How much to tip when you’re traveling abroad


From dining to grooming, tipping has become the norm across many industries in the U.S. While the amount you choose to tip is largely at your discretion, we’ve come to treat tipping as an obligation rather than a choice. The problem what that is that your generous tipping habits aren’t always transferable across the pond.

“It’s interesting because as Americans in other countries, we typically over-tip,” said Dean Foster, author of Bargaining Across Borders and co-host of the podcast Oops, Your Culture’s Showing!

Here’s what you need to know about customary tipping practices before your next trip.

No tip required

Across Southeast Asia and countries like Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia Singapore and Indonesia, Foster said tipping isn’t only not required, but it’s illegal in certain establishments like airports. And where it is not illegal, it is often considered rude. “In certain more Westernized restaurants you might sense tipping is going on. In big cities like Shanghai that have become so internationalized, I’ve seen people do it and I wouldn’t say it’s accepted but you certainly don’t have to do it,” he said. To err on the side of caution, you’re definitely better off saving that extra cash to see more sights.

Tip here and there

In Europe, Australia and New Zealand, check the bottom of the bill before tacking on a tip. Foster said in most European countries like France, Germany and Spain, tip is already included in your total at no more than 10 percent. In France, it might say something along the lines of service compris for service included, though some travelers argue that service and tip aren’t one in the same. It is customary to throw in a few extra coins for an additional tip or pourboire, which directly translates to “for a drink” — if your server has taken particularly great care of you, you would effectively be buying them a drink in return. If you aren’t sure about extra charges, have your service provider clear up any confusion.

Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Foster said that you are, of course, welcome to tip on top of the pre-added amount, but make sure you cap it at 10 percent, with an extra 20 percent tip being “far, far too high.”

Tip the same way in Canada as you would in the U.S.: 15 to 18 percent for decent service and 20 percent for great service on the total of your bill before tax. For cocktails and beers at bars, the general rule is $1 or $2 per drink no matter the price.

Tip often

Once you get to the Middle East, India, Latin America and Africa, be prepared to tip anytime a service industry worker or kind citizen assists you in any way. “There’s a concept [in the Middle East] called baksheesh in Arabic for service. If anyone does anything for you they expect to be rewarded financially for everything from a haircut to helping you cross the street, because [in some of those countries] you take your life in your hands,” he said.

At a restaurant, you should tip 10 or 15 percent of your bill (no matter the level of service), and if a bellhop helps you with your luggage at a hotel, you should tip the equivalent of a dollar per bag. Since you’ll be tipping frequently throughout the day if you visit a Middle Eastern country, Foster suggested carrying plenty of small bills or coins to have at the ready.