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Five suggestions for tipping on holiday

Kathleen Altmann

In Germany, it is usually customary to tip five to ten percent of the bill as a thank-you for good service. In some countries, however, the standard percentage given as a tip is higher, and in others you might even end up insulting someone by providing a tip. We have collected a list of appropriate tips for a variety of locations, as well as any other peculiarities to watch out for when tipping while on holiday:

In general, you can almost never go wrong by adding a five to ten percent tip when paying for a meal at a restaurant or for a taxi. However, things are a little bit different in the USA and Canada, where a tip of 15 to 20 percent of the bill is not unusual. Do check to see if the tip is included in the bill, in which case there is no need to add more. Porters in Europe receive, on average, 1 euro per piece of luggage, and housekeepers in hotels get tipped an average of 1 to 1.50 euros each day.
In some countries, the standard tip is quite small, but of course there is nothing stopping you from making someone’s day by providing a larger one. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Slovenia. In these countries, it is usually enough to round up the bill as a tip.
Be careful when travelling in Asia: in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, tips may be considered an insult! That’s because in these countries, not offering the best possible service is unthinkable. A gratuity is often included in the price at bars, restaurants and hotels. However, if you still want to show your appreciation, you can take some time to select a small, symbolic present and hand it over personally.
If possible, you should tip in cash – if you put the tip on your card, you can’t be sure that it will actually go to the person you wanted to give it to. Of course, ideally you would tip in the currency of the country you are holidaying in. But in an emergency, many places will also accept US dollars. In  France, Greece and Spain, it is common practice to leave your tip on the bill or table when you leave the restaurant.
And in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland you don’t necessarily have to tip with money. If you find yourself in a local pub and want to show your appreciation to the staff, you can offer to buy a drink for the person behind the bar – it’s a common practice there.

Another interesting idea: have you heard of a “Caffè sospeso”? The idea of a ‘suspended coffee’ has its origins in Neapolitan culture. To engage in this tradition, simply order and pay for a second coffee along with your own. You aren’t buying two coffees for yourself; you are doing something nice for someone who cannot afford a coffee themselves. Your barista will donate the second coffee to the next needy person who asks for one.