By Staff Contributor


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