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Know when not to tip
Be sure to research your destination: In some counties (like Japan, China, South Korea and French Polynesia), staff may be offended when offered a tip because excellent service is an expected part of their culture. “If you do offer—say to staff at a Japanese ryoken, taxi driver or tour guide—be sure to place the bills in a card or envelope and use two hands and a bow or nod (depending on the culture) to present it,” says Glenn. Always ask, “May I present you a tip in appreciation for your service?” while looking down, rather than just handing it to them. Be discreet, humble and do not press if they refuse. Even when in Canada, it’s sometimes confusing as when to tip and when not to tip. “Tipping in French Polynesia is almost considered to be rude and making the people feel lower than you,” says Dan Boland, an international airline pilot. Even tipping for great service is frowned upon. If in doubt, just don’t do it.
Read on to find out how these travel blunders can actually be the highlight of your next trip.
Only tip for services rendered
In India, for example, make sure that you have actually received the kind of help that would require a tip. “Some beggars ask for tips, so giving them money in this instance sends the wrong message,” says Glenn. Since this is an extremely poor country, try buying their goods or hiring them to do a small task if you feel compelled to give them money.
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Check your bill before tipping
Many restaurants, hotels, and other establishments in the U.K. (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales), Chile, Brazil, Portugal, and many other countries already add a service charge. “An exception is Dubai—where the added service fee usually goes to the owners, rather than your server. Be sure to personally hand the server an additional tip in this case,” says Glenn. And check whether the bill specifies a service “charge,” as opposed to service “tax,” before thinking you’ve been charged the tip. A “tax” does not go to the servers. One note on Brazil: “Tipping is really not required even though they would like it due to small wages,” says Boland. Of course in tourist spots, the workers have become accustomed to Canadians giving small amounts.
These are the strange travel faux pas any globetrotter would do best to avoid.