“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Tuesday January 16th 2018

Tipping Etiquette When Traveling

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Who Should I Tip

I’ve included a list of travel related service professionals you should consider tipping – assuming it is appropriate in the location(s) you are traveling.  The list is not all-inclusive and is only travel related (your Barber should get a tip but you generally don’t see him when you travel).

Should Tip

  • Taxis Cab Drivers
  • Waiters/Bartenders
  • Hotel Personnel – Excluding front desk staff – but certainly concierge, room service, cleaning, etc.
  • Baggage Handlers – Anyone that handles your bags at the airport or hotel.  Note that some airlines actually charge for any form of baggage handling not done at the ticket counter.  The irony here is they started charging because baggage handlers weren’t getting tips (and they are greedy).  By charging a fee; fewer people take advantage of the service. Seems like the airlines need to take an Economics 101 class – but I digress…..
  • Tour Guides – Yes, above and beyond what you’ve already paid for the ridiculously expensive tour.

Don’t Tip

  • Government Employees – Is considered bribery almost everywhere in the world – however – bribery isn’t a crime everywhere in the world.  In fact, you may actually be extorted by government employees in some countries.  I will post an article on this soon.
  • Fast Food – Unless someone is bringing food to your table – you know – like ‘service’ – they don’t need a tip.  I don’t care what message I’m supposed to get from that “Tip Jar” you put in front of me.  Some people feel the folks who make these ridiculous concoctions in Starbucks deserve a tip – I’ll let you decide.
  • Bad Service – Whenever you didn’t get good service.
  • Non professional Assistance – Someone on the street giving directions or current time.

The American Factor

With the ease and relative affordability of travel, many more Americans are traveling across the globe – whether it is for vacation or business.  This means more and more locales are exposed to American culture and customs.  Unfortunately, one of the byproducts of this is many locations take on Western style customs when dealing with tourists – particularly when it comes to tipping.  For example, in Japan – tipping is not the norm throughout the countryside; however, if you are eating dinner at the Tokyo Hilton (an American hotel chain) – expect to see a service charge or a ‘friendly’ reminder that tipping is appreciated.  In short, if you will be traveling to destinations or properties that cater to Western & European travelers – follow the Western custom and add 10% – 20% gratuity.


These few highlights should help you avoid some awkward situations:

  1. Use the Region and or Country list above (click Print icon).  If the list isn’t available, “When in Rome – do as the Romans”.
  2. Understand the American factor – if in a Western owned property (or location that caters to that demographic) – expect Western customs.  If you go outside of these locations, follow the guide.
  3. Remember ‘gratuity’ is a form of thank you.  If you have truly received bad service – don’t tip.  But if you did receive good service – don’t be a Jerk!
  4. Over tipping is usually seen a flaunting your wealth – a perception assigned to most Americans (we don’t realize the culture difference).  Remember, cultures differ and more isn’t always better.  Use the guide above!
  5. Finally, for my US service industry friends.  Stop whining!  Some people don’t know, can’t afford, or are too cheap to tip.  Tipping isn’t mandatory – it’s a gratuity.  If u want guaranteed money – move to France or go be an Accountant!

Happy Travels!!

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