Tipping is so well established in the United Sates that many US travelers simply follow the customs as they would at home. While this certainly makes restaurant staff happy, it does not always set a good precedent. It is best to know the local practices and to follow them. The first rule to know is that any tip should be left in cash, and never added to the credit card bill. In general, European wait staff is paid a living wage, unlike their US counterparts, whose salary is based on the expectation of tips.
Tipping in Spain
The Spanish rarely do, except in mid-to-high-end restaurants and if there is a large group or one that makes special demands on the staff. That said, American tourists have tipped there for so long that wait staff has come to expect it of them, even though their own fellow countrymen do not. The best rule is that in all but small family-run restaurants, leave a few Euros on the table – maybe 5% to 7% of the bill.
Tipping in Italy
A service charge is normally added to the bill in Italy, so the amount you see on your conto includes it. Look for the words servizio incluso on the bill or menu, but even if they are not there, be assured that the wait staff is paid a minimum wage, has full health insurance and does not depend on tips for a living as they do in the US. The best rule is to leave a few Euros on the table if the service was good, maybe only a Euro or two in small family-run trattorias. Ten percent is considered a very generous tip for especially attentive service.
Do Tip in Portugal
Waiters in Portugal are not very well paid, and since dining prices there are usually so reasonable, be mindful of that and leave a tip. Ten percent of the bill will be really appreciated, more in a really nice restaurant. In general, tipping is expected more in the Algarve and in the cities of Lisbon and Porto than it is in the more rural north.
Gratuities in Greece
The “rules” here are not so clear. A service charge is normally added to the bill, although it may be hard to decipher unless you are fluent in Greek. If in doubt, ask. But in addition to that, it is customary to add a few Euros for the waiter, especially in tourist locations. In some places, the service charge may be about all the salary a waiter gets, so the very fact that a patron can afford to travel at all makes them rich by local standards. In all cases, leave some small change on the table for the busboys, who are paid next to nothing.
Tips in a Bar
In a bar or café anywhere, simply round up the bill to the nearest Euro.
Keep in mind that if you need to ask a lot of questions or if a waiter spends a lot of time with you translating or explaining the menu, a tip is certainly in order. But in any country, remember that a tip is just that, a “thank you” for good service. If the service is not good – especially if it is surly instead of just good-natured bumbling – do not feel obligated to leave a tip. Just because a generation or two of tourists has made waiters in tourist areas expect Americans to leave tips doesn’t mean a savvy traveler should perpetuate that expectation if the locals don’t.
Tips For Traveling In England
England is a place so full of beauty and history that its visitors are almost guaranteed a wonderful stay. Still, it is always wise for travelers to thoroughly research foreign destinations. Here is some basic information that may interest those who are making their first trip to England.
England vs. Great Britain and the United Kingdom
When traveling in England, it is always a good idea to learn about its relation to Great Britain and the
United Kingdom. One should avoid confusing England with Scotland and Wales. It helps to remember that Great Britain refers to England, Scotland, and Wales, but does not include Ireland. And also that the United Kingdom refers to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Using Money In England
Much as the American dollar consists of 100 pennies, the English pound is comprised of 100 pence. A pence is also referred to as a penny. The coins used in England include: 1 penny, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, 1 pound, and 2 pounds.
A pound is sometimes called a quid, just as the dollar is referred to as a buck. A five pound note might be called a fiver and a ten pound note a tenner.
Visa and MasterCard are the mostly widely accepted credit cards in England and throughout much of Europe. As a substitute, travelers might consider using a debit card, or even a traveler’s debit card, which have the added bonus of protecting one’s personal information and checking account from theft.
Restaurant tips in England are similar to those in America—an average of 10 to 15%. But some places may have a ‘service charge’ on the bill which covers the tip.
English Food Names
When glancing over a menu at an English restaurant, it helps to remember some of these English names for certain foods and meals:
- Bangers and Mash: sausage and mashed potatoes
- Bubble and Squeak: potatoes, cabbage, and sometimes beef
- Jacket potatoes: baked potatoes
- Prawns: shrimp
- Biscuits: cookies
- Chips: French fries
- Crisps: potato chips
- Tomato sauce: ketchup
Final Tips For Visiting England
When visiting England, one may wish to pack a travel umbrella in case of occasional rain showers. It is also a good idea to look into an adaptor for one’s appliances, given that England’s electricity has a different voltage and frequency than America’s.