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Tipping Etiquette & Customs Around the World

The people who work at hotels, restaurants and other establishments that cater to tourists are doing their best amid staffing shortages. So you want to leave a tip for good service.

Here are guidelines for travel within the United States and abroad. Remember to bring some small bills with you.

If a hotel employee helps you with your luggage, tip him or her $1 or $2 per bag. The same guideline applies if you leave your bags with a porter before checking in or after checking out.  The workers who keep your hotel room clean should get $2 to $3 a day, up to $5 for high-end hotels. Be sure to leave the money in an obvious place, like on a pillow or with a note, preferably each day before you leave the room.

Ordering room service may be the best option if you get hungry late at night. A service charge or convenience fee usually goes to the hotel, not to the server. So tip 15 to 20 percent if a gratuity isn’t included.

If your vacation includes a spa treatment, ask at the front desk whether a gratuity is included in the bill. If not, tip 10 to 20 percent for the service.

Tipping Overseas Comes with Different Guidelines

If you’re at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean, check to make sure the staff can accept tips. If they’re allowed, you can leave the housekeeping staff $2 to $3 a day, bag attendants and shuttle drivers $1 or $2 a bag and bartenders $1 to $2 a drink. If you’re dining at a restaurant off the property, leave a tip of 15 to 20 percent.

In Europe, a service charge of 10 to 15 percent is often added to a restaurant bill. If it isn’t, you can leave a gratuity of 5 to 10 percent. It doesn’t have to be the 15 to 20 percent diners in the United States are accustomed to leaving. Even if a service charge is added, rounding up the bill is appreciated.

Tipping for a taxi ride isn’t customary in Europe but if a driver assists you with your luggage, it’s appropriate to tip a pound in the United Kingdom, a couple of euros in France, Italy or Germany, or round up the fare and tell the driver to keep the change. Like a taxi driver, a hotel porter who assists with luggage should also get a tip of a pound in the United Kingdom or a couple of euros on the continent. At hotels, leave a pound or one or two euros for housekeeping.

Unlike the United States or Western Europe, tipping is not part of the culture in Japan. It’s not expected in restaurants, or at hotels or for cab rides. Most hotel employees are trained to politely refuse gratuities and, in fact, offering someone money directly is considered rude.