Are we tight-fisted with tips on holiday?

Are we tight-fisted with tips on holiday?

1 in 3 tips 5% or less


The etiquette of tipping on holiday remains a mystery and often a source of downright embarrassment to many, according to a survey of tipping habits amongst 2000 travellers commissioned by travel money provider ICE – International Currency Exchange*.  Surprisingly, over 1 in 3 (37%) admitted to tipping just 5% or under, whether through ignorance or frugality.

Further to this, 39% admitted they find tipping awkward and squirm at the idea of when and how to tip, while almost 1 in 3 confessed they have no idea how much to tip and, incredibly, 14% NEVER tip. 25-34 year olds are the biggest tippers, while over 60s tend to tip much more conservatively, perhaps indicative of our propensity to become more thrifty as we get older. Amongst those that do tip, the average amount spent during the whole holiday was £75, but interestingly amongst the over 60s this dropped to just £33.

When budgeting for holidays, 43% admit to not factoring in portion of their holiday money for tips , and, if they do tip, almost half say they aim in the region of 10% – a big mistake for those heading stateside, where in most establishments a 20% tip is expected.  We seem to get away with it, however, with just 1 in 10 of those surveyed having been confronted by for not tipping enough or at all.

Porters, room service and restaurant service get the most tips from UK holidaymakers while bar staff, taxi drivers and beauticians are regarded as least deserving of tips – so bartenders shouldn’t bother throwing bottles in the air a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail – it won’t necessarily make UK holidaymakers part with their cash.

Key Findings


  • 43% don’t budget for tipping when planning spending money
  • 15% of men don’t tip on holiday
  • 22% tip less than £25 on average
  • On average, men tip more than women
  • 39% find tipping awkward/embarrassing
  • Average spend on tipping is £75 – over 60s spend on average on £33
  • 30% don’t have a clue how much to tip
  • The age group that believes in tipping most is 25-34
  • 30% would be mortified if the people they were with didn’t tip – 34% for women – 25% for men
  • 24% would secretly tip for friends/family not tipping out of embarrassment
  • 30% don’t know how much to tip
  • 45% tip around 10% – only 1% tip circa 20%
  • Bar service is the least likely to be tipped
  • 9% have been confronted by a person they should be paying a tip to

Tom Johnson, Head of ICE Online Business, said:

“Tipping etiquette seems to take many of us outside our comfort zone and while most respondents tend to use a 10% rule of thumb it was surprising to see that so many tip 5% or less.  This is well below what’s expected in in some parts of the USA and Canada where tips can be in the region of 20%. That’s £200 out of a budget of £1,000, making it a serious expense. Rather than having to stretch your holiday budget, it makes sense to factor in tips when working out costs, particularly if you are travelling to North America. Ensure you have enough small change to tip when you first arrive by requesting some low value denominations when you order your travel money and shop around for competitive rates online rather than leave it to the last minute.  A bit of planning can help make the holiday spending budget that bit further.”

*Survey conducted on behalf of ICE by Populus, October 2013. 2,000 participants who had been on a foreign holiday within the last 3 years.


© ICE plc 2013   |  PRESS RELEASE  |