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tipping tour guides america

Should You Tip US Tour Guides? (Simple Formula)

Figuring out what to tip a tour guide is not always so straightforward.

But there are some ways to break down your travel experience that can help you intelligently decide on a number to tip (or not to tip).

Below is a breakdown that may help you arrive had a good tipping number for tour guides. (This will be mostly applicable in the US since tipping is not so customary in other countries.)

Table of Contents

General tour guide tipping formula

I would generally recommend to tip your tour guides between 5% to 15% depending on the range of relevant factors that I discuss below.

What is the actual cost of your tour?

Sometimes, you might be turned off by the suggested tip amount when you look at the percentage of your total tour cost.

In these cases, it can really help to break down the different components of your tour so that you can properly assess the right tipping percentage.

The idea is just to tip based on the value of work that the tour guide actually did.

For example, if you booked a bear viewing tour in Alaska that cost $1,000 but $600 of that was just covering airfare then the effective value of your tour guide’s service is $400.

It would make more sense to base your tip on $400 which might make tipping 10% to 15% much more doable for you .

Typically, you would subtract items from your total for things like: meals, entrance fees/permits, transportation, and lodging.

Once you have figured out the actual cost of your tour, then you can decide on if you want to tip based on a percentage or a flat rate.

Tour guide tipping formula

This simple formula will help you come up with appropriate tips for your tour guides.

I’ll explain how it works in detail below but essentially you assume a baseline tip of 5% and then add an additional % based on what the tour guide had to offer.

There are five factors I consider:

Safety (+2%)

Education (+2%).

  • Entertainment (+2%)

Length (+2%)

  • Over and beyond (+2% or more)

The idea is that you just quickly tally up what factors apply to your tour and then that gives you the percentage number to go with. You can then round up or down to make things easy.

Note that I have placed 2% by each of these factors but you can come up with a percentage that makes sense for you and your budget.

I’ll show you a quick example so you can see how this formula works out.

Let’s say I’m going on a tour in a glow worm cave in New Zealand.

The tour guide is competent and safely navigates us one hour through the cave while educating us on the local ecosystems and some of the natural scenery surrounding us.

The guide is not particularly entertaining and I don’t really get the sense that he is going above and beyond for us in any capacity.

I’m probably going to give him the baseline 5% plus extra points for safety and education. That means that I’d be looking to tip out about 10% with a tendency to round down.

The percentages can help you determine how much to tip but sometimes those percentages can add up to a pretty huge chunk if you were doing a particularly expensive tour.

For that reason, you may want to just offer a flat rate tip.

Let’s say that your total tour was $1,000.

If you apply the above formula and came out to a 15% tip, maybe $150 is a little bit too expensive of a tip for you. So in this case you simply place the ceiling on the tip at maybe $50 or $100.

If you are tipping at a flat rate I would try to keep your tip to at least at or above 5% of your actual tour cost.

Breaking down the tipping formula

Baseline (5%).

A good baseline tip for tour guides of all types is 5% of the total cost.

If the tour was very cheap then try to just tip at minimum of $2 since $1 tips don’t always go over well.

I like to add an additional 2% whenever my safety is in the hands of a tour guide. This would be the case on things like a boat tour, helicopter tour, scuba dive, etc.

If my life could be in jeopardy due to a poor performance by the operator then that means I’m adding 2% to the formula.

At the same time, if your safety is at stake and the tour guide shows a lack of regard for it, that could be a reason for completely removing a tip.

For example, you might be on a scuba dive and having equipment issues but your dive instructor does not seem to have a regard for your safety or maybe they are nowhere to be found.

tipping tour guides america

If the tour guide provides a quality educational experience then I add an additional 2% to the tip formula.

This is often the case on walking tours, food tours, historic site tours, gardens, etc.

If you feel like your knowledge has been enriched after a tour that is a good sign that you should add 2% for the education bonus.

Sometimes I do a lot of research before visiting a location and I don’t necessarily learn a lot but I recognize that the guide was pouring out interesting knowledge left and right and so I will still add the bonus.

tipping tour guides america

Entertaining (+2%)

Some tour guides are more charismatic than others and provide for a more entertaining experience. These tour guides create good vibes and the time can just fly when they are doing what they do.

If your tour guide has you constantly cracking up throughout the tour or just really interested in what he or she is saying, then that’s a good reason to reward them with an extra 2% and consider more for going above and beyond.

tipping tour guides america

I’ll usually add on a couple of percentage points if the tour guide is offering his or her services for an extended period of time.

This is especially true if the tour guide has to be “on” at pretty much all times.

We once did an airboat tour in the Everglades and we had an excellent tour guide who took us through all sorts of different areas. The tour only lasted a couple of hours but he had to be on point during that entire time so that we didn’t crash and end up as gator soup.

That type of focus can be taxing so I like to reward it whenever I can.

Over and beyond (+?%)

When a tour guide goes over and beyond, I believe you should reward them with some additional points.

These situations arise whenever a tour guide is doing whatever they can to help you out even if that means doing things that don’t fall within their job description.

I’ll give some examples of these below to give you an idea what I’m talking about but this is usually something pretty easy to spot.

Bad experience (-?%)

Every now and again you may have a very bad experience on a tour which would justify reducing your tip or even completely avoiding giving a tip.

The biggest reasons why I would decide to NOT leave a tip for a tour guide as if:

  • They were rude
  • incompetent/negligent
  • company made some type of misrepresentation

Rude or inconsiderate

I try to be fair when it comes to tour guides because it can be a pretty difficult job when dealing with lots of people. But some tour guides can get pretty inconsiderate when herding groups of tourists around.

Incompetent/negligent

As mentioned above, when you feel like your safety is at risk because the tour guide is incompetent, that’s a good sign that you should not tip.

In fact, you should report them to management so that you can reduce the risk of something happening to other travelers in the future.

Misrepresentations

Sometimes the tour company misrepresents what they are going to offer you.

For example, I have called ahead to book tours and asked if we would be able to access certain sites only for tour companies to exaggerate what they can do or fail to take the time to verify things. This has led to some pretty big disappointments.

In those situations, I may choose not to tip if I feel like the tour guide could fix the problem but decides not to. Otherwise, I might still leave a tip but will definitely voice a complaint with the company.

(Unfortunately, when running a travel blog you run into this type of thing way too frequently.)

Different tipping scenarios

Now let’s apply this formula to different tour scenarios.

I’ll give you some different scenarios and list out some factors that you’ll want to think about when trying to decide on how much to tip.

A walking tour

A walking tour is usually about learning about all of the history and stories of different sites in a given city or neighborhood, so you’ll be adding points for the education and then perhaps more if they provide the entertainment.

A good walking tour guide will take the time to answer any questions raised and ideally know what they are talking about when answering.

If you’re going through a rough area such as through favelas or some other type of region like that then consider adding an additional 2% for taking care of your safety.

If you are doing a free walking tour then obviously you don’t have a percentage to go on. In that case, you might want to just throw them something like $5 or just match what you see other people giving them.

tipping tour guides america

Your safety is definitely at risk whenever you head into the water on a boat tour or some other type of activity like a kayak tour, canoe tour, etc.

You might also be learning about some of the wildlife or even spotting things like whales, sea turtles, dolphins, etc., so there is potential for getting that knowledge enrichment.

When it comes to wildlife, sometimes guides will go out of their way to help you get good views and photographs to make sure that you don’t miss anything. That can make a good opportunity to add that additional % for going above and beyond.

One example that comes to mind is when we were on a whale shark diving tour and I knocked my GoPro off my head and into the deep ocean. They made us wear lifejackets so with one of those on, there was no way for me to dive beneath the water to save the GoPro.

But without hesitation our guide dove off the boat and rescued the GoPro. That definitely scored him some above and beyond points!

Guides on kayak tours can be really helpful by showing you the best technique and ensuring that you get in and out of your kayak without too much trouble. It’s all about them taking that extra step to make sure you have a good experience.

For a boat tour that goes well, I’m usually looking to tip 15%.

tipping tour guides america

Van drivers

If you’re getting driven around in a van, the van driver may deserve a good tip. For one, safety is a factor especially during certain types of tours like one van trip I did through narrow mountain roads in Mexico.

We once did a northern lights tour and our driver was taking us around on icy roads and in the snow so his driving skills were definitely a major factor to keeping us safe. Plus, he had to keep this up for many hours so it required a lot of focus.

Sometimes during the van ride you might get some inside information from the driver and in those cases you want to add some pints.

Also, because there are typically not many passengers in the van the driver can be attentive to your comfort needs and help out with things like regulating the temperature, volume level of the music, etc.

tipping tour guides america

Bus drivers

If you’re taking a bus tour it’s less likely that you will have interactions with the driver than you would with a smaller van.

Also, because buses require more awareness than a van the bus driver may not be participating in the tour in terms of pointing things out to you.

For those type of tours you may want to only tip 5% to the driver and in other cases you may not necessarily be expected to tip the bus driver anything.

I should also point out that sometimes the van or bus driver will share tips with other guides who are able to be more engaging. If you are dealing with multiple drivers or guides on a tour then consider just applying the formula to the overall experience.

tipping tour guides america

ATV/Jeep tours

If you’re headed off road especially on serious technical off-road routes, you don’t want to take the driving skills of your driver for granted. One major mistake could jeopardize your safety or leave you stranded so you want to take that into consideration.

These tours are usually pretty entertaining as well so that’s a chance for another couple of points. Tips for these usually range from 10 to 15% for me.

tipping tour guides america

Helicopter tours

Helicopter tours are a prime example of when your life is in the hands of a guide/pilot — safety is obviously a big thing.

The pilots also have the ability to talk to you over the headset and provide you with really good information about all of the sites that you’ll be seeing which will likely be an overwhelming amount.

A good pilot will point out all sorts of interesting tidbits especially in places like Hawaii or Alaska where you’ll find dramatic scenery at seemingly every corner.

A nice sense of humor is also a great way to keep your nerves at ease if you are a little bit anxious up in the air.

I’ve now done several helicopter tours and some pilots have gone above and beyond while others have not.

Those that stick out are the ones who really want to cater the experience to your needs. They will be constantly asking you if you want to go higher/lower or get another look at a certain site. For those type of pilots, I definitely add on points and usually end up tipping around 15%.

tipping tour guides america

Snorkel/scuba diving

A good diving instructor will keep a constant eye on all of the divers and never venture too far.

Also, if you have an issue whether it is with your equipment or you are just a mental basket case, they will do whatever they can to help you out. Talented scuba instructors can also help point out wildlife and even assist with taking photographs or video for you.

A lot of diving instructors are also a bit goofy and don’t take life too seriously which helps you to have a good time and not get overly anxious about heading into the ocean. I’m usually tipping 15% for dives.

tipping tour guides america

Private tour

For private tours, I think the factors above apply but I would also add another factor which would apply to individual attention.

I wouldn’t necessarily add points for getting individual attention because that is what you are paying for with the private tour but I would certainly take away points if that doesn’t happen.

When you book a private tour you’re doing so for a specific reason.

You want to avoid the hassle of crowds and get individualized attention, possibly for your specific needs. For example, maybe there are a couple of sites along the tour where you wanted to spend a little bit of extra time.

The best way to get the most out of a private tour is to communicate all of your specific needs beforehand and get verification that the company will be able to meet those needs. The tour guide should then strive to make those things happen barring any unexpected circumstances.

On occasion, I’ve done a private tour where my prior outreach efforts did not seem to have an effect on the tour guide and that was always disappointing which led me to tipping a lot less.

I like breaking down my tips like this because it helps me to feel like I’m giving a tip based on performance which is what tips should usually be based on.

This usually results in me giving a 10% tip except for those scenarios where a tour guide really goes above and beyond. In those situations, there really is no ceiling on the tip and it sort of depends on how much money I’ve already spent on my trip!

tipping tour guides america

Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo . He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio .

I like your formula approach, and how you explain each tier. Helpful stuff, thanks.

Thanks for the useful guide. As a New Zealander, I’d like to tell readers that tipping is not the norm in New Zealand and staff do not need to top up their wages with tips in order to earn a living wage. Therefore, the NZ glow worm tour example is not a good one. New Zealanders would not tip the guides and would get good cheerful service regardless.

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Privacy Overview

A Guide to Tipping for Travelers

tipping tour guides america

Andersen Ross Photography Inc / Getty Images

Tipping correctly can save you time, embarrassment, and money. While traveling, many people will offer their services to help make life easier, but it can sometimes be hard to tell who's just doing their job and who expects a tip.

Tipping is payment for a service rendered, but tipping can also be an act of gratitude for someone who goes beyond the call of duty, like a concierge securing front-row seats to the hottest show in town. Choosing not to tip will send a clear message that you have been dissatisfied with the service you've received.

These tipping guidelines are for the United States only. Expectations (and tipping amounts) can vary quite a bit from country to country. Check the travel guide for the particular country you will be visiting for the proper tipping etiquette.

Hotels and Resorts

Occasionally, you might stay at a hotel or resort with a no-tipping policy. In this case, you might find that you are already paying for service by way of a resort fee or service charge added your final bill.

  • When valeting your car, tip $1 to $2 to the attendant when he retrieves your car. You can also tip when dropping your car off, but this is optional.
  • You don't need to tip the doorman when he opens the door for you, but if he hails you a cab, you should tip $1 to $2.
  • Tip bellhops and luggage porters $1 to $2 for every bag they bring up to your room. At a luxury hotel, you might tip more, as much as $5 per bag.
  • For housekeeping, leave a daily tip of $1 to $5 per day, depending on the type of hotel and the size of the mess you've made.
  • If you order room service, you'll find most hotels already include a service charge on the bill. If there's no service charge, tip 15 percent.
  • The hotel concierge exists to help guests, so it's not necessary to tip if they give you directions or make a restaurant recommendation. However, if the service has been especially valuable, such as getting reservations to a restaurant that claims to be totally booked, tipping $5 to $20 is reasonable.
  • Be sure to check out our guide for tipping in Las Vegas as well.

In general, more and more cruise lines are moving away from traditional tipping and adding service charges, which will be split evenly among the crew. It varies from line to line, so make sure to ask about their tipping policy before you book your next cruise.

  • If the cruise line automatically adds the service charge to your account, you may be able to adjust it lower or higher as you deem necessary. The recommended amount is $10 to $20 per passenger for every day of your cruise.
  • Baggage handlers work for the port and not the cruise ship, so you should tip $1 to $2 per bag or $4 to $5 per party.
  • Like at a hotel, you can leave $1 to $5 per day for housekeeping in your cabin.
  • You will most likely have different servers every day, but if there is someone that stands out (like a bartender who remembers your drink order), feel free to hand them a small token of appreciation.
  • Upon any delivery to your cabin, like room service or a special request, you should tip $1 to $3 per visit depending on how much you order.
  • Tipping the head waiter isn't necessary, but you can give $5 to $10 if they accommodate a special request or go above and beyond.
  • Onshore excursions, you should tip your guides based on the level of personalization from $2 to $10.
  • For children's club counselors, tipping is not necessary.
  • It's the ship captain's job to command the ship and, occasionally, socialize with guests. Tipping is not necessary and would most likely be refused.

Restaurants and Bars

Whether you're enjoying a night out on the town or just popping down to the hotel lounge for a nightcap, standard tipping practices still apply when you're traveling.

  • Tip your server 15 percent to 20 percent of the bill based on the pre-tax total of the bill or more if you enjoyed the service. If a service charge has already been included, feel free to leave without tipping.
  • Bartenders should be tipped $1 per drink served, even if they're just pouring beer or wine.
  • Tip the sommelier 10 percent of your wine costs, even if it's a less expensive vintage.
  • If there is a bathroom attendant, who doesn't just hand out towels but also keeps the bathroom clean, drop a few coins in the tip jar or tip $1 per visit.
  • When collecting your things at the coat check, tip $1 per item checked.

Transportation

Depending on how you choose to get around when you travel, you might be expected to tip.

  • It's customary to tip cab drivers 15 percent to 20 percent of the fare.
  • If you use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, you're not obligated to tip the driver, but it's considerate to give $1 to $2 for a short trip or more for a long-haul ride.
  • If you arrange an airport shuttle transfer, tip $1 for every bag handled.
  • Tip limousine drivers 15 percent to 20 percent, unless a service charge is included.

How much you tip a tour guide varies depending on the tour's length, size, and overall quality. In most countries, tipping your guide at the end of a tour is standard practice and will be rarely turned down.

  • For a tour that only lasts a few hours, tip your guide 10 percent to 20 percent the cost of the tour. How much you tip also depends on the size of your tour, so you should tip more for a more personalized experience.
  • For a multi-day tour, you should tip your guide $5 to $10 per day on the last day.
  • If there was a driver in addition to a guide, tip them $1 to $5 per day.
  • For free tours, which are offered in many large cities , you should tip between $5 to $10, depending on the quality of the tour.

Spas and Salons

If you purchase an individualized service at a spa or salon, you'll be expected to leave a tip. Some spas might already include a service charge, so make sure to ask about this at the front desk when you go to pay.

  • For a spa treatment like a massage or a facial, tip 15 percent to 20 percent if no service fee has been included. If you're getting the treatment at a discount, your tip should be based on the original price.
  • There's no need to tip if you're visiting a spa with common facilities like saunas or hot springs without purchasing an extra treatment.
  • Medical spas might have more complicated treatments, like botox injections. Usually, tipping is not allowed for these kinds of services.
  • Hairstylists and manicurists should be tipped at 15 percent to 20 percent.
  • If someone else washes your hair, you can give them a $1 to $5.

Golf Courses

If you decide to go for a round of golf on vacation, you might run into these tipping scenarios.

  • On a golf course, the bag boy takes your clubs when you arrive and sets them up in a golf cart for you. He will also wipe them down before you leave, so tip $1 to $2 on arrival and $2 to $5 as you leave.
  • If you arrive without a tee time and the starter fits you in, you can tip them $1 to $5.
  • Caddies should be tipped 50 percent of the caddie fee, adjusted higher or lower for your satisfaction with their service.
  • A forecaddie works for a group of golfers and should be tipped $20 to $25 per player.

A Guide to Tipping in France

A Guide to Tipping in Chicago

A Guide to Tipping in Ireland

A Guide to Tipping Hotel Employees

A Guide to Tipping in Germany

A Guide to Tipping in Portugal

A Guide to Tipping in India

Tipping in Iceland: The Complete Guide

How Much You Should Tip in Amsterdam

Guide to Tipping in Las Vegas

A Guide to Tipping in Mexico

A Guide to Tipping in Nepal

A Guide to Tipping in Peru

A Guide to Tipping in the United Kingdom

A Guide to Tipping in New York City

A Guide to Tipping in Asia

Tour Scoop

How Much Should You Tip on a Guided Tour? All Your Gratuity Questions Answered

Everything you need to know about tipping on a guided tour..

Josh Roberts

The Scoop: What to Know About Trafalgar Tours

When you book a guided tour , it may seem like you’re covering most of your vacation costs before you even depart. Most tours include accommodations, trip leaders, local guides, transportation during the trip, admission fees, and many meals all in the upfront cost. But the addd cost of tour leader tips and other customary gratuities can sneak up on you unless you’ve factored them in at the beginning.

Inspired by my own frustration about the vague information available about how much to tip on guided tours, I’ve compared tipping guidelines and recommendations from a dozen different tour companies to create this tipping guide for tours. You can use it to get a sense of tour operator tipping norms and then plan accordingly.

BEST OF THE BEST: 15 Best Group Travel Companies for Guided Tours

Which Gratuities Are Covered in Most Tours?

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Many tour companies build tips for support staff into the tour price. That could include hotel staff, waiters, and sometimes (but not always) bus drivers. If your guided tour has a dedicated motor coach driver for the entire trip, for example, you may be expected to tip the driver in addition to your guides.

And almost none of the tour operators I spoke with include the priciest of all tips—tour leader gratuities—into the cost of a tour. The exception is Road Scholar , which includes group leader gratuities in the up-front tour cost. 

Which Gratuities Are Not Covered in Most Tours?

Beyond the above-mentioned exceptions, most tour companies do not include tips for guides and hotel housekeeping. Often, these people rely on tips as a vital part of their income, so it’s important to set your own budget accordingly to make sure you’re tipping at an appropriate level for their service.

  • Tour Leader/Director: I’ll go into more detail below about tipping tour leaders, but in terms of the biggest gratuity expense to budget for on a tour, this is it, since the customary amount may well be in the hundreds of dollars.
  • Local Tour Guides: Some tour companies will include local tour guides into the gratuities covered in the cost of the tour, while others say you should tip local tour guides individually. If you’re expected to tip local guides on your own, the daily amount usually falls somewhere in the $2 to $10 range. Local tour guides tend to be used for day tours, so you’ll want to tip them at the end of the day, as you may not see them again.
  • Hotel Housekeeping: In-room tips for the cleaning staff aren’t generally paid by tour companies. TourScoop’s sister site FamilyVacationist has an explainer about hotel housekeeping tipping etiquette , but generally speaking the customary range is $3 to $10 per day depending on the hotel class. 
  • Independent Meals: Learn tipping customs for your destinations before you go, since you’ll likely have some meals on your own and will want to be able to tip or not tip as the culture dictates. 

Why You Should Always Tip Your Tour Leaders

tour guide Rudy showing a flower pot in Cusco

Ask a tour company why you should tip your tour leader and you’ll likely get some version of, “Well, it’s the customary way to thank them for all their hard work” or “It’s how you show appreciation and gratitude.” 

Intrepid Travel goes a bit deeper on its explanation, noting that “tipping is still a big part of leaders’ overall income” and that tipping locals for their guiding services is actually a powerful way to inject cash into the local economy. Since tip money doesn’t pass through a third party, the money “either go[es] straight to the leader, or get[s] divided up among your porters and local guides.”

A great tour leader turns a good experience into a great one, and it’s natural to want to make sure they feel appreciated, even if you have some resistance to the structures that require guests to heavily subsidize these hard-working wonders.

How Much to Tip Your Tour Leaders

The less helpful but most accurate answer to the question of how much to tip your tour leader is that information about tipping is generally found in the final documents you receive before your trip, so be sure to read those pages carefully when you get them (usually somewhere between a month and two weeks before the start of a tour). To give you a ballpark estimate, though, the daily per person tip for a tour leader tip should be somewhere in the range of $7 to $12, with $10 per person per day being the most widely recommended amount. 

GO IT ALONE: 10 Best Travel Companies for Solo Travel Tours

That amount can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one tour leader and/or are traveling with a family group . For instance, Adventures by Disney (which is refreshingly up-front about its tipping recommendations) pencils out gratuities for a 10-day tour with a family of four at $720 to $880, since its family travel adventures always include two tour leaders. That can be sticker-shock territory, which is why I suspect so many tour companies are so cagey about how much to tip tour leaders. 

How and When to Tip on a Guided Tour

Some companies—including Trafalgar , Globus , and Collette —may give you the option to pre-pay tour leader tips with your credit card at the time of booking. On the one hand, that’s great, since it means you don’t need to carry around cash to give at the very end of the trip. On the other hand, it pokes holes in the industry-wide story that the tip is tied to the service you’ve received.

Most tour companies still recommend tipping your tour leader at the end of the tour. Plan to tip in either the local currency or U.S. dollars if it’s a widely accepted currency in the destination country. Some tour leaders also accept Venmo or PayPal.

More from TourScoop:

  • 8 Best Senior Travel Tour Companies
  • Plane Essentials: The 10 Carry-On Items I Always Pack
  • How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Tours

Josh Roberts

New Year Tour Sales: They’re Big and They’re Limited Time

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Tour Scoop’s team of travel experts brings you in-depth tour company overviews, tour itinerary reviews, the latest tour news, and travel tips and advice written just for guided tour travelers like you.

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How Much Should I Tip My Guide? We Asked Guides How Much to Give.

Tipping is part of life, but it often feels confusing and stressful. Whether you’re on a river trip, a safari, or taking a ski lesson, we asked all the hard questions to provide these guidelines on how much to give—and how to do it right.

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I was on a backcountry hut trip in British Columbia last winter, and at the end of an incredible, powder-filled week, my group of friends and I realized what most of us had forgotten: cash. Specifically, enough money to tip our two hard-working ski guides, as well as the cook, who’d been making us delicious meals morning and night, and the hut caretaker, who’d been pre-heating the sauna and shoveling the path to the outhouse.

It was a major oversight on our part. In the end, we cobbled together what cash we had and the rest of us chipped in via PayPal, a clunky fix.

In America, we know that when we go into a restaurant, it’s expected that, assuming the service is decent, you will leave your waiter a 15 to 20 percent tip on the bill. But when you go on, say, a guided backcountry ski trip or a whitewater rafting trip with a commercial outfitter or an afternoon of guided fly-fishing, the assumptions of gratuity are less clear. Are you always supposed to tip in those cases, and if so, how much?

“Guiding is very similar to the restaurant industry. It’s a service industry,” says Shane Robinson, a Seattle-based mountain guide and the founder of Graybird Guiding . He also guides for the company Alpine Ascents International . “Unfortunately, guides are probably not paid as well as they should be. So, most guides rely on those tips to make ends meet.”

Tipping guide lead image

Tips for outdoor guides and instructors vary wildly—some people tip a lot, some less, others don’t tip at all—and every destination is different. If you’re traveling internationally, many countries don’t have a tipping culture like the U.S.

“Tipping these days is much more common, but it’s not across the board,” says Dave Hahn, a long-time guide for RMI Expeditions who has guided on peaks like Mount Rainier and Mount Everest. “I think of a tip as a reward for a meaningful time or for someone putting themselves out there for you, not as an expectation.”

Given that guides are often the one who makes your trip or instruction stand out above the rest, we recommend always being prepared to tip. But sorting out how much to give and when to give it after a shared adventure can be awkward, confusing, and feel so hush hush, like no one’s talking openly about it.

Well, we are. We asked all the hard and awkward questions to provide these dos-and-don’ts guidelines on how to tip like a pro.

1. Do the Math

Typically, the gratuity rate for guides should be around 10 to 20 percent of the total trip cost. That means if you’re paying $500 for a day or two of guided rock climbing, an appropriate tip for your guide would be between $50 and $100.

2. Do Tip Even On Pricey Trips

Maybe you’ve just thrown down $5,000 for a Grand Canyon river trip. That’s a huge chunk of cash for a guided trip. Do you really have to tip on top of that? The answer is yes. “I sometimes find that when the cost of the trip is higher, people tend to tip less,” says Canadian guide Holly Walker, an ACMG-certified hiking and ski guide and owner of Fall Line Guides .

What helps me is to go ahead and factor in a 10 to 20 percent tip based on the total price of the trip into my initial budget to reduce the shock factor. So for that $5,000 trip, I’d tip $500 to $1,000 to be split up amongst the guides.

3. Do Prepare Ahead

Being a good tipper means planning in advance. You don’t want to get caught at the end of your trip without any cash. (Like, um, me.) Sandy Cunningham, CEO and co-founder of the adventure travel company Uncharted , advises her clients to pack a dozen or so envelopes, each filled with predetermined amounts of money and labeled for their recipient: driver, guide, cook, cleaning staff, etc. “You have your travel pouch with all the important things: passports, vaccination cards, envelopes with tip money,” Cunningham says. “That way you’re ready.”

4. Do Tip at the End of Your Trip

Some guiding services will offer a tip for the guide to be added onto your credit card purchase when you book the trip. But tipping is a token of gratitude that should be delivered at the end of your trip, based on a job well done. Typically, there’s a parting moment, when you and your guide are saying your goodbyes. That’s the best time to pass over the envelope and say thank you for the experience.

“At the end of your time, you pull the envelope out and give it to the person directly,” says Cunningham. “I will often bring my own thank you cards and write a personal note, too.”

5. Do Bring Cash

“I joke that I’ll take whatever form you’re paying in. We’re grateful for however it comes,” Shane Robinson says. But cash is king. If you can’t get cash or don’t want to travel with a wad of bills, American guides are accustomed to receiving online tips via Venmo these days. Just make sure you get their Venmo handle so you pay the right person. “It’s sometimes easier to divide up an electronic tip amongst a guide staff,” adds Hahn.

Venmo is currently only supported in the U.S., so if your guide is Canadian or from any other country, cash is the best form of payment. If you book your guide through a site like 57Hours , the app has tipping built in, and that’s a fine way to tip your guide. If you’re tipping porters, drivers, and local guides directly, cash is always preferred.

6. Do Give U.S. Dollars

Ask Walker, the Canadian guide, about preferred currency and she will say: “U.S. dollars are always OK.” So, feel free to get cash from an ATM at home before leaving the country if you don’t want to deal with picking up local currency when you arrive. “Unless it’s stipulated otherwise, people love U.S. Dollars, especially if their currency is weak,” adds Sandy Cunningham.

7. Don’t Forget About Instructional Settings

Guiding can come in many forms—including lessons from a wide range of instructors. Say your kid takes a private lesson from an instructor at a ski resort in the U.S. or you sign up for a mountain bike clinic or a running retreat. A tip is always appreciated. Again, 10 to 20 percent of the lesson price would be about right. Many guides also teach avalanche safety classes or mountaineering courses, and though tips are far less common in those situations because they’re less service oriented, the guides say they’re very grateful when people think to tip afterward. “As guides, the work is essentially the same,” Robinson says.

8. Do Remember the Rest of the Staff

Whether you’re at a backcountry hut, a wilderness lodge, or a safari camp, you might have a guide or two, as well as a cook, caretaker, or cleaning staff. At the end of your trip, plan on tipping out everybody in a service position. First, tip your guide 10 to 20 percent of the total cost. If you have multiple guides, you can tip the lead guide and they can split that up amongst the other guides. Then leave a separate tip—look for a designated tip box, or ask your guide where to leave it—to be distributed amongst the rest of the staff.

“If you’re heli-skiing, you’ve got pilots, waiters, housekeeping, bartenders, tail guides. If you’re on Kilimanjaro, you’ve got porters, people building tents, local guides,” Hahn says. “Those are times when you probably want to touch base with your guide. You can say, ‘How do I take care of the support staff?’ I don’t want to be bashful about those conversations. I consider that part of my job as your guide to make sure that local staff gets tipped properly. They’re much more dependent on those tips than I am.”

9. Do Collect Your Tips if You’re in a Group

If you’re traveling with family or a group of friends, it’s best to collect your cash into one joint gratuity. You can agree on a set amount per person or each contribute what you’re able. That way, the guide isn’t receiving stealthy handshakes with cash from a dozen different people from the same group. “Having the group collect the tip is definitely preferred and nicer for everyone,” says Walker. “Everyone can still say their goodbyes, but it’s less transactions that way.”

10. Don’t Tip in Beer

Any sign of gratitude—be it a hand-written card or a gift certificate or a nice bottle of whiskey—will be appreciated. But again, cash rules. “Buying your guide a meal or beer at the end of the trip—everyone will appreciate that. That’s nice in addition to your tip,” Hahn says. “My point is anything is nice. If someone had a really good trip and credits you with it and expresses that, they don’t always have to say that in money.”

11. Do Tip Even If You Didn’t Summit

So, you paid for a guided trip and for one reason or another, things didn’t go as planned. Like all adventures in the outdoors, final outcomes can be unpredictable. “Nobody should have to pay for service that was subpar,” Cunningham says. If your guide really let you down, factor that into your tip.

But if you didn’t make it to the summit, that doesn’t mean your guide didn’t work hard. “Sometimes good guiding means saying no,” Hahn says. “There’s this perception that you didn’t get us to the top of the mountain, so perhaps you didn’t work as hard as you might have. But obviously, on those days where it’s avalanche conditions or storms or something happened where you had the good sense to not get anyone hurt, that’s still hard work.”

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Gratuity in general has so many nuances, especially so in the outdoor world. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Before you go, check with the operation that you’re booking through if you have any questions about tipping,” Hahn says. Outfitters these days will often provide an exact number or a range of what to consider tipping.

But maybe don’t ask your guide out right what you should pay them as a tip: That exact number is still up to you. “I guided a family for a week and as we were saying our goodbyes, they said, ‘If you were us, how much would you tip you?’” Walker recalls. “It felt very awkward to ask me that directly. I told them, ‘I would tip a percentage that I thought was appropriate.’”

The bottom line is, be prepared to tip. Guiding is hard and often low-pay work, and gratuities are always appreciated.

Outside Correspondent Megan Michelson is an avid traveler who has used many guides on her adventures around the world.

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How much should I tip when I travel?

Melanie Lieberman

Editor's Note

Even the most seasoned travelers may find tipping while traveling to be complicated and stressful.

After all, most of us want to thank the right people for great service and don't want to stiff underpaid employees who might be depending on gratuities. At the same time, we don't want to double-pay service charges already included in our bills or inadvertently insult someone in a foreign country.

So, who deserves a tip, and when and where should you give it? Also, how much should you tip?

Tipping customs vary based on your destination and what sort of travel you are doing. For hotels, tipping can depend on the room rate, the level of service and the details of your stay. (Did you refuse housekeeping for the duration of your trip? Or, did you trash the room with a massive all-night party?)

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the world of tipping. Housekeepers, for example, may have much more extensive cleaning regimens even though they might not touch your room during your stay. Also, short-staffed hotels may add more responsibilities for already overworked employees.

To help you decide how much you should tip during specific travel situations, from tours to hotels to all-inclusive vacations, here's what to know.

Tipping tour guides

Let's start with how much to tip tour guides. Not unlike when you dine at a restaurant, there's a general consensus to tip tour guides based on the level of service you receive.

For tour guides, we recommend tipping 10% to 20% of the overall tour's cost. Of course, you're always welcome (and encouraged) to tip more for exceptional service if you feel inclined.

Whom to tip at hotels

tipping tour guides america

When many hotels eliminated housekeeping services during the COVID-19 pandemic, I got out of the habit of traveling with the cash I used to carry specifically for tipping housekeeping.

But if there's anyone within hotels you should tip, it's housekeeping. Many experts agree that you should tip housekeeping $3 to $5 per day, depending on the length of your stay, your room rate and the level of service.

"These are the hardest-working people in the hotel and the least recognized," Tom Waithe, general manager of the Alexis Hotel Seattle, previously told TPG.

You should, however, be on the lookout for hidden housekeeping fees that some hotels have been adding to room charges — sometimes up to $40 per day. In these cases, a gratuity is not expected, though it's still possible that those hotels are not sharing these fees with staff.

A rule of thumb states that luggage attendants who help you with your bags at hotels (and airports) should receive $1 to $5 per bag. Round up for large groups of bags or if the attendant must take multiple trips or handle fragile or special-request items.

For car valets, a couple of dollars is typically appropriate; you may want to tip more if the valet delivers on a rush request. If you're staying at a hotel for a while and expect to use your car often, start the valet out with a larger tip of about $10 dollars, and explain your situation. You'll likely get your car parked closer and delivered ahead of other people's cars daily.

Butlers and concierges, especially at luxury hotels, should also be tipped an amount determined by what services they've delivered for you. Tipping the head door person at a hotel can also be a way to get improved service during a longer visit.

Who doesn't need a tip at a hotel, then? The people delivering room service meals where a (usually hefty) service charge has already been added to the tab do not necessitate a tip. Of course, you can still feel free to tip them. In the rare cases when gratuity isn't included or if you've asked the staff for some out-of-the-ordinary services, those circumstances would warrant tipping.

Related: Innovations in hotel stays: How to give guests the next-level experience

Tipping around the world

If you've ever traveled outside the U.S., you may have received mixed messages about tipping or confused faces from non-Americans when discussing tipping culture in this country.

In some countries — such as Australia, Japan and China — tipping is not common. It's actually frowned upon in Japan.

"Tipping abroad is so much more than converting currencies. Many countries and cultures each adopt their own nuanced take on this, at times, delicate matter," Tom Marchant, co-founder of the luxury travel company Black Tomato, told TPG. In Australia, where tipping is "not a common transaction," it can even make recipients a bit uncomfortable.

Otherwise, you should distribute tips as you do in the U.S. when visiting most of Europe, touristy areas of Mexico, the Caribbean (excluding all-inclusive resorts ) and Canada. Tipping is also customary in India and the Middle East.

In Central and South America, leaving small amounts of change in the local currency is greatly appreciated. If you're traveling to Africa, expect more intricacies, depending on whether or not you're on safari or staying at an urban property in a major city.

If you're unsure what's customary in a specific destination, feel free to ask around or err on the side of being overly generous.

Related: The ultimate guide to tipping in Europe

When to tip on an all-inclusive vacation

tipping tour guides america

Speaking of all-inclusive resorts, know that daily service charges are typically included in your bill if you're on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive resort. However, be sure to double-check your folio carefully or inquire with the front desk upon check-in. Also, be sure to verify what's included in a property's resort fees, even for non-inclusive properties.

According to Lindsey Epperly Sulek — founder of Jetset World Travel and a Caribbean travel expert — most traditional all-inclusive resorts, like Sandals in the Caribbean, include gratuity.

If gratuities are not included, you can follow the previously mentioned hotel guidelines : $1 to $5 per bag for the bellhop, $5 per day for housekeeping (left every day), nothing extra for room service (if included on the bill) and a sliding scale for concierges, depending on the task's difficulty.

If you're taking a tour from an all-inclusive resort — such as for a safari — tip your guides and the driver.

Related: The 17 best all-inclusive resorts in the US for a spectacular vacation

Tipping staff during a cruise

Whether they're called service charges or gratuities, the automatic fees cruise lines charge daily to passengers' onboard accounts — sometimes as much as $25.50 per person, per day — are designed to replace cash tipping. It's a policy that was put in place so cruisers won't feel obligated to tip or worry about when and where to present gratuities.

In addition to passenger-facing crew members, such as waitstaff and cabin stewards, many other crew members see a portion of service fees. This includes people who wash dishes and work in cruise ship laundry rooms. You can pay these fees in advance or have them added to your onboard bill. You can adjust the gratuity amount up or down by visiting the guest services desk during your sailing.

If you want to provide an extra boost to a crew member who has gone above and beyond, mention them in your post-cruise survey so they can receive higher-level recognition. This is something that could come with more long-term benefits than a tip.

If you find yourself on a sailing that doesn't charge daily gratuities or you want to tip extra for stellar service, be sure to bring cash. There might also be a tip box by the reception desk.

Have a favorite bartender or waiter on your sailing? An extra gratuity paid early during your trip will go a long way to ensure that above-average service continues throughout your vacation. Keep in mind that most cruise bar purchases and spa treatments automatically include gratuities ranging from about 15% to 18%. There's no need to tip extra unless you want to.

Related: Can I remove prepaid gratuities on a cruise?

Tipping flight attendants and airport employees

tipping tour guides america

Generally, airline employees like flight attendants are not allowed to accept any tips on the job. However, airport staff members are permitted to do so.

One notable exception is Frontier Airlines, which has an inflight tipping program.

Airline employee unions have fought against allowing flight attendants to accept tips, which may seem counterintuitive. However, labor laws allow employers to pay sub-minimum wages if the employees are assumed to be receiving gratuities on a regular basis. Don't be insulted if flight attendants refuse your tip offers — they're doing so to protect their salaries.

Many airlines provide ways passengers can recognize services provided by flight attendants and other employees. For example, Southwest Airlines has its Commend an Employee program that lets you leave positive comments online. This may have a more positive impact than the dollar tip you offered for your gin and tonic.

Should you want to show your appreciation for a particularly friendly or helpful flight attendant, note that gifts such as snacks or coffee shop gift cards are OK.

Bottom line

Tipping is often customary when traveling, depending on where you go, what service you receive and the level of service provided.

Bookmark this guide for your next international trip.

Related reading:

  • 8 lessons I learned from my 1st all-inclusive vacation
  • 10 times you do not need to tip on a cruise
  • Mobile tipping comes to hotels: Will housekeepers really benefit
  • We asked a flight attendant for their top insider tips on flying like a pro

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What are the rules for tipping in America? A US traveller’s survival guide

A campaign to make 20 per cent the bare minimum for restaurant meals is having some effect, article bookmarked.

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Numbers game: the check after dinner at the Café Four in Knoxville, Tennessee. I left $15 in cash (18%)

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As British travellers discover on a first visit to the US, tipping is deeply embedded in the culture. And it is all too easy to breach etiquette.

The matter was thrust into the spotlight again recently when an American server shared their displeasure with a specific group of diners on Twitter.

“Lmao I f***ing hate Europeans sometimes on god,” wrote user “brecht apologist” on the social media platform. “This table just left $70 on a $700 check after chilling for HOURS. My manager even asked about their service and they were OVER THE MOON about my service so he explained the customary tip is 20% and they were like ‘ok.’ and left”.

Cue a quickly escalating debate beneath the original post, with Europeans, and Brits in particular, keen to explain that, in fact, US tipping culture is not just alien to us, but completely baffling.

So join me, reader, as I attempt to unpack the myriad rules that apply when it comes to obligatory tipping across the Pond.

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Who must I tip?

Almost anything that moves in the sphere of travel in the US. Taxi (and Uber) drivers, of course. Bellhops who take your bags to the room. Guides and bus drivers on excursions. And, when eating and drinking, waiting staff and bartenders. This also extends to dining cars on trains, and drinks at airport lounges, though there is no expectation (yet) of tipping airline staff for a safe and punctual flight.

How much for drivers?

Taxi drivers expect an absolute minimum of 15 per cent – anything less (or no tip at all) will appear to him or her that you are awarding yourself a discount. For a smile at the end of the ride, it’s 20 per cent. A good way to pay tips is by having a stash of $1 bills – this goes direct to the driver. On a $20 ride, a $3 tip in cash will be fine.

Uber invites you to tip a broad range of amounts: on a $10 ride, for example, you could be offered options of $1, $3 or $5 – a range of percentages of 10, 30 or 50. In this situation I select “Custom Amount” and pay an extra $2 (20 per cent).

What about hotel staff?

If you are staying at the kind of place where bellhops take your bags to your room, then you will be expected to pay-per-bag – anything from $1 upwards. If the member of staff shows you how to switch on the light in your room, they will be expecting a minimum of $5, even if you have only one modest bag.

Housekeeping staff may leave a handwritten note for you, with the implication that you will leave some US dollar notes for them.

Time to eat…

…which is where the real tipping minefield begins. A decade ago, 15 per cent was considered adequate on a restaurant meal. No longer. A campaign to make 20 per cent the “floor” for a tip is having a strong effect. The minimum is now 18 per cent.

Except in extreme circumstances, the minimum you should leave is 18 per cent. This is, I agree, a ridiculous margin – especially as it is in addition to the 8.875 per cent sales tax on restaurant meals in New York.

The two combine to expensive effect. If you order a burger and a drink for two at a menu price of, say, $39 each in Manhattan, the total you would pay is over $100.

Note that the percentage tip should be based on the pre-tax total.

Are the waiters simply greedy?

No. Employers in many American states are entitled to pay waiting staff at a special below-minimum-wage rate, on the assumption that diners will make up the difference.

For example the New York State Department of Labor says: “The minimum wage for food service workers in New York City is $15 per hour. Their employers can satisfy the minimum wage by combining a cash wage of at least $10 with a tip allowance of no more than $5.” So there has long been an unwritten agreement that diners will tip handsomely.

How do I tip?

Usually by adding the amount to the credit card receipt. Because no one can work out 18 per cent of, say, a $55.55 total in their head, the check will typically contain three options: 18, 20 and 25 per cent. At increasingly many restaurants, the selection is 20, 22 and 25 per cent.

Settling up is all very cumbersome. You choose the one you want (or decide your own “custom amount”), write it into the space on the credit card receipt, then do some difficult adding up.

An easier strategy is to leave actual cash dollars: as it happens, that 18 per cent of $55.55 turns out to be $10 exactly – and a crisp ten-dollar bill will probably be more appreciated than a 20 per cent add-on ($11.11) to the check.

I need a drink

In which case, if you are sitting up at the bar, you should tip the bartender at least $1 per drink even if it is a happy-hour special of $5 for a beer. For elaborate cocktail mixing, you will be expected to tip significantly more.

Might the tip already be added to the bill?

Sometimes a percentage will be added – do not confuse this with sales tax, which is always an extra. Even if, say, an 18 per cent tip is included in the bill, you will still be invited to tip on top. In these circumstances, it is not unreasonable to decline.

A new variation in some restaurants is a mandatory 10 per cent for kitchen staff – with waiters expecting the standard minimum of 18 per cent on the freshly inflated total.

Just a latte, please

In coffee outlets, standard practice is to turn the screen at the till around once the order is confirmed, and invite the customer to select 18, 20, 25 per cent; a custom amount; or no tip. The pressure is on because the staff member behind the counter is watching you.

I always choose “no tip” on the grounds that the product I am buying requires someone to make it, and the only additional “service” element is handing me the coffee. So far I haven’t been beaten up and I don’t believe anyone has spat in the coffee, either.

I get free breakfast with my hotel. So that’s all good, then

Not if any degree of service beyond setting out a basic buffet is involved. You will be expected to tip, say, $5.

If you think, “I’ve already paid for this,” you may find that when you settle the final bill the breakfast staff have self-awarded a tip. The Independent knows of multiple occurrences of this practice.

If these amounts are near-mandatory, what has gone wrong with the system?

Americans are much more tolerant of additions to the basic price than are Europeans, East Asians and Australians.

Does the same sort of thing happen in Canada?

North of the 49th parallel, 15 per cent is still acceptable, and staff appear more forgiving of tipping faux pas. But in a restaurant in Banff, Alberta, I found a note on the menu saying: “We reserve the right to add a 15 per cent gratuity.”

Who, I wondered, is this aimed at? I was shocked to be told by the waiter: “Scots and Australians.”

Listen to Simon Calder’s latest travel podcast: “America, we have to talk about tipping”

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A Traveler’s Guide to Tipping in a Changed World

In the age of tip fatigue, many are bewildered by how much to tip in hotels and restaurants and on guided tours. Customs in foreign countries complicate the picture. Here’s some advice from experts.

A colorful, cartoonish illustration shows three tipping scenes: the first shows a tip jar on a table where there is also a drink, fries and sandwich; the second shows a woman with her glasses pushed back on her head, holding a purse, and the third shows a dish with a restaurant check on it, showing a percentage sign; behind it are some food items, and beyond those are two pyramids and a camel.

By Elaine Glusac

Not long into the pandemic, Americans were eager to tip their front-line-working baristas and servers. But now that tip fatigue has set in — driven by the proliferation of payment tablets that suggest tipping for everything from a sandwich at a grab-and-go counter to an ultrasound — consumers are often bewildered by when and how much to tip.

“This is the hottest topic in etiquette right now,” said Daniel Post Senning, the co-author of “Emily Post Etiquette, The Centennial Edition” and the great-great grandson of the etiquette icon Emily Post . He cites the pressure of inflation, the disruption of the pandemic and the rush back to travel for the unease. “There’s growing anxiety and public discussion around tipping.”

Offering guidance on when and how much to tip when you travel, etiquette experts, academics and travelers weighed in with the following advice.

Make 15 to 20 percent your restaurant baseline

Tipping standards at restaurants vary widely around the world. In the United States, the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests in its “Gratuity Guide” leaving 15 percent of the total bill or up to 20 percent for extraordinary service.

“The minimum is 15 percent,” said Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and the founder of the Swann School of Protocol in Carlsbad, Calif. “It can be increased from there based on the level of service received.”

Before the pandemic, tip averages in restaurants nationally had crept up to 18 percent, a standard that fell back to 15 percent more recently as inflation grew, according to Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor in the hospitality school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I don’t think consumers want to be stingy, but everybody’s budget is tight and they’re trying to make trade-off decisions,” she said.

Despite expert advice, consumers may not have a choice. In many American cities, tips are increasingly included in the bill and often are well above 15 percent. A recent article making the rounds in New York argues for a 20 to 25 percent standard.

At a trendy cocktail bar in Los Angeles recently, an $18 drink came to $24 after an 18 percent gratuity and an additional fee for employee health care. The bartender mentioned that the establishment includes tips in their tallies because it serves many guests from foreign countries where tipping is not standard.

According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition , service charges benefit all employees, including cooks and dishwashers as well as waiters. “The service charge model ensures that employee compensation is fair, reliable and not reliant on the diners’ experience or bias,” said Erika Polmar, the executive director of the coalition.

Beyond the United States, tip amounts vary, as illustrated in this tipping map. Often, they are less than in the United States and are sometimes included as a service charge (see the section below on tipping abroad).

Don’t be afraid to say no

Some tip requests should be denied, according to experts.

For example, when you’re ordering coffee or a sandwich from a kiosk or counter and are presented with a payment screen including suggested tip amounts, “Push past that awkwardness and push no tip,” Ms. Swann said. “Proprietors are offering a perk to employees and they’re putting it on the backs of consumers to absorb.”

Caving in to social pressure or even a scowl from the employee is, in Ms. Swann’s opinion, “giving in to a level of entitlement that should be nonexistent.”

The growth of credit card payments over cash has made it harder to show a token of appreciation via the tip jar, especially if you’re not carrying cash. If in the past you would pay with cash and leave the coins, Mr. Senning advised rounding up on your credit card and doing the same thing virtually.

Stock up on small bills

Beyond restaurants, travel offers many other opportunities to leave tips for service providers such as cabdrivers, bellhops and valets. Before she takes a trip, Ms. Swann goes to the bank to get cash, especially the $1 and $5 bills that are nearly impossible to withdraw from A.T.M.s.

Most experts agree taxi or rideshare drivers deserve 15 to 20 percent of the fare, depending on the service and the cleanliness of the vehicle. (Ms. Swann once rode in a rideshare car filled with dog hair and made the rare decision not to tip.)

Airport skycaps and the bell people at a hotel should get a few dollars a bag, based on service, and perhaps more if the task is onerous, like handling golf or ski bags. Valet parkers should get $2 to $5 at drop-off and pickup.

And if you only have larger bills, Ms. Swann added, it’s perfectly fine to ask for change back.

Remember the hotel housekeeper

Etiquette experts say hotel guests should leave $2 to $5 a night for the housekeeper each morning. The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends $1 to $5 a night left daily, preferably in a marked envelope making it clear that it is intended for the housekeeper. In its tipping guide , UNITE HERE, the labor union whose members include hotel workers, suggests a minimum of $5 a day and more for suites.

Not many travelers comply.

Despite having the most physically demanding jobs in hotels with few avenues for advancement, “hotel housekeepers are some of the least-often tipped employees in the service industry,” according to Dr. Belarmino of U.N.L.V. “Unlike servers, who are often paid less than minimum wage that is then made up by tips, hotel housekeepers’ pay is not contingent upon tips. However, it is a courtesy to tip them.”

But in the age of infrequent or optional room cleaning, which has become more common since the pandemic, the guidelines get murkier. “If you stay one night or if you choose to skip housekeeping, I would recommend tipping about $5 at checkout,” Dr. Belarmino said.

If housekeeping is available on demand, most experts recommend tipping each time the room is serviced. And you may want to consider raising the amount.

“If the hotel won’t do daily housekeeping, make sure to tip extra on the days that you do get service and at checkout, because rooms that have gone days without housekeeping are dirtier and harder for housekeepers to clean,” wrote D. Taylor, the international president of UNITE HERE, in an email.

Mind foreign tipping customs

Customs regarding gratuities vary by country. On some trips abroad, guides with the high-end tour company Abercrombie & Kent use orientation sessions to advise guests on when to tip in unexpected places — like bathrooms in Egypt — and provide travelers with small denominations in the local currency to do so.

If you don’t have a guide to instruct you, make learning the culture of tipping abroad part of your trip planning by consulting guidebooks, tourism board websites and online sources like Tripadvisor .

“You have to look at two things: Is it expected and mandatory as it is here in the U.S. for many service jobs? And what is the social safety net like in that place?” said Pauline Frommer, the editorial director of Frommer’s , which publishes travel guidebooks covering 48 countries, including advice on how to tip.

In countries like Mexico, where wages are low, she advised tipping in restaurants as you might at home. In Europe, where waiters are paid better, tipping is less important. On trips to London and Paris last summer, she found bills with service fees included, often listed as “S.C.” for “service charge.”

“If you didn’t know, you might tip on top of that,” she said, recommending that travelers scrutinize their bills and ask if something is unfamiliar.

In Italy, travelers might find a nominal charge called a “coperto” on their bill covering bread and water.

“It comes from the days when you would go to an inn and if you wanted to have a tablecloth and plates, they charged you for it,” said Pam Mercer, the owner of California-based Tuscany Tours , which specializes in small-group travel in Italy and France.

When it comes to restaurant meals in those countries, “There’s not a hard and fast rule,” Ms. Mercer said. Her company advises guests to tip 5 to 10 percent at restaurants and give the tip directly to the waiter.

In cafes and cabs, she rounds up and leaves the change.

“France pays its employees a living wage, unlike the U.S.,” wrote Janice Wang, an American living in France who runs a Facebook group for expatriates there, in an email. “Hence, servers, hairdressers and cabdrivers don’t need tips to live. They appreciate them, but don’t need them. And they never expect a tip.”

Tip your guide

Guide services come in many varieties — from a walking tour leader to a mountaineer who helps you navigate a rock face. Travelers might engage their services for a half-day trip, a two-week tour, and everything in between and beyond.

The global tour company Intrepid Travel states on its website that “tipping is never compulsory, but always appreciated,” while also making the point that tips are a big part of a guide’s income, especially in the United States and Southeast Asia. On a multiday small-group trip in the United States, the company suggests tipping $7 to $10 a day.

The tour company Exit Glacier Guides notes that 10 to 20 percent of the trip cost for its wilderness outings is standard where it operates in Seward, Alaska. The tip for a group walk led by a naturalist beside the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park that costs $59 a person would therefore be about $6 to $12 a person.

CIE Tours , which offers group trips in Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Britain, recommends tipping tour leaders and bus drivers the equivalent in local currency of roughly $7 to $10 each a day, depending on the location.

But the platform ToursByLocals , where local residents set prices for their own tours, discourages tips.

“The guides are in essence entrepreneurs, rather than employees, and we suggest that the best tip a traveler can leave is to return to the site and leave a thoughtful review, which will help that guide to grow their business,” wrote Paul Melhus, the co-founder and chief executive of ToursByLocals, in an email.

Free tours make it trickier to calculate tips, even though guides work solely for gratuities. Free Tours by Foot , which offers city walking tours around the world, shies away from any guidance on tipping, noting on its website , “You name the price.”

In an email, a representative in the New York office of the company wrote that the range runs “anywhere from just a thank you to $100,” with the average at $10 to $20 a person.

On its website and in email communications, Free Chicago Walking Tours is more transparent, recommending $10 to $20 a person for the guided walks that generally last two hours. Jeff Mikos, who owns the company, estimates guides average about $10 a guest on groups that can be as big as 30, but are usually closer to half of that.

About a quarter of the group “will be genuine and thankful and won’t tip, and the middle-of-the-pack average is slightly under $10 a person,” Mr. Mikos said. “But there’s always one couple with $50.”

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column. Follow her on Instagram: @eglusac .

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Tip left on top of bill at an outdoor restaurant

Tipping: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers

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Caroline Morse Teel

Caroline Morse Teel is the Managing Editor for SmarterTravel Media. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Travel Smarter! Sign up for our free newsletter.

Knowing who to tip—along with how much to give and when you should hand over the cash—is one of the most stressful parts of traveling. We’re aiming to take the mystery out of tipping with SmarterTravel’s Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers. This guide was designed to clear up confusion around tipping the people you most commonly encounter on your travels, from waiters to hotel housekeeping. 

Tipping expectations vary significantly around the world. These guidelines are based on current US standards for tips, and will be most useful for domestic trips and US-based cruise lines/tour groups/hotel chains.

Two US dollars set beneath a white pillow on white bedsheets

Download Our Foldable Tipping Guide

Folds down to fit in your wallet!

As soon as you enter a hotel, you might have a doorman open the door, a bellhop take your luggage, and a front desk clerk give you an upgrade. Who should you tip at hotels, and how much?

6 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Major Cities

Transportation

Here’s how much to tip everyone who helps you get to where you’re going, from taxi drivers to airport porters.

Restaurants

Tipping at restaurants can be really confusing. Do you have to tip if there is already a “kitchen appreciation fee”? The answer: Yes, because that fee goes toward non-tipped workers in the kitchen, so you’ll still need to tip the waitstaff. Here’s how much to tip everyone at a restaurant.

Airplane Etiquette Violations: 7 Ways to Make Enemies on a Plane

For multi-day trips, most tour companies will offer guidelines for tipping that they will share with you after booking. Here’s how much to tip on shorter tours. 

Many cruise lines will cover the topic of tipping in their FAQ section of their website. This is where you can learn if gratuities are included in the cost of your cruise. Most cruise lines automatically add about $15-$20 per person, per day, to your onboard bill at the end of the trip to cover tips. These gratuities go into a pool that’s split between the people you’d typically tip (like waiters and housekeeping staff.) 

If an employee went above and beyond for you on a cruise, you can tip them a bit extra at the end of your voyage to show your appreciation. 

7 Things You Should Never Do on a Cruise Ship

Should You Tip the Bartender on a Cruise?

Automatic gratuities are typically added on to your bill when you order drinks, so be sure to check your receipt before tipping the bartender. The same goes for spa treatments—tips are usually automatically added.

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The ultimate guide to tipping around the world

Oct 28, 2019 • 19 min read

tipping tour guides america

If you’ve ever found yourself nervously flicking through a stack of notes at the end of a meal when on the road, or fumbling for loose change in the back of a taxi in an unfamiliar city, you’ll understand. Tipping is an elusive custom that seems to change its rules the world over – what is deemed a generous token of appreciation in some countries, can offend the subtle cultural sensibilities of others.

A man, who is dining with a female companion, taps his debit card on a card reader at the end of a meal. Both diners are slightly out of focus, while the card machine appears crisp and sharp. The gent wears a rather nice watch.

To help steer you through the quagmire of uncertainty and doubt that gratuities can throw up, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to tipping around the world. Whilst it’s important to acknowledge that tipping customs are always morphing and developing – particularly under the influence of mass tourism – this guide will shed at least some light on your travel tipping quandaries and monetary confusion, from restaurants and bars to hotels and taxis. And if after reading you’re still in doubt, there’s no need to worry – you’ll find detailed notes on the tipping conventions of your specific destination in the back of your Lonely Planet guidebook  (hint, hint).

A hot chocolate in a green and white mug stands on a tabletop, next to a small dish containing a receipt and some coins, which have presumably been left as a tip.

Restaurants and bars Restaurant tipping in Europe is often misunderstood by non-European visitors, with US tourists in particular applying their own generous tipping culture where it isn’t necessarily appropriate. Many countries within the EU have laws that accommodate and standardise gratuity, and larger tips left after even the heartiest of meals, i.e. 15% and upwards, aren’t necessary.

Generally speaking, most European countries, including France , Germany , Spain , Czech Republic , Hungary , Ireland , Portugal and the UK , will add a service charge to a bill but, if not, leave between 5% and 10% (in local currency cash) unless the service and/or food has been poor. Certain other countries including Italy , Austria and Russia won’t always add service charge or expect a tip, but it is common to round up the bill, as wages in the hospitality industry tend to be lower. If eating in a restaurant in Italy , you may see the word ‘ corperto ’ on your bill – this is ‘cover charge’, but won’t necessarily go to the wait staff, so if you’re keen to tip, do it with cash and give it to your server.

Renowned for being eye-wateringly expensive, you’ll be relieved to note that restaurant tipping in Scandinavia and Iceland isn’t expected, and is usually covered in the overall price of the meal.

Adding tips in European bars isn’t expected, but if you’re feeling a bit generous (read: tipsy) after a few drinks, feel free to round up the bill. Tipping in London pubs (and indeed, pubs in the rest of the UK ) is a bit of a head-scratcher for tourists, but it isn’t commonly done. If you find yourself riding high on the general bonhomie that the traditional British pub is known for, do offer to buy the bartender a drink using the phrase “and one for yourself” (with or without your best attempt at a cockney “guv’nor” following it).

Hotel staff Hotel tipping etiquette for many European countries is fairly similar – note that tipping housekeeping staff here is generally less common than in the USA. In the UK , France , Spain , Italy , Germany , Czech Republic and Hungary , if you feel you want to tip, giving €1 to €2 per bag to porters and around €2 to €5 to housekeeping staff is a good rule. Slightly smaller amounts are required in Balkan and Eastern European countries.

In Russia , hotel staff are used to larger tips – between 200 and 250 rubles for porters and 100 to 200 rubles for housekeeping staff.

In pricey Scandinavia and Iceland , hotel staff do not expect tips as service charges are already included in their wages. The same is true for Switzerland , but here handing the housekeeping staff a small amount (roughly 5 to 10 francs) at the end of your stay will be greatly appreciated, even if not expected.

Tour guides Tour guides and drivers in almost all countries in Europe are tipped separately. In Central and Eastern European countries and Italy , tip both about 10 to 20% per day of the tour depending on how much you enjoyed it. In most Western European countries, including France , Germany , Spain and the UK , a tip of around €25 to €40 (or local currency equivalent) a day for the guide, and €10 to €15 for the driver is fair. Russian guides and drivers may expect slightly more – around 3000 rubles for guides and 2,000 for drivers.

Private car drivers in Turkey will expect significant tips of around 200 to 300 lira per day, whilst group tour guides are usually tipped around 60 to 100 lira, and closer to 450 lira for private tour guides.

In Scandinavian countries and Iceland , tips for tour guides and drivers are not expected, but if you feel your experience warrants it, tipping 10% to both guide and driver is a nice gesture. Alternatively, you can offer to buy them both some lunch.

Taxi drivers Taxi tipping in Europe is straightforward – pretty much across the continent drivers don’t expect tips, but rounding up the fare is customary, even as more and more taxis are being fitted with card machines. The only exceptions to this rule are France , Russia and Switzerland , whereby taxi drivers often expect a 10 to 15% tip at the end of a ride, and Scandinavia and Iceland , where tipping taxi drivers, even by rounding up the fare, is not expected at all.

An arm places a dollar bill into a glass jar, which is labelled with a small sign reading 'tips'.

The Americas

Restaurants and bars For restaurants in the USA and Canada , service charge isn’t always added into the bill, and so tipping is pretty much a foregone conclusion – around 15 to 20% is the norm, unless the meal was truly inedible and/or the waitstaff were obnoxious (then it’s more like 5%...). In bars, tipping around $1 per drink, or 15 to 20% of the total bill is customary.

In Central and South American countries, including Mexico , Nicaragua , Argentina and Peru , service charge is more commonly added, but if you want to tip your waitstaff personally, between 10 to 15% (in local currency or US dollars) is a good amount. In others like Brazil , Chile and Costa Rica , restaurants will often include a 10% ‘sit-down’ charge (‘ cubierto ’ in Chile), meaning that a tip is not expected, but around 5% will still be appreciated if you’d like to give it. Tipping in bars here isn’t the norm, but feel free to round up the overall bill.

If you’re dining in the Caribbean (outside of a fancy resort), check the bill to see if the gratuity has been included already. If not, tip around 15 to 20% in restaurants, or round up the bill at a bar.

Hotel staff Leaving tips for hotel staff in the USA and Canada , particularly housekeeping staff, is common practice. Around $3 to $5 a day for housekeeping staff is a good amount, and $1 per bag for porters. 

Tipping slightly less in Central and South American hotels is fine. US dollars are usually accepted (although local currency is preferred). For porters in countries including Costa Rica , Mexico , Nicaragua , Brazil , Chile , Peru and Colombia , go with the local currency equivalent of $1 per bag for porters and $1 to $2  a day for housekeeping staff. Particularly in South America, rural haciendas are popular accommodation options. These are usually tended by a family of staff who will cook, clean and maintain the gardens, so leaving a pooled tip at the end of your stay of around $10 to $15 (or the local currency equivalent) per guest is appreciated.

Tour guides When embarking upon an organised tour in the USA , Canada or Colombia , you can expect similar tipping etiquette – about $10 to $20 in local currency for a tour guide per day, and around $5 to $10 for a driver. As in Europe, both guides and drivers are tipped separately. 

In most Central and South American countries, tour guides are tipped around $5 to $10 (or local currency equivalent) for a day’s work, whilst drivers are accustomed to receiving half that. Note that slightly different rules apply for Andes Trek and Inca Trail porters – this is covered in the last section.

The exception to the general South America tipping rule (aside from Colombia), is Brazil . Here, tourism industry professionals rely heavily on tips, and more generous amounts are appreciated. Think around 100 to 200 reals for a tour guide per day, and slightly less for drivers. It’s also worth noting that Brazilians are very discreet when it comes to business transactions, so don’t make your generous tipping too obvious!

Caribbean bus tours are a popular way to see different parts of whichever island you’re staying on and, if you choose to hop aboard one, tipping the driver a few US dollars is customary. For private tour guides, tip about $20 a day and for drivers around $10.

Taxi drivers  In the USA , Canada and the Caribbean , tipping taxi drivers about 10 to 15% of your fare is the norm, or a couple of dollar bills will suffice for short journeys. 

Taxi rides in Central and South America fall into two camps when it comes to tipping expectations. If you’ve pre-negotiated (or haggled) the fare before getting into the taxi, don’t worry about tipping unless you formed a particularly strong bond with the driver. If the fare is fixed, feel free to round it up at the end of the journey.

A top-down shot of a woman counting money at a food stall. The stall is filled with trays of colourful, Asian-style cuisine.

Restaurants and bars China , Myanmar , Singapore and Taiwan do not have a strong tipping culture, and so leaving extra money at the end of the meal, or in a bar, is largely deemed unnecessary. However, influenced by the influx of overseas tourists into larger cities, some chic new restaurants in China are starting to accept small tips when offered. The same ever-increasing numbers of tourists in much of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia , Thailand , Vietnam , Indonesia and Malaysia are becoming more and more accustomed to receiving tips, but they still aren’t expected and not leaving one is fine.

In India , service staff have become used to tips from tourists, despite tipping not traditionally being part of Indian culture. In more established restaurants (where service charge is not included), leave 5 to 10% if you really enjoyed the meal, and in smaller, less formal places, either leave a few coins or round up the bill. You can also tip bartenders up to 10% if they’ve really put in the hours serving you.

Other Asian countries, including Japan and Nepal , believe that tipping is only for exceptionally good service – being treated with hospitality and warmth is the norm and shouldn’t be ‘rewarded’. In Japan, some servers might even politely refuse a tip if you leave one.

Hotel staff China ’s no tipping culture prevails when it comes to hotels, but if you’re living the high life in a particularly luxurious establishment, feel free to tip the porter around 5 yuan per bag. You may also find that in high-end hotels, a 10% service charge will be added to the overall bill. Japanese hotels also do not expect their staff to be tipped, particularly in a traditional ryokan  (inn). If you feel particularly inclined, leave around 5000 yen (for a short stay) in an envelope, but it may be politely refused if you hand it over in person. 

India ’s hotel staff are notoriously poorly paid, and so tipping the porter about 50 rupees per bag, and the housekeeping staff 250 rupees a day are particularly welcome gestures.

Throughout most of Southeast Asia, including Thailand , Cambodia , Indonesia , the Philippines , Singapore , Vietnam and Malaysia , a service charge will almost always be included in your overall bill upon check out, and so tips are not expected, although it isn’t uncommon to tip porters the local currency equivalent of $1 per bag. Tipping housekeeping staff is less common but, if you feel you want to, the local currency equivalent of a couple of US dollars per night is fine.

Tour guides As you can probably guess by now, tour guides and drivers in China do not expect tips. South Korean and Taiwanese tour guides do expect to take home a little extra on organised excursions – around 10% of the tour cost is fine to split between the guide and driver. In Japan , tip tour guides around 2500 to 5000 yen for a full day, handed over in an envelope. If you’re using a private driver, it’s a nice gesture to offer to buy them lunch.

A general rule of thumb in India is to tip between 300 to 500 rupees a day for guides and 100 to 200 rupees for drivers.

In Singapore and the Philippines , tipping tour guides and drivers a combined 10% of the overall tour cost is fair – they should split it between themselves. Other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand , Vietnam , Malaysia , Cambodia and Indonesia observe a convention of tipping around $10 to $20 (in local currency) for a tour guide per day, and half of that amount for the driver. It’s customary to give the total tipping amount to the guide, who will then siphon off some for the driver.

Taxi drivers No tips are expected by taxi drivers in China or South Korea , but rounding up the fare is standard practice in Japan . Indian taxi and rickshaw drivers are not accustomed to tips (however much they will insist otherwise), but telling them to keep the change is a genial gesture.

In Cambodia and Thailand , the local currency equivalent of $1 is a good tip for taxi and tuk tuk drivers, whilst in Indonesia , the Philippines and Malaysia , a 10% tip for fixed-fare rides is standard. In Singapore and Vietnam , simply round up the fare or offer the driver to keep the change.

Two women consult with a tuk tuk driver at the side of a road in Bangkok. The small, striking vehicle is painted yellow and blue.

The Middle East

Restaurants and bars In the UAE , Qatar , Jordan and Saudi Arabia , servers in restaurants will expect a 10 to 15% tip at the end of a meal. Even in Dubai , where the government mandates 10% being added to bills at restaurants, hotels and bars, waitstaff will still expect a tip of up to 15%, or even 20%.

Restaurants in Israel will often add a 10% service charge to bills in restaurants and bars, so always check before you start counting out your notes to avoid unnecessary double tipping.

Hotel staff Dubai ’s government-mandated 10% service charge at hotels means that tipping is primarily reserved for those who are feeling particularly flash. In the rest of the UAE , concierges expect a tip for significant requests, like securing a table at a popular restaurant or organising a tour – between 100 and 120 dirhams should suffice. Tip porters around 7 dirhams per bag, and housekeeping staff around 10 to 11 dirhams per day.

In other popular Middle Eastern holiday destinations including Jordan and Israel , tip the local currency equivalent of $1.50 per bag for porters, the same per day for housekeeping, and around $2 to the concierge for small favours if you require them.

Tour guides In Dubai , the rest of the UAE and Qatar , tipping a tour guide the local currency equivalent of around $10 to $15, and a private driver half that amount is a good way to go. After an excursion in other popular tourist countries in the Middle East, including Israel and Jordan , a slightly larger tip of between $25 to $35 (in local currency) for guides and $35 to $45 for driver guides is appropriate.

Taxi drivers Dubai taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but round up the fare if you’re feeling generous. In most other Middle Eastern countries, including the rest of the UAE , Israel , Jordan , Qatar and Saudi Arabia , tip taxi drivers around 10 to 15% of the overall fare.

A concierge and bellboy wait at the entrance to a hotel. Both are dressed in brown suits, with their backs to the camera. One wears a smart grey top hat. Through the glass doors some greenery is visible.

Restaurants and bars Popular restaurants and bars in holiday hotspots like Egypt , Morocco and South Africa will add a 10% service charge to the bill. If there isn’t one, it’s common to leave a tip of around 10 to 15% if you were happy with your meal.

Throughout the rest of Africa , for the most part, leaving 10 to 15% is a normal tip for good service in restaurants, as is rounding up the bill in bars. Waitstaff and bar staff across much of Africa often earn a very basic living wage, therefore tips are a hugely welcome supplement.

Hotel staff In certain northern African destinations like Egypt and Morocco , hotel concierges are powerful forces. Tip them generously (around the local currency equivalent of $15 to $20) at the start of your stay to ensure good service for the duration. Housekeeping staff should be tipped about $3 to $5 a day in local currency, and porters $1 per bag. 

Throughout Africa’s popular tourist destinations, including South Africa , Kenya and Tanzania , hotels will expect small tips of $1 in local currency to the porter for each bag, and to housekeeping staff each day. Concierges can be useful for pulling strings in these countries, so feel free to tip them around $3 to $5 in local currency for any favours they do for you. Luxury safari camps will often provide a general tipping box at the front desk, and anything placed into this box should be spread evenly among the camp’s staff. If you wish to tip a certain member of staff specifically, make sure you hand it to them in person.

Tour guides When taking tours in North African countries, $20 a day (in local currency) is a good amount to tip guides and driver guides, while drivers can be tipped a bit less. In Morocco particularly, tipping of this nature is best done discreetly.

In other African countries where you might embark on an excursion, tipping about 10% of the overall cost to tour guides and drivers is appreciated. On safari drives, the general idea is to tip your guide the local currency equivalent of $10, and your tracker $5 per day, but give these as cumulative tips at the end of the safari.

Taxi drivers Throughout most of the African continent, the norm when it comes to tipping taxi drivers is to round up the final fare, or tell the driver to keep the change. In countries more accustomed to mass tourism, like Egypt and South Africa , drivers will usually expect a 10% tip at the end of a journey.

A group of hikers ascend a rocky mountain in Albania.

Restaurants and bars As staff in the hospitality industry are generally assumed to earn a decent wage in Australia and New Zealand , tipping in restaurants and bars here is not expected, but a standard 10 to 15% is appreciated if you feel the experience warrants it.

On the South Pacific Islands , tipping in restaurants and bars is even less of a concern, as the practice is not part of the indigenous cultures. That said, if you visit a particularly swanky restaurant and have your mind blown with incredible food and service, do feel free to add on 10% to the overall bill, as much as it won’t be expected.

Hotel staff Australia and New Zealand ’s hotel staff are used to fairly standard tips – think around $1 (in either Australian or NZ dollars) per bag for porters and $3 to $5 a day for housekeeping staff.

The South Pacific Islands take a more hospitable stance – when you initially check into your hotel you are considered an honoured guest, and if you stay a second time, family. Suffice it to say, neither of these are expected to tip. If you do feel you want to reward particular staff members financially however, do it face-to-face, otherwise it won’t be taken. This is particularly true of housekeeping staff.

Tour guides Tour guides and private drivers in Australia and New Zealand should be tipped between $20 and $50 (in local currency) per day, whilst bus tour operators can be given around a $5 to $10 tip for a day’s work. 

If you’ve been given a particularly good tour guide or private driver in the South Pacific Islands , showing your appreciation with a tip is acceptable, if not expected. The amount is up to you, but always tip in local currency, as US dollars are hard to trade.

Taxi drivers Similarly, drivers in Australia , New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands will not expect you to tip at the end of a taxi ride, but rounding up the fare to the nearest $1 to $5 is common practice. 

A male gondolier steers a boat through a narrow canal in Venice. The gondolier wears a black and white striped t-shirt, with black trousers. In the background, a number of people can be seen walking across a bridge that spans the canal.

Other top troublesome tipping questions:

How much should you tip for ‘free’ walking tours? A sightseeing option in many major cities worldwide, free walking tours are offered by various companies, but are united in their ‘pay what you want’ approach. Often led by locals, the tours are generally a couple of hours long, consisting of a predetermined, walking route that takes in specific city sites. Attendees are then asked at the end of the tour to leave tips of an unspecified amount if they feel inclined. Theoretically these tours are free, in that you are not obligated to leave any money at all at the end. However, it is generally expected that if you have stayed for the duration of the tour, you should leave the guide with something. A good rule of thumb is to tip the local currency equivalent of around $5 to $10 per person, but you are, of course, welcome to leave more.

Should you tip gondoliers in Venice? Contrary to popular opinion, tipping gondoliers in Venice isn’t really customary, but by all means leave a few euros if you’re feeling flush.

How much should you leave when visiting a mosque or a temple? There isn’t really a hard-and-fast rule here, but try leaving the local currency equivalent of $1 to the person handing out robes and scarves to women, and 50 cents to the person who minds the shoes if there is one.

How much should you tip for a Thai massage? If you grab a quick massage on the Khao San Road or similar, don’t feel obliged to tip more than about 30 baht. If you indulge in a more upmarket massage, your tip should be more around the 150 to 300 baht mark. Resorts and retreats that include multiple treatments will usually state the tipping policy upfront.

How much should you tip Inca Trail porters? The wages of brawny local porters who lug your bags and camping equipment along hiking routes such as the Inca Trail , are often included in a guided tour, but their truly invaluable work shouldn’t go untipped – around 15 to 20 nuevo soles per person, per day, is a good amount to give. 

When should you give baksheesh? When travelling in the Middle East and South Asia, you will often be asked for ‘baksheesh’. The term often applies to a simple gratuity or service charge, but can refer to all kinds of financial tokens of appreciation. If someone asks you for baksheesh without providing a service, this is considered begging, and so giving money is completely at your discretion, although not usually advisable. Baksheesh can be politely asked for by those who have provided a service, but it can be refused at any time and – like almost all tipping customs – is not mandatory, whatever you may be lead to believe. 

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Tipping in Colombia: Your complete guide (2023)

Wondering about tipping in Colombia?

Perhaps you’re planning a trip and curious if you need to tip at restaurants, tip tour guides, tip taxi drivers, or who else you need to tip in Colombia.

There are a handful of times when it is expected that you leave a gratuity, especially at restaurants, but the tip is usually included when it’s expected. However, some situations fall into a bit of a gray area where you might decide tipping in Colombia is appropriate.

Read on to learn all about when you should leave a gratuity in Colombia.

Is it customary to tip in Colombia?

Yes and no. Tipping is generally expected at sit-down restaurants where someone waits on you or bars and nightclubs with table service, although you can decline to do so if you choose.

For most other services, it is generally not expected that you tip, but people often appreciate it, and in a handful of cases there may be a bit of an expectation of a tip.

Read: Peru vs Colombia

What is tipping etiquette in Colombia?

Tipping etiquette in Colombia is technically optional. You may hear a tip referred to as a  propana  but also as a  propina voluntaria  or  servicio voluntario (voluntary tip). The tipping etiquette in Colombia is to tip is at a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, or anywhere you have been waited on. Unless the service was exceptionally bad, you should leave 10 percent.

In other cases, such as tour guides, drivers, or hotel staff, you might hear someone casually suggest or ask for a tip by saying “ la propina es voluntaria, ” or “the tip is voluntary.”

You shouldn’t feel pressured to leave a gratuity, if you have received exceptional service, it would generally be good tipping etiquette in Colombia to leave them with a small tip.

Tipping in Colombia is a great way to show your gratitude for the services provided

Tipping in Colombia restaurants

It is customary to tip in Colombia at sit-down restaurants. At some smaller, traditional places, it might not be expected, but at most restaurants in tourist areas, a 10 percent tip is generally expected.

However, as noted above, this tip is technically voluntary. Oftentimes, the waiter or waitress will ask you if you would like to include it in your bill either when you ask for your tab or when you pay using a card.

How much should I tip in Colombia restaurants?

Despite its voluntary nature, it is also often automatically included in bills at many Colombia restaurants. When this is the case, it’s 10 percent and you should see it listed near the bottom of your bill. Do be sure to check if it was included or not.

What if a tip is already included in my bill?

If you are dining in Colombia and a tip is included automatically, you can decline it, although if it is automatically included or the waiter or waitress asks you if you would like to include it, it is generally a sign that it is expected.

If a tip is not included and the waiter or waitress doesn’t mention it, it is most likely not necessary or expected. This is most common in smaller, mom-and-pop style restaurants. Still, leaving 10 percent or even just a few thousand pesos are likely to be seen as a generous gesture by your waiter or waitress.

✅ You should only decline it if you feel you received unacceptable service or it would be bad etiquette.

Can I add a tip to my credit card when paying in Colombia restaurants?

One thing worth pointing out is that unlike in the US or some other countries if you are paying with a card, there is no way to add a custom tip and tally up a total. It is either included as the 10 percent customary tip in Colombia when they run your card or not.

Of course, you can always choose to leave an additional tip with cash if you feel you received exceptional service. In this case, anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 additional pesos would be a nice gesture to your server.

Colombia is one of the most popular destinations in South America, but before visiting it you need to get familiar with Colombia tipping etiquette.

Tipping taxi drivers in Colombia

It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers in Colombia. That being said, many times taxi drivers do not have exact change, so it can be easier to leave a tip by just rounding up to the nearest thousand pesos.

If you would like to give a small tip of $1,000-5,000 Pesos, they will of course appreciate it, but it’s not expected. In cases where they have perhaps waited on you or helped you load lots of bags, it would be totally appropriate to tip them.

Tipping Uber drivers in Colombia

If you are using a ride-share app like Uber, EasyTaxi, Did, or InDriver in Colombia, the best practice would be to give the standard tip that the app suggests if it suggests one.

How much to tip private drivers in Colombia?

If you have contracted a private driver, it falls into a bit of a gray area. If it is just a one-way trip, it is not necessary to tip them. If you have the same driver all day or over multiple days, and they have waited on you at places, it would be a nice gesture to tip them, especially if you feel you received good service.

Tipping tour guides in Colombia

Similar to private drivers, tour guides fall into a bit of a gray area. Generally, it will not be seen as rude to not tip a tour guide in Colombia.

However, if you feel the guide was good and personable, it would be good tipping etiquette in Colombia to give them a tip. Sometimes on group tours, someone will offer to collect tips. In this case, $2,000-5,000 Pesos is fine. For a private tour, leave $20,000-50,000 Pesos, depending on the length and type of tour.

Tipping street food vendors in Colombia

It is not expected to tip street food vendors in Colombia. It’s also not particularly common to see tip jars or cups. If you see one and want to leave the coins you receive as change, you can, but it’s not necessary.

Tipping bellboys/porters in Colombia

Bellboys and porters are not very common at cheaper and mid-tier hotels in Colombia. You will see them at higher-end places such as some  Cartagena boutique hotels  or luxury hotels in Bogotá and Medellín though.

In these cases, a tip of $5,000-10,000 pesos would be a fine tip for carrying your bags to your room.

Tipping hotel staff in Colombia

Besides bellboys or porters that carry bags to your room or staff that waits on you in restaurants or other situations such as serving drinks at  Cartagena beach resorts , you are not expected to tip other hotel staff in Colombia.

For bellboys and porters, follow the above advice, and for waiters or servers, 10 percent is acceptable with the option to leave a little more if the service was exceptional. Be sure to check if the standard 10 percent was included in your bill or not.

Tipping housekeepers in Colombia

It is not necessary or expected that you tip housekeepers in Colombia. If you have an exceptionally long stay in a place or you made an exceptionally bad mess, it would be a nice gesture to leave a tip, but generally, it is not customary.

Tipping in Colombia: an overview

The general rules about tipping in Colombia above apply country-wide. In smaller towns and less touristy areas, it is less common to see the 10 percent tip automatically included in bills at restaurants but in most larger cities it is very common, especially in nicer places.

In Cartagena and Medellín, the country’s largest tourist destinations, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Bogotá, it is more common to hear tour guides or drivers suggest a tip but it is still optional.

Tipping in Cartagena

In almost all the  best restaurants in Cartagena , you’ll see the 10 percent tip included in your bill. With such a large tourist industry, you’ll generally see it’s included automatically in the tourist areas of the city.

Due to a large number of tourists, there is an expectation that you tip for other things such as tour guides in Cartagena too.

Tipping beach vendors in Cartagena

One thing to watch out for is food vendors on the beach. They sometimes charge exorbitantly high prices, and, in some cases, they insist you pay one tip for the restaurant where the food was prepared plus another tip for them for bringing you the food, which adds up to more than the customary 10 percent. Agree on the prices beforehand and ask if they charge a service fee for bringing you food.

Tipping street performers in Colombia

Another thing to watch out for is street performers, especially rappers. It’s not uncommon for streets performers in Colombia to approach you on the street and try to give you a special mini performance.

While they can be entertaining, they can also be a nuisance. If you are not interested, ignore them or say “ no, gracias ” which is the best way to deal with street vendors in general. If you do listen and engage with them, be sure to give them a small tip. $2,000-5,000 Pesos is more than enough.

Tipping taxi drivers in Cartagena

Cartagena taxis don’t have meters like Bogotá and Medellín. There are technically legally defined prices, but it’s common for taxi drivers to overcharge. It’s also common for them not to have, or pretend not to have change. For trips within the tourist area of Cartagena, leave $8,000-12,000 Pesos with a bit of an additional premium at night.

How much does it cost to get from Cartagena Airport to the city

Expect to pay $15,000-$25,000 Pesos to get from Cartagena Airport to the city. Be sure to agree on a price before getting into the taxi.

Tipping in Medellin

In Medellín, there is a bit less of a tipping culture than in Cartagena, but it is still expected that you tip the customary 10 percent in most mid-tier and up restaurants, especially including any that cater to tourists.

Tipping in Cali

In Cali, which draws fewer tourists than Cartagena or Medellín, you are more likely to find smaller, local restaurants that may not include the 10 percent tip and where it may not be as strongly expected. In higher-end restaurants and nightclubs, you will likely see a tip included in your bill.

Tipping in Bogota

Bogotá is similar to Cali, in that you will find lots of smaller, local establishments that may not include the 10 percent tip but in the nicer middle to upscale places, you will see it included in your bill and the expectation is that you pay it unless receiving very bad service.

Tipping in Colombia is expected in restaurants, tours and hotels.

What to know about tipping in Colombia?

The most important things to know about tipping in Colombia are:

  • In most restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, a 10 percent tip is customary.
  • In many cases, this tip is automatically included, while in others, they will ask if you want to include it, so be sure to check if it was included or not.
  • This tip is technically voluntary and can be declined if service was bad.
  • It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers, housekeepers, or other general hotel staff.
  • A small tip of a few thousand pesos for carrying bags is not always expected but is a nice gesture for bellboys and porters.
  • Although not obligatory, it is a common and nice gesture to tip tour guides in Colombia.

You don't need to tip street food vendors in Colombia.

Tipping in Colombia: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions to clarify any doubts you might have.

How much do you tip in Colombia?

10% is considered the customary tip for service in restaurants in Colombia. Anything over 10% would be seen as generous and a nice gesture for receiving good service.

For other services such as bell boys, porters, and large group tour guides, a tip of $2,000-10,000 pesos would be seen as a nice gesture, while $20,000 or more would be seen as generous for a private tour.

Can you tip US dollars in Colombia?

It is best not to tip in US dollars in Colombia. Generally, US dollars are not accepted at restaurants and other businesses in Colombia, so it is best to have Colombian pesos anyways.

If you are only in Colombia for a shore excursion during a cruise to Cartagena, tipping a tour guide or taxi driver in US dollars would be fine. In other cases, tip in Colombian pesos.

Tipping in Colombia: final word

Tipping in Colombia is most important and generally only necessary at restaurants where 10 percent is customary. However, it is seen as good etiquette, not to mention generous, to tip people for carrying your bags and to tip tour guides. In the very touristy Cartagena, you may get more indirect pressure to tip than in other areas of Colombia.

This post was contributed by Adam McConnaughhay. He writes about Cartagena and other destinations in Colombia at  CartagenaExplorer.com

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Should you tip your tour leader? Here’s what we think.

Two yound travellers with their local leader in Egypt

Tipping is one of those topics than tends to split travellers into tribes: the Pro Tippers and the I’ve-Already-Paid-For-This-Service-Thank-You Anti-Tippers.

Usually the divide is simple: travellers who come from countries that tip versus travellers who didn’t grow up with a tipping culture. But it can be a thorny question. What are the rules? How much should you tip (if at all)? What are the consequences if you get it wrong?

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We’ve already written a bit about tipping in America and Vietnam (and Smarter Travel has some good general advice) but today we’re talking about small group travel. In particular: whether or not to tip your tour leader.

Our position

A group of young travellers with their leader in Budapest

We work closely with local unions and abide by regional laws on wages to make sure every local leader and porter gets a fair and decent wage. But tipping is still a big part of leaders’ overall income. Particularly in cultures where tipping is entrenched in the tourism industry, like America and South East Asia.

RELATED: HOW TO BUDGET LIKE A BOSS, SPEND LIKE A LOCAL ON YOUR NEXT BIG ADVENTURE

Why tipping matters

A smiling tour leader in Mexico

But beyond good manners, tipping injects cash into the local economy, which is really the big benefit of small group tourism. By tipping in local currency, you’re making sure money is going to those who deserve it most. Tips don’t pass through any third party (not even Intrepid). They either go straight to the leader, or get divided up among your porters and local guides.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR LOCAL LEADERS HERE

Do I have to tip?

Travellers with their leader in Petra

All we ask is that you research the effects of tipping before making up your mind. And if you still don’t want to tip, find some other way to show your gratitude. Your local leader will really appreciate it.

RELATED: 12 COMMON (AND EXPENSIVE) TRAVEL MISTAKES – AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

How much should I tip?

An Intrepid leader with a family group in Egypt

If you haven’t been on an Intrepid trip before, and the idea of tipping is giving you mild anxiety, this is generally what happens: on the last day, over lunch or dinner, the group covertly gets together (like an office organising a colleague’s surprise party). Some discuss how much they’re thinking of tipping (talking about money can be awkward, so some travellers just put in what they feel), and there’s a quick whip-around in an envelope, which gets presented to the leader at the completion of the tour. It’s also fine to give your own tip separately from the rest of the group. The amount each traveller tips is usually anonymous.

A female truck driver in Kenya

How much you put in is up to you. Chat it over with your group. See what you think is fair. Whatever amount you decide on, we can almost guarantee it will make a substantial difference to your leader.

If I don’t feel like tipping, what should I do?

People clinking their wine glasses in Hungary

If you’d like some more info on tipping, or anything else to do with Intrepid leaders, check out our FAQ page. There’s some good general advice there.

Interesting in exploring the world on an Intrepid small group adventure? Search our range of tours now . 

All images C/O Intrepid Travel. 

Feeling inspired?

tipping tour guides america

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid has been leading small group adventures for over 30 years. We’re the world’s biggest travel B Corp. That means we want to be the best travel company not just in the world, but for the world. To create positive change through the joy of travel. You can read our latest adventures right here.

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How Much To Tip A Tour Guide In Costa Rica

Published: December 12, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Karla Cota

  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Guide
  • Travel Tips

how-much-to-tip-a-tour-guide-in-costa-rica

Introduction

Costa Rica is a country known for its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich culture. It is a top destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts from around the globe. When visiting this beautiful country, it is common for travelers to hire tour guides to enhance their experience and explore the hidden gems that Costa Rica has to offer.

While tour guides are professionals who provide valuable insight and knowledge about the country, it is important to consider the appropriate etiquette when it comes to tipping them. Tipping is a way to show appreciation for excellent service and is a customary practice in many parts of the world. In Costa Rica, tipping tour guides is both appreciated and expected, as it is a significant source of income for them.

In this article, we will explore the role of a tour guide in Costa Rica, factors to consider when deciding how much to tip, recommended tipping guidelines, cultural differences related to tipping, and additional tips for showing appreciation to your tour guide.

Understanding the Role of a Tour Guide in Costa Rica

A tour guide in Costa Rica plays a vital role in making your travel experience memorable and enriching. They are knowledgeable professionals who provide guidance, information, and assistance during your excursions. Here are some key aspects of their role:

  • Information and Education: Tour guides are well-versed in the history, culture, and natural wonders of Costa Rica. They share interesting facts, stories, and explanations about the places you visit, giving you a deeper understanding of the country and its attractions.
  • Safety and Convenience: Tour guides prioritize your safety and comfort throughout the journey. They take care of all logistics, including transportation, entrance fees, and scheduling, allowing you to relax and enjoy the experience.
  • Local Insights: Tour guides have an intimate knowledge of the best spots to visit, hidden trails, and local experiences that may not be easily accessible or known to outsiders. They can take you off the beaten path to explore the authentic beauty of Costa Rica.
  • Wildlife Spotting: Costa Rica boasts a rich biodiversity, and tour guides are trained to spot the diverse range of flora and fauna. They can help you spot monkeys, sloths, colorful birds, and other fascinating creatures that call the country their home.
  • Cultural Immersion: Tour guides provide opportunities for cultural interactions and engagement with local communities. They may introduce you to traditional customs, cuisine, and indigenous traditions, providing a deeper connection to the local way of life.

By understanding the crucial role of a tour guide, you can appreciate the value they bring to your trip and why tipping them is an important gesture of gratitude.

Factors to Consider When Deciding How Much to Tip

Deciding how much to tip your tour guide in Costa Rica can be influenced by several factors. While there is no strict rule or fixed percentage, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Quality of Service: The level of service provided by your tour guide is a significant factor in determining the tip amount. If they go above and beyond to ensure an exceptional experience, consider rewarding their efforts accordingly.
  • Duration of the Tour: Longer tours generally warrant a higher tip, as the tour guide is dedicating more time and energy to make your experience memorable.
  • Group Size: If you are part of a larger group, it is customary to tip a higher amount to compensate for the additional effort required by the tour guide to manage the larger group.
  • Expertise and Knowledge: Take into account the depth of knowledge and expertise demonstrated by your tour guide. If they provide valuable insights and enrich your understanding of the destinations, consider tipping accordingly.
  • Personal Connection: If your tour guide establishes a personal connection and makes you feel welcome and engaged throughout the tour, you may feel inclined to show your appreciation with a generous tip.

It is important to note that while tipping is customary, it is ultimately a personal decision. Consider your budget and the overall value you received from the tour when determining an appropriate tip amount. Remember, even a small tip can be greatly appreciated and meaningful to your tour guide.

Recommended Tipping Guidelines for Tour Guides in Costa Rica

When it comes to tipping your tour guide in Costa Rica, it is important to be mindful of local customs and norms. While there are no strict rules, the following tipping guidelines are generally considered fair and appropriate:

  • For group tours: A recommended tip is around 10-15% of the total tour cost. If you had an exceptional experience, consider tipping on the higher end of this range.
  • For private or customized tours: A tip of 15-20% of the tour cost is a common practice. Keep in mind that private tours often provide a more personalized experience, and a higher tip reflects your appreciation for the tailored service.
  • For day trips or short tours: A tip of $5-10 per person is a reasonable amount. This shows your gratitude for the tour guide’s efforts, even for a shorter duration.
  • For multi-day tours: A daily tip of $10-15 per person is a good guideline to follow. Adjust the amount based on the length of the tour and the level of service provided.

Remember, these are just recommendations, and you can always adjust the tip amount based on your satisfaction and the overall experience. If you had a truly exceptional tour guide or want to reward outstanding service, feel free to be more generous with your tip.

It is worth mentioning that some tour companies already include a service charge or tipping pool, so be sure to check their policies before tipping. Additionally, if your tour guide goes above and beyond their regular duties or provides additional assistance during your trip, consider giving them an extra tip as a token of appreciation.

Lastly, it is wise to carry some small denomination bills in local currency, such as Costa Rican colónes, to facilitate tipping.

Cultural Differences and Customs Related to Tipping

Understanding the cultural differences and customs related to tipping in Costa Rica is important to ensure you navigate the tipping etiquette appropriately. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Tipping is Expected: Tipping is considered customary and expected in Costa Rica, especially in the tourism industry. Tour guides rely on tips as a significant part of their income, so it is important to include it as part of your budget when planning your trip.
  • Include the Tipping Amount in Cash: It is customary to tip in cash, preferably in the local currency (Costa Rican colónes). While some tour guides may accept tips via credit card, it is best to have cash on hand to show your appreciation.
  • Round Up the Bill: If you are dining at a restaurant and receive good service, it is common to round up the bill as an additional tip. For example, if your bill is 18,500 colónes, you can round it up to 20,000 colónes, leaving the extra amount as a tip.
  • Consider the Service Charge: In some restaurants or hotels, a service charge or gratuity may be included in the bill. Be sure to check if this is the case and adjust your tip accordingly. If the service charge is already included, you can still leave a small additional tip as a gesture of appreciation.
  • Respect the Local Culture: Costa Ricans are known for their warm and friendly nature. Show respect and gratitude to your tour guide with a genuine thank you and a smile. While tipping is important, a kind gesture and acknowledgment of their hard work can go a long way in establishing a positive connection.

Remember that tipping customs can vary from country to country, so it is important to be aware of the local practices during your travels in Costa Rica.

By adhering to these cultural differences and customs, you not only show your appreciation for the service provided but also demonstrate respect for the local customs and values of Costa Rica.

Additional Tips for Showing Appreciation to Your Tour Guide

While tipping is a common way to show appreciation to your tour guide in Costa Rica, there are additional ways to express gratitude for their outstanding service. Consider these additional tips to make your tour guide feel valued and appreciated:

  • Write a Positive Review: After your tour, take the time to write a positive review about your experience and highlight the exceptional service provided by your tour guide. This can help them gain recognition and attract more clients in the future.
  • Recommendations and Referrals: If you were truly impressed by your tour guide, spread the word among friends, family, or on travel forums. Referring them to others can bring them more business and opportunities.
  • Show Interest and Engage: During the tour, show a genuine interest in the information shared by your guide. Ask questions, actively participate, and engage with the topics discussed. This demonstrates your appreciation for their knowledge and expertise.
  • Share Personal Experiences: Share your personal experiences and stories with your tour guide. This helps foster a connection and allows them to get to know you better. Building a personal relationship can enhance the overall tour experience.
  • Gifts or Souvenirs: Consider bringing a small gift or souvenir that represents your home country or culture as a token of appreciation. They will appreciate the gesture and it can serve as a reminder of your time together.
  • Show Respect for the Environment and Culture: Respect the local culture, customs, and environment during your tour. Follow the guidelines given by your tour guide and be mindful of the impact you have on the surroundings. This shows your appreciation for the efforts made to preserve the beauty of Costa Rica.

Remember, these additional tips complement the act of tipping and help create a positive and memorable experience for both you and your tour guide. Showing genuine appreciation and respect not only makes the tour more enjoyable but also encourages the preservation of the country’s natural and cultural heritage.

Tipping your tour guide in Costa Rica is a customary practice that shows appreciation for their hard work and exceptional service. By understanding the role of a tour guide and considering the factors that influence tipping, you can make an informed decision on how much to tip.

Recommended tipping guidelines suggest a range based on the type of tour and the level of service provided. However, it is ultimately up to you to determine the appropriate tip amount based on your satisfaction and the overall experience.

Additionally, being aware of the cultural differences and customs related to tipping in Costa Rica is crucial. Tipping in cash, rounding up the bill, and respecting local customs are all important aspects to keep in mind.

While tipping is important, there are also additional ways to show your appreciation, such as writing a positive review, providing recommendations, engaging with your guide, and respecting the environment and culture.

In conclusion, tipping your tour guide in Costa Rica is a thoughtful gesture that recognizes their hard work and dedication. By showing your gratitude, you not only contribute to their livelihood but also foster a positive connection, making your travel experience even more memorable and enjoyable.

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South American Vacations

Home » Blog » A Guide To Tipping In South America

A Guide To Tipping In South America

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Tipping isn’t a big part of South American culture, at least not to the same extent as in, for example, the United States. But there are certain circumstances when a tip is expected, and, of course, plenty of opportunities to express your gratitude with a friendly propina (in Spanish-speaking countries) or gorjeta (Portuguese).

Apart from where, when and how much to tip, one of the key things to remember is to always carry small change with you, both for tipping and for small purchases. In many South American countries, small change is in short supply, sometimes making it tricky to pay with larger notes. This is particularly true when you want to leave a tip but don’t have change, which can be slightly awkward.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Restaurants and Bars
  • 3. Taxi Drivers
  • 4. Tour Guides

Restaurants and Bars

As a general rule, tipping 10% works in most restaurants in South America, especially in more upscale establishments. Many locals won’t tip in smaller family-run restaurants, such as the ubiquitous lunchtime menú restaurants in Peru, but a small tip is always appreciated.

In Brazil you’ll often find a 10% serviço charge included in the bill. You also need to check the bill in Chile and Colombia, where many restaurants include a tip of around 10%. Upscale restaurants in Chile might also include a 5% to 7% cubierto , a type of sit-down charge. You can still tip more in these countries, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Tipping is very rarely expected in bars in South America, but a small tip given to the barman might result in a stronger drink the next time around.

If a porter carries your bag(s) to your room, a tip of up to $1 (or the equivalent in local currency) is fairly standard. If you’re staying in a 4- or 5-star hotel, then maybe $2. If a doorman hails you a cab, a tip of around $1 is a nice gesture. Many people also leave a tip for the cleaning staff, which is normally around $1 per day. It’s normally best to leave this tip at the end of your stay, either giving it directly to the cleaning staff or leaving it in a marked envelope at the front desk.

Taxi Drivers

You don’t need to tip taxi drivers in South America. Some countries, like Colombia and Paraguay, have taxis fitted with meters. In this case, you can round up the fare if you want to leave a small tip. In other countries, like Peru, you negotiate the fair before you get in. Don’t be afraid to haggle in these circumstances, as many taxi drivers try to up their prices for foreign tourists. Leave a tip at the end of the ride if you like, but it’s not expected and, again, there’s a good chance you’re being overcharged anyway, especially if you don’t really know how much you should be paying (ideally, ask at your hotel how much the fare should be before you hail a cab, or ask them to call a taxi for you).

If a taxi driver is particularly helpful, funny or does a good job pointing out various points of interest on the way, then it’s a nice gesture to leave a small tip. Some drivers will also help you with your bags, in which case a small tip is appropriate, especially if they carry your bags inside your hotel lobby.

Tour Guides

Tipping tour guides is probably the most complicated tipping situation in South America, simply due to the many different types of tours available. If you’re doing a multi-day trek like the Inca Trail, then it’s standard practice to gather up money from all of the trekkers to distribute among the guide(s), porters, chef and driver on the final day of the trek. The best thing to do is to ask your tour operator how much they recommend for tips before you set off.

As a general point of reference, you should think of tipping tour guides around $10 per day. If it’s a challenging multiday trek or expedition and the guides and porters do a great job, then tip closer to $20 (depending on the size of the group: if the tour group is large, then each member of the group can leave less). Drivers typically receive lower amounts, normally around $5 per day.

For half-day or one-day tours, you can tip the guide $10 or less, depending on the nature of the tour. Guides leading outdoor activities typically receive more than museum guides, for example.

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Tony Dunnell, Contributor

Tony Dunnell is a freelance writer based in Peru since 2009. He’s the owner of New Peruvian and also writes for various magazines and websites. When he’s not walking his dog in the jungle town of Tarapoto, he’s off exploring other parts of Peru and South America.

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AAA Newsroom

Automotive, Travel, and Traffic Safety Information

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue – Oil Costs Tick Up and Gas Prices Too

By: andrew gross & devin gladden.

Andrew Gross 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2024)—Sticking to the slow lane since last week, the national average for a gallon of gas dipped slightly for a few days before rising a fraction of a cent higher to $3.15. However, seasonal demand trends, higher costs for oil, and routine refinery maintenance will likely push pump prices slowly higher soon.

“It feels like being in a car with a cold battery, cranking away yet slow to turn over,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But gas prices will likely start increasing around Valentine’s Day.”

For the complete report, including the latest EIA data and oil market dynamics, please visit  https://gasprices.aaa.com/roses-are-red-violets-are-blue-oil-costs-tick-up-and-gas-prices-too/

Chinese migrants are flocking to the southern border, and some have Chinese TikTok guides on how to enter the US: CBS

  • Chinese migrants hoping to get into the US are turning to an unlikely guide — the Chinese version of Tiktok.
  • Migrants told 60 Minutes they planned their journey using Douyin.
  • There has been a surge in the number of Chinese migrants crossing the US border in recent years.

Insider Today

Some Chinese migrants attempting to cross the US southern border are getting a little help from Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, according to a report from CBS' "60 Minutes ."

Over four days, CBS journalists observed nearly 600 migrants, some of whom were Chinese, crossing the border through a gap at the end of a border fence near San Diego.

Chinese migrants who spoke to 60 Minutes said they learned about the gap via the video application Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

60 Minutes said it had reviewed several Douyin posts, which gave detailed instructions on how migrants could hire smugglers to get to the border.

And the journey is no walk in the park either.

Chinese migrants hoping to start a new life in the US have to trek through multiple countries before they arrive stateside. Some have had to crisscross through Turkey, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and then Mexico, per CNN .

There has been a surge in the number of Chinese migrants entering the US through its borders.

According to data from the US Customs and Border Protection, the number of encounters the agency has had with Chinese nationals at the Southwest land border has increased more than 50-fold, from 450 people in 2021 to 24,314 in 2023.

Chinese social media platforms have been a boon for migrants hoping to enter the US.

In April, Reuters interviewed more than two dozen Chinese migrants entering the US via southeastern Texas. All the migrants that Reuters spoke to said that social media had helped them to plan their journey.

It's not just China. Content creators from Venezuela and India have been producing similar videos as well.

"Migration sells. My public is a public that wants a dream," Venezuelan Manuel Monterrosa, 35, told The New York Times in a story published in December.

A representative for the Department of Homeland Security told BI that the department was "experiencing historical global migration."

"DHS is working with our partners throughout the hemisphere and around the world to disrupt the criminal networks who take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants," the representative said.

February 7, 12:00 a.m. — This story has been updated with comments from the Department of Homeland Security.

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Watch: I spent a day with Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border

tipping tour guides america

  • Main content

CNN values your feedback

Prince harry returns to uk to be at king charles’ side, in rare moment of unity amid family rift.

Lauren Said-Moorhouse

Prince Harry has flown back to the United Kingdom to see his father, according to media reports, after the shock announcement on Monday from Buckingham Palace that King Charles III has cancer .

Harry, who arrived in London Tuesday afternoon from California, has been involved in a long-running,  public falling out  with his family in the years since he and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, stepped back from royal duties, though the duke did make a  brief visit to the UK  for Charles’ coronation last year.

The Duke of Sussex was photographed being driven into the gates of Clarence House, the King’s London residence, at around 2.45 p.m. (9.45 a.m. ET). Harry was seen in the photograph seated in the back of a black SUV. Harry took an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles to London overnight landing at about 12.30 p.m., British media reported.

The reunion didn’t appear to last long - around 45 minutes - with King Charles and Queen Camilla departing London for his country estate in Sandringham by helicopter shortly afterwards.

Harry appeared to be heading home to the United States a day later, according to multiple British media outlets. The 39-year-old royal was reportedly seen arriving at Heathrow Airport in London on Wednesday but the departure flight and time was unclear.

The brief father-son meeting has sparked speculation of reconciliation between Harry and his family, after years of estrangement. However, a royal source said there were no plans for Harry to meet his brother Prince William while he’s in London.

It was revealed on Monday evening that Charles, 75, was recently diagnosed while being treated separately for an enlarged prostate. A royal source told CNN that the form of cancer detected was not prostate cancer, but did not specify further.

Britain's King Charles III waits on the church steps after attending the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham Estate in eastern England, on December 25, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

While Charles’ troubling health update stunned the nation, the British monarch called Harry before the palace issued its announcement . William and the King’s siblings – Princess Anne and Princes Edward and Andrew – similarly were informed personally.

It appeared that Meghan and the couple’s two children — Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet — did not make the last-minute journey with Harry. The Sussexes emigrated to the United States after stepping away from royal duties in 2020.

The King’s younger son visited the UK on several occasions last year — most recently jetting over in September for a brief visit to attend the WellChild Awards, a charity he has been patron of for more than a decade.

The fifth-in-line to the throne did not see his immediate family before flying out to Germany for the start of his Invictus Games in Dusseldorf. He also traveled to London as his legal proceedings against UK publishers continued.

It was also not immediately clear where Harry will stay while in Britain. The Sussexes last year vacated their official residence at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, which is around an hour’s drive from London. When he visited last year, he reportedly stayed in a hotel in the capital.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Tuesday he was thankful the King’s condition was “caught early” in what appeared to be off-the-cuff remarks during a radio interview with the BBC.

Harry’s ties with his family has been strained since he and Meghan stepped back in 2020 shortly after they relocated to California. The couple sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an incendiary interview that ignited a royal racism controversy . The relationship was further put under pressure by the release of the couple’s six-part Netflix series and Harry’s memoir.

The bad blood between William and Harry was compounded after “Spare” was published. In the autobiography, Harry claimed his elder brother had  physically attacked him .

While the royal family are an institution, they are also a family. And many will be hoping that Harry’s return will bring a rapprochement with his the rest of the Windsors. For now, he appears willing to put other things aside.

The last time the pair reunited was when King Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey in May. It was another brief visit with the duke staying long enough for the ceremony but leaving immediately after.

CNN understood at the time that that Prince Harry did not receive an invitation to join the family on the Buckingham Palace balcony following the historic service. Meghan did not join her husband in London, instead remaining in California to mark Prince Archie’s fourth birthday.

Prince Harry last saw his father when he attended the coronation at Westminster Abbey last May.

CNN royal historian Kate Williams says it’s “significant” Harry has flown back. “We haven’t seen him since the coronation, he is rushing over a reason. This is a family - it is a business and family. It is a moment of reconciliation,” she explained.

There have been signals of an improvement in relations between father and son, which at one point were so low that Harry once said Charles stopped taking his calls . But there has been little to suggest that the tensions between the brothers have softened.

Prince William is returning to public duties this week after taking time off to support his wife, Catherine, in her own recovery from abdominal surgery, Kensington Palace announced on Monday.

GET OUR FREE ROYAL NEWSLETTER

•  Sign up to CNN’s Royal News , a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls.

But as the direct heir to the British throne, he’ll likely be needed to help cover official duties and engagements, as Charles handles the daily red boxes and keeps across state business during his treatment.

The cancer diagnosis only 17 months into Charles’ reign has also become a moment of unity for the royal family.

While the number of working royals these days has dropped more than anticipated in recent years, and just two are under the age of 50, they will be keen to support the King during his treatment.

Queen Camilla had been front and center in his absence, carrying out a full program of engagements - which is set to continue. Meanwhile, other working members of the family are continuing their public engagements and CNN understands they could also pick up some additional duties on Charles’ behalf if needed.

CNN’s Jessie Gretener contributed reporting.

  • Entertainment

Grammy winner SZA announces April Australian tour

Pre-release tickets go on sale in just over 24 hours time for the anticipated international tour of the US star.

SZA is allowing her new album, 'Lana', to shape itself

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Nine star’s humiliation over online scam

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Backflip ahead of Taylor Swift concerts

SZA has announced her 2024 Australian and New Zealand tour dates and when they will go on pre-sale.

The R & B starlet will hit three Australian cities on her SOS tour run this April, with tickets on sale in just over 24 hours time.

Brisbane and Melbourne fans will each get one night of the highly-anticipated tour, while Sydney fans are spoiled for choice with three nights.

SZA to tour Australia in April. Picture: Supplied

SZA will kick off the tour with two night at Auckland’s Spark Arena on April 15 and 16 in New Zealand, before touching down in Brisbane on April 19.

Live Nation will host the pre-sale ticket even from 2pm on Friday, February 9 (local time) in both Australia and New Zealand.

It will run until February 12 when general public tickets hit the market.

Picture: Valerie Macon / AFP

SZA recently thrilled fans with a performance of her number-one hit Kill Bill at the Grammy’s on Sunday.

She took home a whopping three awards at the ceremony of a total nine award nominations with victories in best R&B song (“Snooze”), best progressive R&B album (SOS), and best pop duo/group performance (“Ghost in the Machine” with Phoebe Bridgers).

The song – which was originally released as a single in 2022 – scored spot number 13 on triple J’s hottest 100 countdown in January.

THE S.O.S. AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES:

Monday April 15 – Auckland, New Zealand – Spark Arena

Monday April 16 – Auckland, New Zealand – Spark Arena

Friday April 19 – Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Tuesday April 23 – Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena

Tuesday April 24 – Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena

Monday April 29 – Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena

Tuesday April 30 – Sydney, Australia – Rod Bank Arena

Taylor Swift is just days away from performing across three nights at the MCG. Here’s all your questions answered and a key warning.

Journalist and presenter Deb Knight has revealed how she became caught up in a ticket scam for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

Swifties were forced to come up with creative ways to get their friendship bracelets into the venues after the restrictions were announced.

IMAGES

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  2. Tipping in USA: Guide on How Much to Tip in USA and When!

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  3. What Is The Standard For Tipping Tour Guides? An Expert Guide To Help

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  4. Tipping in the USA: When to Tip and How Much?

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  5. Tipping Tour Guides: How To Show Your Appreciation

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  6. Best Practices for Tipping in America

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COMMENTS

  1. Should You Tip US Tour Guides? (Simple Formula)

    I would generally recommend to tip your tour guides between 5% to 15% depending on the range of relevant factors that I discuss below. What is the actual cost of your tour? Sometimes, you might be turned off by the suggested tip amount when you look at the percentage of your total tour cost.

  2. Tipping for Travelers: Who, When, and How Much

    Onshore excursions, you should tip your guides based on the level of personalization from $2 to $10. For children's club counselors, tipping is not necessary.

  3. Gratuity Guide: How Much Should You Tip on a Guided Tour

    To give you a ballpark estimate, though, the daily per person tip for a tour leader tip should be somewhere in the range of $7 to $12, with $10 per person per day being the most widely recommended amount. That amount can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one tour leader and/or are traveling with a family group.

  4. How Much Should I Tip My Guide? We Asked Guides How Much to Give

    How Much Should I Tip My Guide? We Asked Guides How Much to Give. Tipping is part of life, but it often feels confusing and stressful. Whether you're on a river trip, a safari, or taking a...

  5. U.S. tipping guide: Expert advice on when, where, how much

    U.S. tipping guide: Expert advice on when, where, how much - and why By Jordan Rane, for CNN 7 minute read Updated 6:24 AM EST, Fri March 6, 2015 Link Copied! Envelope etiquette — Marriott...

  6. Tipping on Local Tours: Etiquette and Guidelines Demystified

    OK 10%? 20%? How much should I tip my tour guide? Let's explore the etiquette and guidelines for tipping on local tours, helping travelers navigate this aspect of cultural interactions with confidence!

  7. How much should I tip when I travel?

    Tipping tour guides Let's start with how much to tip tour guides. Not unlike when you dine at a restaurant, there's a general consensus to tip tour guides based on the level of service you receive. For tour guides, we recommend tipping 10% to 20% of the overall tour's cost.

  8. Tipping in the United States Etiquette: Who & Where to Tip

    Tipping in the United States Visiting the United States for business or leisure? Read our guide about who to tip in the United States, when to tip - and how much to hand over. Then avoid any tipping missteps with our handy tip calculator.

  9. How Much Should I Tip A Tour Guide

    When deciding how much to tip your tour guide, there are several factors to take into account: The quality of service: Consider how knowledgeable, engaging, and accommodating your tour guide was throughout the experience. Did they provide interesting and relevant information? Did they handle any issues or challenges with professionalism and grace?

  10. Complete Guide to Tipping in America 2024

    This is the ultimate guide to tipping across the U.S. with some specifics about New York City. It applies everywhere and it's important, be a good tipper! While you may think that tipping in America is ridiculous, that doesn't mean that you can ignore it, and it doesn't mean you can just choose not to tip.

  11. What Do You Tip A Tour Guide

    Latin America: Tipping practices in Latin America can vary, but a tip of 10-15% of the total tour cost is commonly recommended. In some countries, such as Argentina or Brazil, it is common to add a cash tip in addition to the service charge included in the bill. ... Tipping tour guides around 2-5 euros per person per day is considered polite ...

  12. The Adventure Travel Guide to Tipping Around the World

    How Much Should I Tip My Tour Guide in North America. North America has a tipping culture - there is an expectation for tips for good service. However, your guides won't expect to receive tips of the same level as in a restaurant (where a 20% gratuity is the norm). Our Canadian host recommends tipping around $10/£8 per person per day.

  13. The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in America

    October 06, 2023 By Alex Greig Share this article In America, tipping is optional in name only. Legally it's voluntary but if you slink out of a restaurant without leaving a gratuity of between 20 and 25 per cent, you're likely to be chased by a waiter demanding to know why.

  14. What are the rules for tipping in America? A US traveller's survival guide

    Uber invites you to tip a broad range of amounts: on a $10 ride, for example, you could be offered options of $1, $3 or $5 - a range of percentages of 10, 30 or 50. In this situation I select...

  15. International tipping: How to cut through the chaos and confusion

    The group also tipped the tour guides from the first week, anywhere from $10 to $25 each depending on length of tour. ... Tipping in North America A taxi is seen at the National Palace in Mexico ...

  16. A Traveler's Guide to Tipping in a Changed World

    Make 15 to 20 percent your restaurant baseline Tipping standards at restaurants vary widely around the world. In the United States, the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests in its...

  17. The Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers

    Who to Tip How Much to Tip When to Tip; Tour Guide: 10%-20% total cost of tour. At the end of the tour. Tour Bus Driver: $5-$10 per person: At the end of the tour. Cruises.

  18. The ultimate guide to tipping around the world

    Tour guides Tour guides and drivers in almost all countries in Europe are tipped separately. In Central and Eastern European countries and Italy, tip both about 10 to 20% per day of the tour depending on how much you enjoyed it.

  19. Tipping in the USA: A Guide to Doing It Right

    The tipping economy extends beyond cabs, restaurants and hotels. In casinos - win or lose - tip your dealer US $5 per hour at minimum, or 10% of your buy-in. Use chips only, never cash. Tip your cocktail waitress US $1 each for free drinks (with either chips or cash). For spa services, tip 15-20%. Tip your hairdresser or manicurist 20%.

  20. Tipping in Colombia: Your complete guide (2023)

    The tipping etiquette in Colombia is to tip is at a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, or anywhere you have been waited on. Unless the service was exceptionally bad, you should leave 10 percent. In other cases, such as tour guides, drivers, or hotel staff, you might hear someone casually suggest or ask for a tip by saying " la propina es ...

  21. Should You Tip Your Tour Leader?

    Definitely not. Tipping the leader has never been compulsory on Intrepid trips. And you shouldn't let any travellers shame you into tipping, if you strongly believe against it. All we ask is that you research the effects of tipping before making up your mind. And if you still don't want to tip, find some other way to show your gratitude.

  22. How Much To Tip A Tour Guide In Costa Rica

    In Costa Rica, tipping tour guides is both appreciated and expected, as it is a significant source of income for them.

  23. A Guide To Tipping In South America

    1. Restaurants and Bars 2. Hotels 3. Taxi Drivers 4. Tour Guides Restaurants and Bars As a general rule, tipping 10% works in most restaurants in South America, especially in more upscale establishments.

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  25. Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue

    Automotive, Travel, and Traffic Safety Information. AAA provides more than 64 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 27 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe ...

  26. Chinese Migrants Using Chinese TikTok Guides to Cross US Border: CBS

    Chinese migrants are flocking to the southern border, and some have Chinese TikTok guides on how to enter the US: CBS. According to data from the US Customs and Border Protection, the number of ...

  27. Prince Harry returns to UK to be at King Charles' side, in rare ...

    Prince Harry has flown back to the United Kingdom to see his father, according to media reports, after the shock announcement on Monday from Buckingham Palace that King Charles III has cancer.

  28. SZA Australian Tour: Pre-sale tickets release, SOS tour, Melbourne

    SZA has announced her 2024 Australian and New Zealand tour dates and when they will go on pre-sale. The R & B starlet will hit three Australian cities on her SOS tour run this April, with tickets ...