6 People You're Supposed to Tip While Traveling Abroad


Expert travelers know to check up on local tipping customs before they head abroad. It’s good to know, for instance, that waiters in Germany appreciate a 5 to 10 percent tip delivered by hand, while luggage porters in Israel should get 6 shekels (around $1.55 USD) per bag. If you’re in Hong Kong, make sure to round up to the nearest dollar on your cab ride. And if you’re dining out in Japan, don’t tip under any circumstances—unless offending a Japanese waiter is part of your itinerary.

But what about services that take place outside the typical tourist confines of hotels, restaurants, and taxis? You don’t want to stiff a helpful attendant, after all, or offend a local tour guide. Here are a few tipping occasions from around the world.


Looking for a parking space in Capetown or Johannesburg? You’ll probably have to negotiate with one of the city’s car guards. These mostly unofficial workers help motorists find spaces along packed streets, and promise to watch over the vehicle in exchange for a tip, typically in the range of 2 to 5 Rand (around $0.14 to $0.34 USD). Due to the country’s high unemployment and crime rate, car guards can be a hit-or-miss enterprise. Locals claim they’re an annoyance, while travelers relate stories of their cars being vandalized by guards. Though officials say they’re trying to better regulate the industry, it’s best to use your discretion. If you happen to park on Harrington Street in Capetown, you’ve got nothing to worry about: Nunchuk-wielding car guard Master Lolo’s got you covered.


No traveler plans on getting sick abroad, but if you’re headed to Hungary you might want to have an envelope of cash on hand just in case. Locals, expats, and visitors alike say doctors often expect a tip in exchange for their services. A visit to a general practitioner might warrant 3000 HUF (around $10.50 USD) while a specialist may be expecting 15,000 to 20,000 HUF (around $52 to $69 USD). The practice started during Hungary’s Communist era, when healthcare workers were criminally underpaid, and still persists today. Some travel guides say the practice is going by the wayside, while others claim it’s still widespread. A 2013 study showed patients pay a total of $162 million USD annually to practitioners.


Drew Leavy, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Temples throughout Sri Lanka are open to visitors curious about the country’s architecture and religious customs. To get in, though, you’ll need to follow proper decorum and remove your shoes. There’s usually an attendant who keeps watch, and according to Allison Sodha of Sodha Travel, it’s customary to tip these individuals between 10 and 20 Sri Lankan Rupees (around $0.15 to $0.30 USD) before leaving. And if you’re lucky enough to have a monk show you around the grounds, it’s customary (not to mention good karma) to leave 100 Rupees (around $1.50 USD) in the temple’s donation box.


Hikers who want to journey up to Machu Picchu on this famous (and difficult) trail are required to book in advance through a licensed trekking company. The arrangements include porters to haul all your gear, a licensed guide, and, depending on the size of the group, a cook and an assistant guide, as well. You’ll no doubt be grateful for the assistance, so why not show it? Trekking companies recommend tipping porters an extra 50 to 60 soles (around $15 to $18 USD) for the trip, and anywhere from 50 to 100 soles (around $15 to $30 USD) for the guide and cook.


All Pemex gas stations in Mexico are staffed by attendants who will fill up your tank, wipe down your windshield, and maybe even check your oil and tire pressure. Due to low wages — typically less than $5 a day — these workers rely on tips, so 5 to 10 pesos (around $0.29 to $0.60 USD) is customary and appreciated, with a few more pesos warranted if the attendant goes above the call of duty. Since state-owned Pemex is the country’s only fueling company, there’s no need to search out the lowest price while you’re on the road. But beware of scams at the pump, including overcharging and falsely claiming a credit card is declined.


Travel doesn’t get much grander than having your own private yacht. A good crew will chart a scenic course and ply you with plenty of food and booze. And in return, they deserve a generous tip, typically in the range of 5 to 15 percent of the total trip, according to the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association. Tipping each crewmember separately is one option, though experts warn that it’s easy to overlook less-visible workers. The best bet is to put the money in an envelope and give it to the captain at the end of the trip.

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.

Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic

Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

What Happens When You Flush an Airplane Toilet?

For millions of people, summer means an opportunity to hop on a plane and experience new and exciting sights, cultures, and food. It also means getting packed into a giant commercial aircraft and then wondering if you can make it to your next layover without submitting to the anxiety of using the onboard bathroom.

Roughly the size of an apartment pantry, these narrow facilities barely accommodate your outstretched knees; turbulence can make expelling waste a harrowing nightmare. Once you’ve successfully managed to complete the task and flush, what happens next?

Unlike our home toilets, planes can’t rely on water tanks to create passive suction to draw waste from the bowl. In addition to the expense of hauling hundreds of gallons of water, it’s impractical to leave standing water in an environment that shakes its contents like a snow globe. Originally, planes used an electronic pump system that moved waste along with a deodorizing liquid called Anotec. That method worked, but carrying the Anotec was undesirable for the same reasons as storing water: It raised fuel costs and added weight to the aircraft that could have been allocated for passengers. (Not surprisingly, airlines prefer to transport paying customers over blobs of poop.)

Beginning in the 1980s, planes used a pneumatic vacuum to suck liquids and solids down and away from the fixture. Once you hit the flush button, a valve at the bottom of the toilet opens, allowing the vacuum to siphon the contents out. (A nonstick coating similar to Teflon reduces the odds of any residue.) It travels to a storage tank near the back of the plane at high speeds, ready for ground crews to drain it once the airplane lands. The tank is then flushed out using a disinfectant.

If you’re also curious about timing your bathroom visit to avoid people waiting in line while you void, flight attendants say the best time to go is right after the captain turns off the seat belt sign and before drink service begins.

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