Leaving a tip can be confusing because the rules vary from one country to another. While it is impolite to leave a tip in some of them, it is very wrong to leave them in others.
Here’s what you need to know.
Always have money in local currency.
Being an organized traveler means having enough local money on your hands to cover any planned or unexpected expenses. It is essential to be able to pay tips in local currency because changing foreign currencies costs service providers a lot of money and it is very likely that they are not even allowed to do so. It is also often impossible to add a tip when paying with a credit card.
Know when not to tip
In some countries (such as Japan, China, South Korea or French Polynesia), staff may be offended to be offered a tip because service excellence is an integral part of the culture there.
If you tip Japanese Ryokan staff, a taxi driver or a tour guide, for example, be sure to place the tickets in a card or envelope and hand them over with both hands and bow your head.
In French Polynesia, tips are almost perceived as rudeness because they indicate that the person receiving them occupies a lower status. Even if you’ve received excellent service, the tip is not welcome. If in doubt, please refrain.
Leave a tip only for a service received
In India, for example, make sure you have received a service in exchange for a tip. Some beggars ask for alms, but giving them money sends a wrong message. As it is an impoverished country, try to buy them something or hire them to do a small job, if you feel compelled to give them money.
Check your bill before you leave a tip.
In the United Kingdom, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Portugal, France and many other countries, restaurants, hotels and other establishments already add service charges for most of their services.
And check if the bill includes a “service charge,” as opposed to a “tax” on service before you think you have been billed for the tip. A service “fee” does not go to servers. A small clarification concerning Brazil:”Although tips are not necessary, they are nevertheless desirable because of the very modest salaries,” notes Dan Boland. In general, people who work in tourist destinations have become accustomed to Canadians leaving some money behind.
When can you leave more?
In Iceland, as in many European countries, a tip is not required in most cases. Restaurants will often include a 10% service charge on the bill, which means you don’t have to leave a tip, but you can leave 15% if you’ve received exceptional service. Taxi drivers, hairdressers and tour guides add an amount to their bills to cover service charges.
Although many European countries do not have a tipping culture, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and a few other countries are the exception. In Greece, when dining out at a restaurant or taking a taxi, a tip of 5 to 10% depending on the service is highly appreciated. It is also well worth giving a few euros to your maid at the hotel and your tour guide.