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Travel Tips: Restaurant Tipping Etiquette Around Europe

Travelers Today       By    Nicole Ynayan

Updated: Nov 23, 2016 04:50 AM EST

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Travelling to a different continent generally comes with its own fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to figuring out how things are supposed to work. When travelling to Europe, other than the confusion over the left-hand driving, proper etiquette is what confuses travelers more.

While it's not expected that travelers will immediately know what to say or how to react to some things, one specific form of etiquette is otherwise unavoidable: the etiquette of tipping. Tips can be confusing in terms of amount or percentage, adequacy, and cultural implication. Believe it or not, leaving a tip may be a bad thing in some countries.

So how is tipping different in Europe? The answer is not quite so simple, especially since there are so many countries that make up the huge continent. Specific countries may follow different guidelines, but one common trait of tipping in Europe is to always tip in cash.

The reason for tipping in cash is simple: security. Should you add the charge to your credit card, the tip may not necessarily reach the intended recipient. Furthermore, while dollars may be accepted in some countries, The Guardian highly recommends that you tip using the local currency, for convenience purposes.

Tipping may be simpler in some countries as a service charge may be automatically indicated at the bottom of your bill. Service charges may run from anywhere between five to fifteen percent, depending on the country and the stature of the establishment.

On the other hand, some countries indicate labels that state that no tip is needed. For example, in France, the words service compris indicate that there is no required tip. However, as stated by CN Traveler, leaving an extra amount to show appreciation is still acceptable.

In other countries where service charges are not directly indicated, locals have a good idea of what a reasonable tip may be. To make sure that you leave an adequate amount, it's best to do prior research or consult a local regarding the local tipping norm.

In some of these countries, tipping etiquette is not necessarily based on percentage. Countries such as Croatia usually just recommend leaving the change after paying for a drink, coffee or a cab ride. Furthermore, countries like Scandinavia do not have any formalized tip etiquette, so tips are generally not expected.

Countries like Russia recommend giving your tip directly to the person who offered the service, rather than leaving it on the table. This is done to guarantee that your tip reaches your waiter or serviceman, rather than to members of the management or other people that encounter it.

All-in-all, tipping etiquette in Europe is relatively confusing, especially if you plan on travelling from country to country. It may be best to prepare a tipping etiquette guide, or to always consult a local before leaving a mindless tip. It is also conclusively better to always carry small bills in cash and convert your money to the local currency. 

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