If tipping etiquette in the U.S. seem mysterious, the problem for overseas travelers is often doubly vexing because the rules vary by country and sometimes even by city.
To avoid overpaying or insulting a service provider on your next trip, it’s worthwhile to do a little research before you go and pay attention to your bills and your money when traveling. Here are some tips:
- Research tipping customs before you go: Many guidebooks spell out tipping customs, but you can also just Google “[Country or city name] tipping” to find more details.
- Familiarize yourself with the currency: Tipping errors often occur when you arrive in a destination without knowing the currency or the exchange rate. It’s all too easy to hand over a bill that’s too large or too small if you’re not careful or don’t know the appropriate dollar conversion amount. Carry a calculator or make up a conversion cheat sheet if you’re not a math whiz.
- Check the bill before you pay: In many restaurants in Europe and South America, the service fee is automatically included in the bill. Always read over the itemized receipt to see if this charge is listed before leaving any extra money.
- If you can, be more generous in poor countries: There’s often a worry that you’ll spoil the locals in a poor place by giving handouts. However, if you’re leaving $10 for a $7 dinner, that’s not really going overboard and the extra money will certainly be appreciated by people who don’t often see much benefit from mass tourism.
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