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Outside’s $1 Tipping Rule

How do know what the tipping rules are when you’re in another country? Greg Melville at Outside has this rule of thumb:

Again, you really should know the customs of a place before you go there, but if you’re in a bind, apply the $1 rule. That’s $1 for a bellhop per bag (if you’re traveling in style), $1 a day for hotel cleaning staff, $1 for a local taxi ride, $1 for every $10 on your restaurant bill, and about $1 per hour for a group tour guide for a day (though more if the guide is a private one, taking you on an active adventure like fishing, skiing, hiking, or a safari).

I try to look up this sort of information before I travel, but I’ll also arrive in a country and irrationally think, but what if the rules have changed? Also, people have a tendency to disagree.


9 Comments / Post A Comment

BornSecular (#2,245)

I feel pretty ok with how I tip at restaurants, but the other stuff?! It makes me have a mini-panic attack! Like, I would rather haul my own bags than have to tip. I also did not know it was a Thing we are Supposed to Do, the tipping hotel cleaning staff. How did I get to be this age without knowing this? I don’t think my parents did it when I was a kid, or I just didn’t notice? How does one even handle that?

@BornSecular My parents always tip hotel cleaning staff. I have no idea how common it is, but they leave a couple dollars out on the pillow every morning. I try to also, but I stay in hotels so rarely that usually I only remember it when I’m actually in the hotel and have no small bills.

I’ve never stayed at a hotel with bellhops so I don’t expect that to be an issue basically ever, but I did learn you’re supposed to tip them from Home Alone 2.

@Lorelei@twitter to clarify, that is in the US that they (and I) tip hotel cleaning staff.

@Lorelei@twitter Oh! I always left a few bucks (usually $1-2 per person per night) on the dresser at the end of the stay. I could see how doing it every day could be helpful.

Just got back from Argentina where the only English the taxi driver spoke from the airport to Buenos Aires was “Tip for driving?”

I guess my biggest fear is being seen as rude. I don’t wanna be the guy who under tips but I also don’t wanna be the guy who tips in a city that sees it as rude to tip at all.

The $1 tipping rule is generally a good rule of thumb, but I always get that feeling like “Oh how very colonialistic of you” for assuming everyone in the world loves getting US$.

@forget it i quit Also, look out for service fees or tips that are already included on the bill. In Chile, for the first time ever, I ran into a “table fee” which the waiter explained as a fee for the napkins, silverware and bread!

Alice (#392)

@forget it i quit I think it should be the local equivalent of $1. Giving US currency in most countries is a pain in the ass – for small amounts, going to the bank to convert it won’t even be worth it, so you’re essentially giving them a pretty (and worthless) piece of paper.

So, in the UK tip £1, in Europe it’s €1 (those are both slightly more than $1, but you know what I mean). Even in Canada, tip with Canadian dollars, not American ones.

The service charge is a thing that happens in the UK too – some restaurants include 10% or 12.5% on your bill, but there will also be a space for a tip on your credit card receipt, so you have to be wary of tipping twice. I think a lot of tourists fall into that trap.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@forget it i quit Haha, that was an annoying thing I ran into SEVERAL times in France. It’s not the LOCAL custom to tip, but some places have gotten it in their heads that AMERICANS tip. So, if you don’t tip American-style, they STILL think you’re rude (even though locals dining one table over would leave the customary one or two euros). It was really frustrating to spend so much time reading into local tipping customs, wanting to do it “right”, and still have folks pursing their lips at you when they picked up the bill. Argh American tipping culture! So annoying!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@forget it i quit I think that was actually the “gringo” fee. I had cab drivers assume I didn’t speak Spanish or live in Chile and they would try to ask for a tip and I would ask them in Chilean Spanish if that was normal. It would embarrass the hell out of them. And once in Argentina, a bunch of kids came to my bus to pull off luggage and demand tips. I told them to get lost, I could get my own bag. Don’t worry about being rude to rudeness. Those people were taking advantage of you.

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