How not to slip on tips

3 Minute Read

It sends a shiver up the spine of even the most experienced traveller. Mostly because there is no hard and fast rule. No holy grail of gratuity. Fear not. With our guide to upping your tipping etiquette, you’ll avoid those awkward ‘should I/ shouldn’t I’ scenarios once and for all.

Happy Cabbie
Hailed a taxi? Be prepared to hand over a tip of 10% in most cases. Add $1 per bag if the driver lugged around your luggage for you. Some cities, such as New York, add ‘default-tipping’ amounts of up to 30%. Nice try. But unless it’s Marty McFly in the Delorean, override that default and stick to the 10%. For ride-sharing services, such as Uber, there’s no need.

Be Our Guest
From grabbing you a cab, to bringing an emergency toothbrush up to your room, service staff in hotels should be tipped $1-$2. For housekeeping; a few dollars a day and a thank you note goes a long way.  

Preparation Pays
“I only have a twenty” and a shoulder shrug is no excuse. Ever. Get in the habit of carrying small notes. Most establishments are more than happy to swap larger notes for change if you get stuck. Remember, manners go along way when you’re abroad.

Check the bill
Beware the service charge. For a lot of us, we simply scan the bill, go to the total and throw on a tip. However, in some European countries and throughout all of South America, a service charge is automatically added to the bill and actually takes the place of the tip. While in other countries like Hong Kong, the service charge won’t make it to the waiter’s pocket, so a tip needs to be added on top of the service charge.    

Beware the Tip Jar
Tips jars are by no means a form of mandatory gratitude, so there’s no chance you’ll be considered a stooge if you don’t go near it. The haul is usually shared amongst all staff members. Many of whom don’t rely on tips or have any impact on how friendly the waitperson was to you today. Why not go the classic tip in hand or a simple thank you to show your appreciation?  

Do your research
Save yourself the awkwardness and spend some time doing research about your travel destination. Google it, read a travel book or chat to a friend who’s been there before. If you’re still not satisfied you’ve got the tipping rules down, watch and learn. Spot a local and observe what they do.  
Of course, there will always be moments of tip-uncertainty. Concierge? Up to you. The Vegas wedding Elvis impersonator? Your call. So, when in doubt, the best bet - well, it’s always better to ask.