When to tip while travelling

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Tipping is a must or an insult depending on context. Here’s your guide on when, and when not, to tip.


Standards of service are high and tipping is expected and appreciated throughout the Middle East. In restaurants, a service fee is usually included in the bill and it is also customary to leave between five and 20 per cent for wait staff. Other service staff such as tour guides, taxi drivers and hotel porters will also expect, and sometimes demand, tips. The amount will vary from country to country so do a little online research to make sure you’re not giving too much, or too little.


Africa has some of the least developed countries in the world. Some workers don’t receive salaries and rely on tips as their main source of income. In restaurants, if service is included in the bill, then tip an additional five to 10 per cent to the waiter. Add an extra five per cent if service is not included. Always tip your guide, taxi driver, hotel porter, concierge and housekeeper in cash.


The United States has a strong tipping culture and it’s expected and assumed that service staff will always receive a tip. Allow 15 to 20 per cent at a restaurant and tip any guides, taxi drivers and hotel staff. It is not necessary to tip in cash – if you’re paying by credit card you can add a tip to your charge.

Tipping in Canada follows the same rules as the United States. In Central and South America, tipping is not expected the same way it is in the United States but it is still appreciated. Allow a tip of around 10 per cent at restaurants and round up for taxi drivers and guides.


As with Australia and New Zealand, the tipping culture in Asia is changing as a result of foreign tourists.

In South-East Asia, a tip is not assumed and will often be received with great appreciation.

In China and Japan, tipping can cause offence. If you’re dining or staying in a hotel frequented by locals then don’t leave a tip. If you’re staying in a western hotel and want to leave a tip then be discreet and leave it in an envelope.


To the local Australian or New Zealander, tipping is not expected nor assumed. However, the tourism industry is changing, partly due to American travellers insisting on tipping service staff, and tipping is becoming more widespread. For good restaurant service, consider rounding up the bill or leaving the change. Be polite and discreet, and don’t be surprised if your tip is refused.


Tips often aren’t expected in Europe and it can be confusing for a tourist to figure out how much to leave. If you do tip, either leave the change or add a 10 per cent charge on top of the bill. Some guides work exclusively on tips and they will let you know a suggested amount. Always tip in cash to make sure the service staff receive the amount.

More info. For more travel tips, visit racv.com.au

Written by Amanda Willimott
May 03, 2016