Tipping in Restaurants

Tipping is changing around the world. When I first started traveling internationally, I luckily went to a country that is culturally different from the United States regarding tipping, so I learned fast. At that time it was considered rude not to directly hand your waitperson the tip. Now it seems like that practice is no longer practiced. Now Hungarian restaurants usually include a 12.5% service charge on your bill, so if you hand a waiter or waitress an additional amount they will either think themselves exceptional servers or that you are an outsider who didn’t learn the customs. As a general rule today, it’s wise to check the customs at your destinations on the internet before leaving home. Even then you will probably get it wrong.

When Ruth & I first went regularly to Canada, a 10% tip was customary in restaurants. Now 15% is expected and 20% is routine for exceptional service, which is always difficult to gauge. Now it’s always a good idea to check to see if a service charge was added to your bill. If it has been, no additional tip other than a couple of coins is usually deemed acceptable. This is generally true in Brazil and Greece. In some places like Germany and Sweden, 10% tips are still customary. In Spain, tip one or two Euros for a casual meal, and it is still customary there to hand the tip directly to your server. In some places leaving a tip on the table is a sign that you are done and leaving even if you were expecting change from a large bill. Be careful!

Tipping becomes frustrating in places like Africa where tips are economically important because people tend to be poor. Because a server might be depending on tips as part of his salary I have been told, tipping can easily become similar to begging. Some say it discourages young people from getting an education, but that assumes that your server would be in school if it were not for people like you giving them tips.

Then there are no tip countries like Russia, where there is no expectation for a tip. In Japan there is no tipping. In fact, you can insult a server by insisting on tipping, and your tip might be actively refused. Tipping is not customary in Thailand, South Korea, and India. Tipping is not yet a cultural practice in most of Asia.

In Australia, servers are well-paid, so an additional 10% is considered the norm. Our good Australian friend Robert used to bristle with anger when it came time to tip anywhere. He was very anti-tipping.

Then there are tips at spas and for taxis, tours, and hotel services. It all gets very confusing, and I have come to the conclusion that whatever I do is probably wrong even if I have checked for the current practices in advance of travel.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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