Travel: The Tipping Point, Or Playing The Percentages

June 4, 2023


Paying attention to tipping etiquette can make a holiday in a foreign country less awkward and more rewarding for all concerned. Travel experts from Panache Cruises suggest the following guide.


United Kingdom

Tipping is not expected in the UK because everyone is paid a legal national minimum wage. Brits have a reputation for being bad tippers as there is no accustomed tipping culture or rules, so tipping is very casual and utterly dependent on how the customer feels about the service they received. Higher-end restaurants may add on a service charge, which can be removed if not satisfied. No one will be offended if there is no tip but will equally be grateful if they receive one, whether in a hair salon, taxi or restaurant.



Tipping is embedded in American culture, especially since employers in many American states are entitled to pay waiting staff below minimum wage, so customers are expected to make up their wages with generous tips. Low hourly wages mean that failing to tip can seem personal, so as a general rule of thumb, 15-20% of the bill is the good tipping start point and 30% for top-notch service. It’s also expected that taxi drivers, hairdressers, beauty therapists, porters and those who deliver food should receive a fee for their services in the USA.



Tipping is common and expected for good service in Europe, so holidaymakers should bring change. In some parts of Europe, like France, a service charge will be included in the bill, but tipping with extra euros will still be welcomed. Cover charges will be called a variety of different things so always have a translation app or guidebook to hand to properly comprehend the charges. Expect to pay between 5-15% as a polite gesture to servers and staff, or round up to the nearest 5 or 10 euros. Tips in many areas of Europe, such as Greece and Spain, can help to supplement wages, so if tourists feel the service has been excellent, it is always good to tip.



Many Asian countries don’t see tipping as usual, typical or expected unless in a popular tourist spot. Tourist guides or taxi drivers may welcome a small tip, but there is no long-standing tradition of tipping culture; it has simply grown with Western tourism. In some parts of Asia, it can be seen as an insult to tip, so the rules and scenarios vary greatly. Tourists in Japan, and parts of China, may even be chased down by servers to return the money. Tipping is much more common in areas like Thailand, where tipping 10% is fair and welcomed. Before travelling around Asia, do research to avoid a kind gesture being misconstrued.



Although not expected, tipping is appreciated in Australia, but there are no rules. Tourists are not obligated to tip, and Australian establishments don’t tend to add extra charges to the bill for service. The tipping culture down under is relaxed as it doesn’t directly affect workers’ pay. However, if the service exceeds expectations, tipping 10% would be appreciated, although staff would reportedly prefer to be greeted with respect and good humour instead.


The Middle East

In the Middle East, especially in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, servers are used to receiving a tip of around 15-20%. Even when a service charge has been added, workers expect a bonus, whether in a restaurant or hotel. Service in the Middle East tends to go above and beyond what is expected, which is why tipping is expected. Remember to give tips discreetly in line with their culture.