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    Tipping Abroad

    According to an article in the Mail Online, many British travellers are wasting their money on over-generous tips because they don't understand the etiquette in their chosen foreign holiday destination.

    A survey conducted by M&S Travel Money found that 40% of us make no effort to familiarise ourselves with the local tipping requirements, resulting in too much money being given in gratuities. The survey also found that 16% of Britons thought it was appropriate to tip in Japan - a country where the practice is actually seen as an insult.

    This lack of understanding is a costly one, as 30% of our holiday funds are going on tips. After spending hours on the internet searching for the cheapest travel deal, it makes sense to spend just a few minutes more researching the local customs to make sure you don't pay over the odds.

    Each of the Auto Europe country guides includes a section titled 'Tips for Travellers' containing information on tipping and business hours as well as lots of other practical advice to help make the most of your trip. Remember, if you're travelling to countries like Egypt, or the USA where regular tips are expected and often depended upon by staff, it's a good idea to make allowances for them in your budget.

    Here's a brief overview of how you should tip in three of the most popular holiday destinations:

    Spain: Tips of 10% are customary for taxis and hotels. In restaurants a service charge is figured into the bill, and it is appropriate to add up to 5% anyway. It is also common practice to leave a bit of change on your table at a café or pub or on the bar for your tender.

    France: Hotels may add up to 30% in service charges. Many restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity but diners are expected to add 5 to 7% more for the waiter in higher end establishments. In less formal cafes a few extra Euros are acceptable, and where the service fee is not included 15% will suffice. Taxi drivers typically expect 10% of the final fare.

    USA: Tipping is customary for service industry professionals: waiters, bartenders, taxi drivers, hairdressers, hotel porters and chambermaids, coatroom attendants, parking valets and airport skycaps. The tipping custom in the U.S. is 15 percent of the total bill - 20 percent or more for exceptional service. Tip coatroom attendants $1 per garment; parking valets $1-2 when you drop off your car and another $1-2 when you pick it up; hotel porters and airport skycaps at least $1 per bag; and hotel chambermaids $3-5 a day.

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