I'm currently soaking in my last two days of my Key West vacation. The sun, the sand, the water. It's been such a great change of pace from this snowy Maine winter. Although I'm traveling domestically, I'd like to lay down a few key points when it comes to tipping while traveling.
In the United States we are all accustom to a certain way of tipping. It usually runs from 15%-20% at restaurants, $1-$2 per bag for bellhops, and 10%-15% for a taxis. Read my "How-Tuesday: Tipping Properly" for more information on leaving tips in the United States.
However, when traveling abroad the same expectations for tipping are not universal. While I was studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college the first taxi ride I ever took I over tipped the driver by at least 10 euros. He looked at me with his eyes bugged and tried to hand some of the money back. Although he was grateful he was pretty stunned.
So, what do I to tip?
If you're traveling abroad in the near future, be sure to check this article, "What to tip, 77 countries" from USA Today. It's a great guide so you don't feel like you're over tipping or under tipping.
Here are three examples I found interesting:
- In Mexico for a restaurant 10%-15% is acceptable and only $1 per bag. A taxi ride is about 50 cents in tips.
- If you are planning a trip to Australia only tip 10% in a fine dinning restaurant only, $2 per bag and for the taxis just round up your fare.
- And in Japan, tipping at a restauarnt is insulting. So be aware of the various cultures you are encountering.
Also be aware of the currency exchange. When I went to Prague, Czech Republic the currency was in about $1 USD to 19 CHZ Koruna. When I withdrew money from an ATM the bills were in 1,000s. I nearly had a heart attack at first thinking I accidentally withdrew my entire savings! (The picture to the right is an actually photo I took with Czech currency.)