Use USD to tip local tour guide and bus driver

I will be traveling in a few countries this fall. I will also take a river cruise. The travel company instruct me that I can pay tip with local or USD. Is is common and acceptable for tourist to tip with USD? Thank for you advice

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Something tells me a local would not appreciate being paid in USD. Would you like to get paid in Turkish Lira?

Posted by rick
Bellevue, WA
256 posts

I am taking a land and river cruise tour. I get a 26 pages of information and instruction from the travel company which cover everything in detail. The tipping parts as following: Suggested Tipping: European River Cruises Crew: $16 per person per day. Tour Manager: $7 per person per day Suggested Tipping : Independent Tours Hotel:: Porter: $3 per bag Wait staff: 5-10% of the bill. Housekeeping: $3 per person per day Local Sightseeing Tours: Guide: $3 per person per half day. Driver: $2 per person per half day. The instruction do not mention or refer to any other currency. Except the tip for the crew member which I can paid via on board ship account.( I assume that mean credit cards) All other have to paid in cash.
Thank you for you advice and help.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

I can't believe all that tipping. I'd give them all an IOU at the end of the trip.

Posted by James
Frisco
1797 posts

I have always thought that "suggested" tipping schemes were in poor taste. I hope that it isn't a clue to the rest of the experience you are about to have. I guess in this situation on the boat that Dollars would be fine. They asked for it and I bet the company exchanges it for the employees. There have been times in such situation where I received really good service and would have left more if not insulted by the suggested tipping scheme. So they lost out and I don't feel bad about it. If the restaurant puts 15% on the bill that all they get, no matter how great the service. If they don't stick the tip on the bill and the service is outrageously special I often tips much more than 15%. I don't know where you are going but in most of Europe and especially in Central and Eastern Europe rounding up to the next full denomination is all that is generally expected outside of tourist zones. In other words a 4,250 to 4,500 ft bill in Budapest I might round to 5,000ft and that would be common. As you would expect, more for great service, but very, very rarely nothing even for bad service. Would I leave dollars? You know, there have been times when that was all I had and I really wanted to say thank you so I splurged and left $10 on a $30 meal. At least $10 is worth the effort to go and change it. But its not really a desirable situation. Deal fairly and from your heart and no one has a right to complain, no matter what you do.

Posted by stan
Kansas City, Missouri
219 posts

For tips of cruise personnel, have it rolled up into your total bill. For any services off the ship where you actually have to hand cash to a person, it is an imposition on the server to give them a tip in a foreign currency and expect them to take the time and effort to exchange a relatively minor sum of money into something they can spend. I suppose if you gave someone a really large tip in dollars, they might not mind, but there is no advantage to the receiver to take dollars.
The local tip guidance they are giving you seems awful general. Some people tip as much as they do in the US which is way more than locals do. I would suggest read the RS guides for wherever you are going and see what is normal for those countries. PS some cruise ships have ATMs or banking services that will provide cash in local currency, but don't expect good rates.

Posted by Emily
Vienna, Austria
309 posts

As the cruise company likely has routes through many countries with many currencies, it would be impossible for them to list the amounts in all the varying countries for each tipping category. Reading what you have pasted from the company's website, it is clear to me that it is listed in dollars, not as a suggestion/blessing that you can pay in dollars, but for the traveler's to estimate total tipping costs in one currency. I think the company expects you to the math/conversion into local currency. Bottom line - do not tip in dollars, it will not be taken kindly, especially in small bills.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

rick, I agree with Ed on tipping in US dollars. While the cruise firm may suggest that, keep in mind that the crew will then have to convert it to their local currency, possibly at a less favourable exchange rate. The whole concept of "suggested gratuities" irritates me to some degree. I'd prefer to determine the tip based on the service I receive. Telling me that I'm "expected" to tip the crew $16 per day is doesn't "sit well" with me. This is one reason why I prefer RS tours and have avoided other tour firms (and river cruises). Cheers!

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
435 posts

Don't you have the option to add the tips to your onboard account like any other cruise?

Posted by rick
Bellevue, WA
256 posts

I talk to the travel company. They told me that you can pay tip in either local currency or USD for all the tours. No problem. They get it everyday. Thank you for all your advices.
Have a good day!