How much to leave as a tip is a question that often leads to debate. Even more so while travelling, because of the widely differing local customs that exist even within a country. It’s hard to strike the right balance between showing your appreciation and giving more than is necessary. We’ve put down tipping estimates across countries; of course,exact rates vary depending on factors such as the quality of service and establishment. We also spoke to frequent travellers to help you make a more informed decision.
Neha Dara, Deputy Editor, National Geographic Traveller India
“For public transport commute within a city in India, I do not tip taxi or auto rickshaw drivers, except in the case of exemplary service. While taking a long-distance cab, if I’m stopping for a meal, or to buy water or snacks, I like to purchase something for the driver as well. I also add a tip at the end. When I am out of the country, however, things work differently. Each country has its code of conduct so I generally check with a local when I get in. In New Zealand for example, tips are not normally expected. However, I always think it’s nice to add something, especially when the service has been attentive and friendly. In New York, on the other hand, tipping is de rigueur and it is about 20 per cent. You might think a $1 on a $9 cab ride is fair, but the cabbie will make his displeasure known.”
Natasha Sahgal, Travel Writer
“Tipping can be very uncomfortable if you’re not prepared at the right time. This is why I always do some research before entering a restaurant, or letting anyone carry my bags. Countries like the US (20 per cent), Australia (15 per cent), and UK (10 per cent) have very standard tipping policies that are sometimes mentioned on the menu, or added to the bill. I had a hard time in South East Asia since no one openly talks about tips. Everyone was hospitable and the service was always so personal that I actually felt awkward to give a tip, like it would belittle their service. I left tips anyway and they were always happily accepted. I stuck to the average of 15 per cent whenever I was unsure but would add more for exceptional service.”
Vahishta Mistry, Travel Writer
“I do my research about the country’s tipping etiquette. In India, I tip around 10 per cent or not at all unless the service has been exceptional. In the US, where I am right now, I tip between 15 and 25 per cent as is the norm.”
Manu Kashyap, Owner of Windmill Holidays
“We collect tips from travellers before departure to some destinations in Europe. Concerns arise only for FIT [Free Independent Travellers] travellers. I think it should be mandatory to keep people motivated, and if you think the service is outstanding, feel free to pay more.”
When travelling in India, our columnist, Rishad Saam Mehta, tips a maximum of ₹200, regardless of what the bill is.
Here’s a list of tipping expectations in countries across the world. Drivers are for taxis within cities, and guides are tour guides.