How To Tip When You Travel

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We have the pleasure of chatting with hundreds of travellers each week at our wickets — and after spending the last 10 years hearing about all of their international adventures, the single best piece of advice that we can share is to ensure that you tip well while abroad.

Tipping is a common way to thank service providers, but when it’s done right, it can also be a way to ensure that your experience is memorable before the service is even delivered.

Cash is king

When tipping abroad, ensure that you have cash on hand. Some countries don’t have the ability to process tips on your credit card. Others may have the ability to process a tip, but the tip is then either shared amongst many or kept by management entirely. Since tipping often begins at the very beginning of a trip, plan ahead and equip yourself with a variety of small denominations suitable for tipping. Also ensure that your tip budget is converted to the local or preferred currency. Lastly, never tip in Canadian or American coin. Coin is non-negotiable when abroad.  Leaving a toonie is as effective as leaving a handful of buttons on the table. 

When in doubt, generosity wins

Canada’s generally accepted tipping rate is 10 to 20%. Many countries typically add a tip to the bill total, like France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. There are others that expect no more than perhaps rounding the bill up to the nearest full banknote, like in Thailand and Australia. Other countries still expect no tipping at all, like Japan and China. Take a close look at your bill to see whether or not a tip was added, and when in doubt, it never hurts to be generous.


Tipping etiquette on cruises vary greatly from line to line. Luxury cruise lines often automatically assign tips to your bill. Others will allow you to process tips on your end-of-trip bill, and others still use cash tipping. Understand your cruise line’s tipping process before your trip to ensure that you’re well prepared. 

Start With a Tip

Many vacations (all-inclusive resorts, cruises, and tours) have staff that are assigned to specific travelers for the entirety of their vacation. It is worth your while to start your trip with a generous tip for these people, and to end with another smaller token tip.


Believe it or not, pantyhose is a very sought after tip in Cuba! Cuba, and other destinations that have limited access to international products, place more value on rare items than cash itself.  Toiletries, stationary, backpacks, Tylenol and clothing are coveted items that you may want to pack and leave behind as tips.

As our own local economy evolves into an app, we can easily lose focus on tippable service. Tips are generally offered at bars, restaurants, in taxis, tour buses, as well as to hotel room staff, baggage handlers at airports and hotels, and spa-like service providers. It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and tipping is no exception – if great service will add value to your travels, ensure that you plan to tip your service providers well.

For all of your travel currency needs, visit Currency Converters in Waterloo.

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