Whenever you’re visiting another country, whether for business or pleasure, the time will inevitably come when you’ll be confronted with the question of who to tip–or whether you should tip at all.
Tipping etiquette can differ widely from country to country. Having an understanding of who to tip on your travels will not only make your experience abroad more authentic and enjoyable, it will help you avoid embarrassment, especially in business situations.
Tipping Guide Research
Just as you would read up on other customs in the place you’ll be visiting, picking up a travel tipping guide is a very good idea. Few travel situations are more awkward than not knowing who to tip, or how much, in a restaurant or hotel. Doing a bit of research on tipping etiquette ahead of time will give you confidence and make your vacation or business trip a lot more successful.
Most good travel books contain a tipping guide for the countries they cover. Travel tipping guide information is also available online.
When in Doubt, Ask About Local Tipping Etiquette
Even if you’ve done your research on tipping etiquette, there may still be occasions when you’re not sure when, or who, to tip. If your travel tipping know-how doesn’t extend to a particular situation, the best thing to do is ask someone who knows. Hotel desk clerks, maître d’s and receptionists are excellent resources for tipping etiquette.
While it may make you feel slightly uncomfortable asking your hotel’s doorman whether you should tip your taxi driver, doing so will not only help you avoid a potentially embarrassing situation, but also mark you as a culturally sensitive traveler who knows how to behave more like a guest than a tourist.
If you can’t find anyone to be your travel tipping guide, the next best thing to do is to use your good judgment. Most service people will recognize and appreciate that you’re doing your best to adhere to their customs, even if you’re not spot-on in your tipping etiquette.