Knowing how to tip when you’re in a foreign country can be a bit confusing. You may not be familiar with the currency, exchange rate or proper tipping etiquette. For example, in most European countries tipping isn’t customary since it is generally included in their salary.
Now you're planning a trip to Mexico and doing your research, it’s always better to be prepared when traveling, so thumbs up! Your vacation is the time to spend quality time with friends or family, relax and have some FUN. The last thing you need to do is stress on vacation! The number one thing most people stress about is money. You can read our article Dollar vs Peso which is filled with a ton of helpful information about the importance of using pesos as well as where you can find the best places to change your home currency.
Now we will discuss the proper etiquette on tipping so hopefully you won´t find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Tipping in Mexico is much like tipping in the States and Canada. That should be easy to remember right? But what about the other employees in service positions such as housekeepers and tour guides? We will try to cover all positions for you. Something I try to remind travelers that I speak with is that the base salary for the majority of people you will encounter make close to nothing. Working for tips is sometimes a tough game but it motivates people to provide exceptional service so if they do please show your appreciation!
T = To
I = Insure
P = Proper
S = Service
For servers /cocktail servers / bartenders - To cover the basics, servers and bartenders should be tipped an average of 15% to 20% on the total tab. This is important - Take a look closely at your bill, the IVA is the 11% tax charged on all transactions, this can help you calculate the appropriate tip according to the service received. If you are going round for round, $1 to $2 per round is good. This applies to hotel, restaurant and club staff. A big word of advice, again look closely at your bill, some places may already have, regardless of the number in your party, have included the tip in the total. Look for a charge called "propina" to see if it has already been added.
For the bellboys or people handling your luggage it is appropriate to tip them $1-$2 USD or around $20 pesos per bag. If you have large or heavy bags or if they carry them up a flight of stairs for you, toss them a little something extra.
For the housekeepers at the hotel the amount of tip will vary. Normally it's recommended to leave around $50 pesos per day or per visit to clean your room. If the room is trashed, please leave more, it’s not a glamorous job.
Spa service providers should also receive 15% to 20% of the total amount of services provided.
Tour or activity guides should be tipped by each person $5 USD or $50-$60 pesos if you are in a tour group of more than 20 people. If you are in a smaller tour group, 15% of the total cost of the tour is appreciated.
It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers unless they help you with luggage or groceries. If they wait for you while you run into the store or bank, trust me they will charge you for the time they wait, maybe even double.
If you need to make a run to the grocery store or Wal-Mart for example, you will notice that there are children and elderly people bagging your groceries. These people do not earn a salary or hourly wage. It’s customary to tip $10 pesos for elderly people who take better care with your things and a $5 peso tip for the younger kids. (These would be the coins. Remember that absolutely no foreign coins are accepted or worth any value here in Mexico!)
Let’s say that you rent a car during your vacation. Every gas station has attendants that will fill the gas tank for you. A $10 peso tip covers the service of fueling your car and another $10 for extra services such as a windshield wash.
For drivers that provide private transportation it is customary to tip $100-$200 pesos total.
For fishing charters the amount of tip has been a debatable topic. To make it simple, a 10% - 15% gratuity based on the price of the charter is fair. You should give it to the captain discretely and he will share accordingly with the crew. If you paid $600 USD for the trip, at least a tip of $60 should be given.
I hope that this will help clear up any doubts that you may have on how to tip while you are on vacation. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comment section below!
For more information about using pesos and your home currency in Mexico check out the article Dollar vs Peso - Which is better to use?