Tipping Etiquette varies from country to country and is most often different than customary North American standards. My best advice is "know-before-you-go." A little research, and guidance by a Travel Professional will help you to avoid awkward moments or being perceived as a rude traveller.
As well as the country you're visiting, how much to tip at restaurants may vary. Restaurants and pubs often post their Menu outside the entrance of their establishment or on their website. If you are dining in a group of six guests or more, review the fine print as there may a mandatory gratuity added to the bill. Recommended guidelines will differ if you're dining a la carte, buffet style or ordering take-out .
In countries where tipping for restaurant service is considered a faux-pas this isn't necessarily the same for other hospitality staff. Be sure you know the protocol for tipping hotel employees. I like to tip housekeeping staff daily — leaving it on the pillow or handing it to the housekeeper directly. This ensures the correct individual receives the tip. Remember the services of bellmen, shuttle drivers, and the Concierge.
I have a two-fold plan when travelling to a foreign country. I arrive with the local currency of the country, ensuring I have a supply of smaller denominations, which is perfect for tipping. Secondly, I include at least a small hand-full of U.S. one dollar bills. This practise usually covers all the bases. When travelling within Canada I stock up on Loonies and Toonies before leaving home.
In some countries Tour Guides require a University degree, whereas other countries your Guide may be a student earning their way through school. An exceptional Guide can elevate your experience to remarkable and on the other hand they can also create a 'lackluster' experience. When tipping your Tour Guide, know the suggested guidelines, and follow your heart. Showing your gratitude by including a little extra is always appreciated. If you've been thrilled with your Guide and he or she was outstanding at their job, be mindful that grossly over tipping can be misconstrued as a "hand-out." Find the right balance to acknowledge your Guide; they will feel good and so will you.
Regardless of the size of the tip, the person assisting you or providing a service is a real person. Even if you stumble with an unfamiliar language "Please" and "Thank you" never go out of style, your intentions will be understood and appreciated.
Your Travel Professional at Mountain City Travel will answer your "What's appropriate to tip questions". Email email@example.com or call 250-427-2233. From the Window Seat is written by Diane Manson of Mountain City Travel in Kimberley.