How to Tip Abroad

Tipping rules when you travel internationally

Whether you find yourself at a café in Paris or in a cab in Morocco, a resort in Anguilla or a tour in Reykjavik, you’re going to come across opportunities to tip service workers when you travel.

But tipping etiquette can be tricky when you leave the States. What’s commonplace on this side of the pond isn’t the norm in other destinations.

“Very few places tip the way we do here,” says Kristin Addis, the founder and CEO of Be My Travel Muse. “Culturally, tipping is such a big part of our culture, but it is not a thing in many other places.”

Anne and Mike Howard, authors of two travel books and founders of, along with Addis, offer a few tips and tricks for how to tip abroad.

Where tips are expected

There are a few places around the world that have similar tipping practices to the States.

For instance, Canada and the Middle East have some of the most generous tipping cultures, according to the Howards.

Service professionals in destinations that see a lot of American tourists, such as certain places in Mexico — Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, for instance — might also appreciate or even expect tips.

“Anywhere they’ve started to get a lot of American tourists, they’re getting used to tips,” Addis says.

Where tips aren’t expected

If the U.S., Canada, and the Middle East have some of the most generous tipping cultures, Europe, Asia and Oceania have some of the least, according to the Howards.

In Australia, for instance, servers at restaurants make somewhere in the range of $20 per hour, so they’re not reliant on tips like American servers are, according to Addis.

So, while they might not refuse your generous tip, they might not expect it either.

When not to tip

There are some places where tipping is not advised.

“In Asia, generally you don’t tip at all,” Addis says. “It’s even something I would advise against in China specifically because it’s almost taken as a rude gesture.”

The Howards would also recommend not tipping in Japan.

“Japan is one of the few places that might refuse a tip because they believe good service is duty,” Howard says.

Countries like Spain, Sweden, France, Hungary and Czech Republic add a service charge to the bill, so tipping more than 5% is not expected, the Howards explain.

What percentage to tip

There’s no easy answer to what percentage to tip when you’re abroad.

Abroad, professionals in the service industry are typically tipped 5% to 10% — with the lower end of that range given to professionals who receive higher hourly wages or a portion of the service charge included on the bill.

However, the Howards suggest taking a generous stance when it’s appropriate.

“It’s hard to know if that person is being fairly compensated, how much they personally depend on tips or how many other employees they have to share them with,” Anne Howard says. “To combat this, at minimum, round up your bill, give a little something to a porter or valet, and give extra when the service is exceptional, no matter the vocation.”

What to tip travel guides

When it comes to tipping travel guides wherever you are in the world, it’s best to ask ahead of time about the tipping practices.

For instance, Addis says that one of the only times that you would tip in China is with tour guides since they rely heavily on tips for their income.

“Guides are in their own category and depend on how the company is structured, so it’s good to ask the boss (or someone other than the guide) before you go on your tour if it’s customary to tip and to what degree,” Mike Howard says.

How to tip in Europe

Europe (in addition to Asia and Oceania) probably has some of the world’s least generous tipping cultures, according to the Howards.

“At a restaurant, you’d round up,” Addis says. “You’d leave your change.”

When it comes to tipping at bars, it’s up to your discretion.

“Bartenders in Europe aren’t as used to getting tips,” Addis says. “However, sometimes if you do tip, it ensures good service.”

How to tip when you’re on the spot

It happens. Sometimes you’re on the spot without a clue on how to tip. What to do then? When in doubt, take a hint, say the Howards.

“Take a tipping cue from the change you’re given,” Anne Howard says. “If a person wants a tip, they’ll likely give you smaller change to make that easier to do. If you get back a larger denomination without them saying a word, a tip probably isn’t expected.”

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