How much gratuity? With gratitude.

TRAVEL TIP:  On a travelers path, tipping for the local services and hospitality received along the way may be undeniable. But, how do you make the act of giving easier and more meaningful when the rules, in each country, can be so different? 1) Research local customs. 2) Make a point of getting small change at the airport. 3) If you're not a math wizard, use smart tools. 4) Give from your heart.

Dear Venturer,

With the new year started and moving fast, the theme of gratitude has been on my mind. It’s on my mind quite a bit actually because, as a new business, I am deeply appreciative of all the support I have received this past year for BonViage. Everyone’s encouragement has kept me growing and smiling.

When traveling, I think about gratitude quite a bit too. Especially as a guest in a foreign country where local people coordinate their lives to make our stay feel welcome. They give us hospitality – and we receive a lifetime of memories.

One question which consistently comes up from travelers is about tipping. From how much, to whom, or when is appropriate? It’s not an easy answer, since each country has their own unique customs and economies. In many developing countries, a months wage is considerably less than what American’s make in a week. In some European countries, 10-15% of the restaurant bill is recommended or it may be automatically added to the bill. In Japan, tipping can be considered an insult. Around the world, the American 20% rule just doesn’t apply. And, it is sometimes hard to know what to do.

An exact guideline for tipping in each country, is not what I am going to relay here. There are quite a few resources you can find for tipping online with Fodors, TheGuardian, TripAdvisor and many others. Or, if you are thinking of traveling with BonViage this year, check out these neat at-a-glance cheat sheets we found and pinned to ourPinterest page for our upcoming trips to Albania, Spain, Morocco and others.

So with that said, I want to leave you with a more personal and meaningful answer based on my own travel experiences. Four travel tips to making gratuities easier and your travel experiences richer:

1) Plan ahead and research local customs.

Saying thank you is part of the journey. It can also create more meaningful or memorable connections along the way. So before you go, know what the local customs are for tipping. Get curious. Do your research or use our cheat sheets found on our Pinterest page to get prepared. If you are still not sure, ask us, and we'll send you in the right direction.

2) Get organized with small change.

Upon arrival, make a point of going to the currency exchange at the airport, stop at a bank or simply buy a water or coffee to get small change for gratuities. Whether it is baggage porters, waiters, or your own personal guide, tipping is about expressing gratitude for the service you received. You will be thankful for being prepared when you want to give that extra personal thank you along the way.

3) Make it easy with the right tools.

Download a smart phone app like Turbo Bill by Adysseus. It's an all in one app for calculating tips, converting currencies and it even provides a general tipping guideline for each country. Or, XE Currency is my own go to currency converter. But, then you will need to do your own math.

4) Give from your heart.

Many times the rules found online need to thrown to the side. The best advice I received about tipping was in Morocco from a local business owner. I had just received a delightful hammam and massage from two local women, and I wasn’t sure what to tip. So, I asked what was customary. He said “We say in Morocco, to just tip from your heart.”

BonViage is about discovering new experiences in traveling around the world. In appreciation for our new and old travel friends, we are offering $150.00 off your next BonViage trip in 2016. To receive the discount code, click here to email us for a reply. Expires December 31, 2016. Offer does not apply to previously reserved trips. 

With gratitude,

Lesley Ames
Chief Venturer, BonViage

Travel Q&ALesley Ames