Tipping for services rendered while you’re traveling is customary in the U.S., but not so much in countries like Japan and Brazil, among others. But if you’re traveling to distant lands -- or even to a different U.S. state -- this summer, it’s helpful to know a few rules of the road when it comes to gratuities.
Start with these tips to manage your gratuity needs when traveling this summer.
Know the appropriate tipping ranges. The average tip for a sit-down meal in the U.S. still stands at between 15% and20%. For taxis and Uber (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report rides, tipping amounts vary due to mileage and total costs. One study from The National Bureau of Economic Research shows that the average tip for an Uber ride is $3.
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Tip Early and Often
Pay upfront for quality service. It doesn't take much to be unforgettable and upfront tips open doors.
“A $20 to the receptionist at the hotel or flight attendant almost always ensures that you get the best room they have or your drink never goes dry on the flight,” said Taylor Kovar, a certified financial planner, and CEO at The Money Couple in Lufkin, Texas. (Kovar just finished a cross-country trip to all 50 states with his family.)
For foreign travel, do your due diligence. When traveling overseas, a quick Google search will save you a ton of time, money, and embarrassment. “If Google says tipping isn't customary, don't tip, it's offensive,” Kovar said.
Make housekeeping tips a priority. The least tipped people in any hotel, the chambermaids/housekeepers, are the hardest working and probably the worst paid.
“I make sure to tip the chambermaids because I was one -- that was my start in the travel business,” said Leslie Overton, director of travel operations at Fora in New York, N.Y. “Consequently, whenever I'm someplace foreign, I always take out cash and then get change from the front desk and set the chambermaid tip in my makeup bag.”
“It's the last thing I pack so before I stick it in my suitcase, I know to leave the tip for housekeeping,” Overton added.
When to Tip in Europe
In Europe, know when and when not to tip. Tipping in general is not customary in Italy, for example, but it is appreciated, says Katy Clarke, founder of Untold Italy, an online destination for Italy travelers.
Clarke offers some specific tips for European (especially Italy) travelers.
- At restaurants Italians round up to the nearest €5 or €10. However, where service, is included, additional tipping is not required
- Scenarios where you should tip for great service: tour guides, driving services, restaurants
- Scenarios where tipping is not required: taxis, hotel housekeeping
- American travelers are sometimes told “tip not included” because those in the tourist industry know it is standard in the U.S.
Err on the side of being generous. Tipping while traveling doesn't have to be a complicated process. “If you received great service and tipping is common in the culture, feel free to leave more than enough,” said Mark Morgan, co-founder at WhereAreThoseMorgans.com, an online travel site. (Morgan and his wife have traveled to over 40 countries in the past several years.)
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Consider gratuities in your travel budget. Budgeting can be extremely important if you plan to travel in countries like the U.S., where tipping is required. “You’ll quickly eat through your travel budget if you didn’t put enough aside for tips throughout your trip,” Morgan added.
Bring small bills (and even coins) for your tips. “With several small bills and coins, you’ll easily be able to leave a tip without having to worry about breaking larger bills,” Morgan said.