A Guide to Tipping Around the World (Part 1)
How much should you tip when you travel?
When traveling abroad tipping can frequently be confusing. With our reliance on tipping, due in part to the lack of a professional cadre of waiters, we tend to assume that tipping is mandatory -- a great illusion.
Let’s recall that even in the States while tipping is encouraged, it’s discretionary and designed to reward good service. Though it could be argued that tipping before the meal might do more to improve our dining experience than any post repast tip will ever be able to.
So, what’s the deal then? Well, here’s a breakdown of tipping protocol in 20 popular travel destinations, in part 1 of our two-part series covering the U.S. to China.
15-20% for good service is expected. Above 20% for exceptional service is the norm, and if the service was poor, tip whatever you feel is appropriate. Though I’ve said before that I never leave nothing; I’d rather have my server think I’m spiteful rather than simply forgetful.
In most areas, particular the tourist spots, tipping follows the U.S. model, so plan on 15-20%.
Canada follows the U.S. model, with waitstaff relying on their tips, so 15-20% is the norm for good service.
In Italy a service charge is usually added to your check, though Italians do tip a little bit above the service charge to reward good service. Usually it’s only a euro or two, though in an expensive restaurant it can be some 5% of the check.
Even more than in Italy, France ensures the welfare of their waitstaff by tacking on a service charge to every check. Some people tip a little extra, but it’s usually only a way to get rid of all the coins that come with your change.
A bit of a cross between France and Italy, the Germans add a service fee to your check, but it’s one that meets a rather minimum standard. Tipping above that, by 5% or more, indicates that you’re very satisfied with your service.
Switzerland out-Germans the Germans by including an even more modest service charge in your bill. Like the Germans, even small gratuities above this baseline are considered quite complimentary so an additional 5% or so for good service is in order.
Generally a service charge has been included in your check.
While you might come across service charges in India, particularly in tourist destinations, it’s customary to tip 10-15%. So if you see no service charge, keep that in mind.
Unlike almost every other country, tipping in China is not only rare, but it can be offensive. People pride themselves on their work and are paid accordingly in China, so don’t rock the boat.
To view the photos for this article, go to Around the World in 20 Tips (Part 1).
To see Part 2 of this series, visit Around the World in 20 Tips (Part 2).
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