Tipping etiquette across the world
While tipping is often seen as voluntary here in the UK, things are very different in other countries across the globe. In some places, leaving a tip is expected, while in others, the amount that is given in the UK may be far too much or far too little.
Tipping in the USA
In the US tipping is a given: around 15% or more is the norm for restaurants and taxis, while $1 to $2 per bag is common for porters at airports, hotels and train stations, and the same amount is considered sufficient for parking attendants, hotel maids and hotel room service employees. In Canada, the tipping situation is very similar to that of the US.
Tipping in Japan
In Japan, things are very different. Here, tipping is incredibly uncommon, and can even be viewed as rude - especially if money is handed over directly. Tour guides and tour bus drivers, however, should be offered a tip of roughly £5 for a half day tour or £10 for a full day tour - but ensure that this tip is presented in a sealed envelope, rather than visible cash.
Tipping in the Far East
Elsewhere in the Far East, customs vary. Tipping is not expected in China, but this is a country where tourists generally pay more for their goods, meals and services thanks to government policy. It is more acceptable in Hong Kong, though - a country where many restaurants will add a 10% service charge, and where both restaurant and taxi payments are often rounded up in the case of good service. Singapore is similar, although some will choose to add an extra 10% in restaurants - on top of the 10% service charge - if service has been exceptional. Head over to Thailand, though, and tips are discretionary (not expected), and are always appreciated.
Tipping in Europe
Even within Europe, practices vary from country to country. The French include a 15% service charge in restaurants and bars, but rounding up your bill is appreciated. In Germany, an extra 5 to 10% on top of the service charge is customary for good service, and no tips are expected in Italy, but feel free to leave a small token for good service and to tip taxi drivers 5-10% of the cost of your fare.
Tipping in the Caribbean
If you're staying at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort, you may well find that tipping is actively discouraged: often, these places will include tips in your initial holiday cost. Australia and New Zealand are two further countries that have no tipping culture, but if you are enjoying an African break, you may wish to tip between 10% and 15% at restaurants (if a service charge is not already included), and tip at least £6 a day to game rangers if you are travelling in a shared vehicle, or double this amount for a private vehicle.
Many travellers make huge mistakes when it comes to tipping on their travels, as they are not aware of local customs. The key is to do your research beforehand, which will help you to avoid your trip becoming tainted by any awkwardness.