Originating in England as a sign of appreciation and a mark of promptitude, many countries have since adopted the practice of tipping for services. In the Caribbean and Mexico, tipping etiquette is widely accepted, and often expected. During your vacation, if someone goes above and beyond to meet your needs, out of courtesy and gratitude, a tip is expected, although discretionary. We recommend using the golden rule: if someone takes care of you, take care of them.
We’ve put together a quick guide to tipping etiquette for your next vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico.
When to Tip
Tipping prior to service appears as a subtle bribe while tipping after service is considered a reward. If you need to guarantee a service or result, leave a generous tip upfront. If you find yourself using a service regularly, wait until the end of your stay and then provide a tip to show your appreciation. It’s not always easy to make change in foreign countries so it’s important to bring enough small bills with you on vacation.
Tipping for Transportation Services
The need for transportation is almost inevitable while on vacation. Using a service such as Uber makes it easy to tip right through the app. But if you call a cab, ask if the cab fare includes gratuity. If not, a standard tip is around 10% to 15% for this service. If you ever use a hotel’s shuttle service, a few singles are always appreciated and maybe even a dollar or two for each bag.
Tipping at Resorts & Hotels
When booking a room, ask if gratuity is included in the price, as is common at all-inclusive resorts. Expect to tip one or two dollars to the porter, per bag, if they assist you with your luggage. When determining a tip for the concierge and housekeeping, think about the value they add to your experience. Maybe they get you a table at a restaurant that’s fully booked or even tickets for a show that sold out. In these cases, the concierge is using their leverage for you, so tip them accordingly. With housekeeping, think about the mess you leave behind each day before you hit the beach. If your room is tidy, a few dollars is the norm; but if you leave a huge mess, show your appreciation with a suitable tip. It’s important to leave a tip every day with a note clearly stating the money is for housekeeping—you may have a different person each morning.
Tipping for Tours & Excursions
Services range anywhere from private fishing charters to guided safari tours. When taking any sort of charter boat, a 20% tip is standard for an outstanding experience. Leave the money with the captain and they will distribute the tip. After any guided tour, tip your guide 10% to 20% based on your individual cost.
Tipping at Restaurants & Bars
As Americans, 15% to 20% is a standard tip for dining and drinking. When traveling to the Caribbean and Mexico, bring this standard with you, just be sure to check with the waiter or bartender if gratuity is already included. You will find this inclusive gratuity more commonly in fine dining or while attending dinner at exclusive clubs and events. When it comes to tipping bartenders, stick with the 15% to 20% rule as well. Some people suggest $1 to $2 per drink, but as the drinks become more complex and costly, stick to the percentage scale.
The Bottom Line
Before you give away your hard-earned cash, clearly define who has really gone above and beyond throughout your stay. In most cases, concierge, hospitality and housekeeping offer the most abundant quality service, making your vacation picture perfect, but if that’s not the case, you may reserve judgment for how much you’ll tip or if you’ll tip at all. At the end of the day, these hard workers are often relying on tips, so pack a bathing suit and plenty of singles to show your appreciation and gratitude to those that make your vacation stress free and easy.