Whom to tip, how much, and in what currency or format is largely dependent on where you’re travelling. Some people you might tip include taxi or shuttle drivers, hotel staff (including the bellhop, concierge and room attendant), servers, tour guides, street performers and locals posing for pictures. You might think that there is no harm in just tipping everyone generously just to be safe, but if you travel to Japan for example, it might not be well-received. That’s not to say that tipping in Japan is unheard of, you just need to know when it’s appropriate and how to go about it.
Sometimes it can also be prohibited by the employer for the staff to receive anything extra, which can be the case for some all-inclusive resorts and restaurants where the service fee is already included in the bill. Gratuity percentages also range for services and in some cases, just rounding up the bill is sufficient. Either way, it’s best to research your destination ahead of time to know what is expected and what is customary.
Additionally, don’t expect that you can just tip in Canadian dollars or even American dollars, for that matter. First, Canadian $1 and $2 are coins and will not be accepted in most banks and exchange places abroad, so the minimum you can tip will be $5. Second, local currency means just that; it’s what is used in the place you are visiting, so you should not hesitate to use it to tip. American money may be widely accepted and easily exchangeable for local currency in many places (such as the Caribbean), but it may not be the best way to go. The person you are tipping will have to take time out of their day to go and exchange it in the end anyway, so you might as well just get local currency in the first place since you will need it for your purchases anyway.
An important note about housekeeping
When tipping a hotel room attendant, it should be done each day and not in a lump sum at the end of your stay. This is because the person who cleaned your room the day you checked out might not be the same person who cleaned it all week. It is not only a way to show appreciation for a job well done, but also a way to continue to ensure superior service for the length of your stay.
Again, research your destination with regards to their customs around tipping before you head out. Here is a link to a tipping guide for some popular destination-countries. It is always best to tip in cash to make sure the person providing the service will actually receive it. Get local currency before you go so that you have money when you land (and you don’t get stuck paying expensive airport exchange rates and fees) for a taxi or shuttle from the airport, and for the hotel staff when you arrive.