Solving the Mysteries of Tipping

To tip or not to tip – or what to tip! Questions regarding tipping etiquette are some of the most common concerns travelers have when visiting a foreign country. To make matters even more confusing, there is no universal language for tipping; in fact, in some countries a tip is considered an insult or an act of arrogance. Unfortunately, there is not a straight-forward, yes or no, answer to the "tipping question." Instead, tipping is a highly personal subject – some people tip very generously and others choose not to tip at all. We strongly believe that in no case should it forced upon our clients. That said, tipping for services in South and Central America is very common and very much appreciated. If you are pleased with a service, here are some suggestions.


  • Restaurants -- 10% of the bill

  • Hotel/airport portage -- US$1 per suitcase, per person

  • Local guides -- US$5-8 per day, per person

  • Cooks and Porters -- US$2-3 per day, per person

  • Driver for tours -- US$3 per day, per person

  • Guides in Galapagos -- US$5-10 per day, per person

  • Cruise crew -- US$10 per day per person for entire crew

  • Guides, crew & staff, Antarctica -- US$10-20 per day, per person

Rest assured – if you have reservations or are confused about tipping you are not alone. Whatever you feel comfortable with is usually the best rule of thumb. But we recommend that each traveler comes prepared with at least 20 to 30 US$1 bills for tipping. As in any situation you might find at home, if you feel someone has provided exceptional service, any small gift of extra tip is graciously accepted. But bottom line, remember that tipping is at your discretion.