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How Much Should I Tip An Excursion Guide?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jammie Coles



When embarking on an exciting excursion or guided tour, it’s not uncommon to wonder about the appropriate etiquette when it comes to tipping your guide. Tipping is a way to show appreciation for excellent service and to acknowledge the hard work and expertise of the guide. However, the amount to tip can vary depending on several factors. In this article, we will delve into the world of tipping and provide you with some helpful guidelines to navigate this often-confusing area.


It’s important to note that tipping customs may vary depending on the country or region you are visiting. While tipping is generally customary in many Western countries, it may not be the norm in other parts of the world. Researching the tipping customs of your destination will ensure that you follow the appropriate guidelines.


Factors such as the duration of the excursion, the type of tour, the quality of service, and even your personal budget can all come into play when deciding how much to tip your excursion guide. Tipping is a personal decision, but understanding the general recommendations and factors to consider can help you make an informed choice.


In the following sections, we will provide you with average tipping recommendations, specific tipping etiquette for group tours and private guides, as well as considerations for specialized, adventure, or outdoor excursions. We will also address the topic of tipping on cruise ship excursions. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how much you should tip based on the different scenarios you may encounter during your travels.


Factors to Consider

When determining how much to tip your excursion guide, there are several factors that you should take into consideration. These factors can help you gauge the appropriate amount to show your appreciation for their services:

  1. Duration of the Excursion: The length of the tour can impact the amount you tip. A shorter tour may warrant a lower tip compared to a full-day or multi-day excursion.
  2. Type of Tour: The type of tour can also play a role in determining the tip amount. A basic sightseeing tour may have a different tipping standard compared to a specialized tour, such as a historical or cultural excursion.
  3. Quality of Service: The level of service provided by your guide is an important factor to consider. If they went above and beyond, provided valuable insights, or ensured your comfort throughout the tour, a higher tip may be appropriate.
  4. Local Cost of Living: The local cost of living in the destination can also influence tipping customs. If the cost of living is higher, it may be customary to tip a higher percentage. Conversely, in countries with lower costs of living, the tipping percentages may be lower.
  5. Personal Budget: Lastly, your personal budget is an important factor to consider. While it’s important to show appreciation for your guide’s efforts, it’s also vital to make sure that you don’t exceed your budget. Finding a balance that works for you is key.

By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision about how much to tip your excursion guide. Remember, tipping is a gesture of appreciation and should reflect the quality of service you received and align with your personal circumstances.


Average Tipping Recommendations

While tipping customs can vary from country to country and even within different regions, there are some general tipping recommendations that can serve as a starting point when deciding how much to tip your excursion guide. Here are some average tipping percentages based on industry standards:

  • In the United States and Canada, a common guideline is to tip 15% to 20% of the total cost of the tour. However, if the service was exceptional, you may consider tipping up to 25%.
  • In European countries, such as France, Italy, and Spain, it is customary to tip around 10% to 15% of the total cost of the tour.
  • In Australia and New Zealand, tipping is not as prevalent as in some other countries. However, if you were satisfied with the service, a tip of 10% can be considered.
  • In Asian countries, tipping customs can vary significantly. In Japan, for example, tipping is not a common practice and can even be considered rude in some situations. In contrast, countries like Thailand and Indonesia may have tipping expectations ranging from 5% to 10%.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and it’s always a good idea to research the specific customs of the country you are visiting. Local customs and cultural norms can play a significant role in tipping expectations.


Additionally, if your tour includes multiple guides or support staff, such as drivers or porters, you may need to allocate your tip accordingly. It’s a good idea to check with your tour operator or research the specific recommendations for the particular tour you are taking.


Keep in mind that these percentages are just a starting point, and you can adjust them based on your satisfaction with the service provided. If the guide went above and beyond or made your experience truly exceptional, feel free to tip more generously as a gesture of appreciation.


Tipping Etiquette for Group Tours

When participating in a group tour, it’s important to understand the tipping etiquette to ensure a fair and appropriate tip for your excursion guide. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Check the tour documentation: Some group tours may include a suggested tipping amount or provide specific guidelines for tipping the guide. Check the tour information or consult with the tour operator to determine if there are any specific recommendations.
  • Consider the group size: In larger group tours, the tip is often divided among the guide and any additional support staff, such as drivers or assistants. In this case, it is common to provide a lump sum tip that will be distributed accordingly.
  • Factor in the guide’s role: If the guide is solely responsible for leading the tour and providing commentary, a tip of around 10% to 15% of the total tour cost is a good starting point.
  • Be aware of optional activities: In some group tours, there may be optional activities or excursions that are not included in the base price. If you participate in these additional activities and received excellent service, consider tipping the guide extra for their assistance.
  • Personalize your tip: If the guide went above and beyond by providing exceptional service or sharing valuable insights, you may choose to provide a higher tip as a token of your appreciation.

It’s important to follow the group dynamics when tipping on group tours. Talk to fellow travelers, observe the overall satisfaction level, and consider the quality of service provided before determining the appropriate amount to tip. Remember, tipping is optional, but it’s a way to acknowledge and show gratitude for the guide’s efforts in making your group tour enjoyable and informative.


Guided Excursions with a Private Guide

When you have the privilege of experiencing a guided excursion with a private guide, there are some specific considerations for tipping etiquette. Since you have personalized attention and a more intimate experience, it’s important to take these factors into account when determining the appropriate tip for your guide:

  • Quality of service: With a private guide, you’ll receive one-on-one attention and customized service. If your guide goes above and beyond to make your experience exceptional, consider tipping accordingly. A tip of around 15% to 20% of the total cost of the tour is a good starting point for excellent service.
  • Duration of the tour: If you spent a full day or multiple days with your private guide, it is common to tip a higher percentage than you would for a shorter excursion. This reflects the effort and commitment provided by the guide throughout the extended period.
  • Customization and expertise: Private guides often provide personalized itineraries and in-depth knowledge of the destination. If your guide has crafted a unique experience tailored to your interests or shared valuable insights, a higher tip can be appropriate to recognize their expertise and effort.
  • Ability to accommodate special requests: If your guide goes out of their way to accommodate any special requests or make adjustments to the itinerary based on your preferences, consider tipping extra to show your appreciation for their flexibility and willingness to make your tour memorable.

Tipping your private guide is a way to show appreciation for the exclusive and personalized experience they have provided. It’s important to remember that these are general guidelines, and you can adjust the tip amount based on your satisfaction and the level of service received.


Before your guided excursion with a private guide, consider checking with your tour operator if there are any specific recommendations or guidelines regarding tipping. Additionally, it’s a good idea to discuss potential tipping expectations during the initial conversations with your guide to ensure a smooth and mutually understood arrangement.


Tipping for Customized or Specialized Tours

Customized or specialized tours offer unique experiences catered to your specific interests and preferences. These tours often require extensive planning and expertise on the part of your guide. When it comes to tipping for these types of tours, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Level of customization: If your guide has put in extra effort to create a personalized itinerary or has arranged special activities or experiences based on your interests, it’s customary to show your appreciation with a higher tip. Consider tipping around 15% to 20% of the total tour cost or more, depending on the level of customization provided.
  • Expertise and knowledge: Specialized tours often involve guides with extensive expertise in a specific area, such as art, history, or wildlife. If your guide has shared in-depth knowledge and provided valuable insights throughout the tour, consider tipping above the average recommended percentage to acknowledge their specialized expertise.
  • Unique experiences or access: If your guide has arranged unique opportunities or provided access to exclusive sites or events during the tour, a higher tip can be appropriate. Recognize their efforts in securing these special experiences for you with a more generous tip.
  • Overall satisfaction: Consider your overall satisfaction with the tour and the guide’s ability to meet your expectations. If you had an exceptional experience and the guide exceeded your expectations, you may choose to tip at the higher end of the recommended range or even go above it.

Tipping for customized or specialized tours is a way to acknowledge the extra time, effort, and expertise that went into creating your unique experience. It’s important to communicate your expectations and preferences with your guide before the tour begins to ensure they can tailor their services accordingly. Discussing tipping expectations in advance can also help avoid any awkwardness or misunderstandings.


Remember, tipping is not an obligation, but a gesture of appreciation for exceptional service. The recommended percentages provided are guidelines, and you can adjust them based on your satisfaction, the level of customization, and the overall quality of the tour.


Tipping for Adventure or Outdoor Excursions

Adventure or outdoor excursions often involve activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, or wildlife encounters. These types of tours require specialized skills and equipment, and tipping etiquette can differ from traditional guided tours. Here are some considerations for tipping on adventure or outdoor excursions:

  • Guide’s expertise and safety: Adventure guides often have extensive training and knowledge in outdoor activities. If your guide demonstrated exceptional skills, ensured your safety throughout the excursion, and provided insightful information about the natural surroundings or wildlife, consider tipping around 10% to 15% of the total cost of the tour.
  • Equipment and gear: Adventure tours may require the use of specialized equipment or gear, such as kayaks, bikes, or climbing gear. If your guide took the time to properly set up and maintain the equipment, ensuring your comfort and safety, you may consider tipping an additional amount to acknowledge their efforts.
  • Group dynamics: In some adventure tours, you may be part of a small group. It’s important to consider the overall satisfaction and experience of the group when determining the appropriate tip. If the guide successfully managed the group dynamics and created a positive and enjoyable environment, a higher tip may be warranted.
  • Environmental consciousness: If your guide emphasized the importance of environmental stewardship and demonstrated responsible practices throughout the tour, you may choose to tip more generously as a token of appreciation for their commitment to preserving the natural surroundings.

Tipping on adventure or outdoor excursions is a way to acknowledge the specialized skills and efforts of your guide in providing a safe and memorable experience. While these percentages are general recommendations, it’s essential to consider the specific circumstances of your tour, including the level of difficulty, the duration, and the overall satisfaction with the guide’s services. It’s also worth noting that some adventure companies may have specific guidelines or policies regarding tipping, so it’s helpful to consult with the tour operator beforehand.


Remember, tipping is a personal gesture, but it shows gratitude for the guide’s expertise and dedication to making your adventure excursion enjoyable and memorable. Don’t hesitate to express your appreciation for their efforts by tipping accordingly.


Tipping on Cruise Ship Excursions

When taking part in excursions organized by a cruise ship, tipping etiquette may vary slightly from other types of tours. Here are some important points to consider when tipping on cruise ship excursions:

  • Check the cruise line’s policies: Different cruise lines may have their own specific guidelines or recommendations for tipping on excursions. These guidelines are often outlined in the pre-cruise information or can be obtained from the ship’s guest services desk.
  • Tipping built into the excursion cost: In some cases, the cost of the excursion may already include a service charge or gratuity for the guide. This means that an additional tip may not be necessary unless you feel the service exceeded your expectations.
  • Group size and dynamics: Cruise ship excursions can involve larger groups, which may impact the level of personal attention from the guide. Consider the guide’s effort to manage the group dynamics and provide useful information to all participants when determining an appropriate tip.
  • Quality of service: Assess the quality of service provided by the guide during the excursion. If the guide went above and beyond, shared interesting insights, and ensured a smooth experience, consider tipping around 10% to 15% of the total cost of the excursion.
  • Additional services or activities: Some cruise ship excursions include optional activities or add-ons, such as snorkeling gear rental or entrance fees to attractions. If you participated in these extras and received excellent service, consider tipping the guide extra for their assistance.

It’s important to check the specific policies and guidelines of the cruise line you are traveling with. Some cruise lines have a recommended tipping range for excursions, while others may discourage tipping altogether. Adhering to the cruise line’s policies ensures that you are following the appropriate tipping etiquette and not inadvertently offending any staff members.


Tipping on cruise ship excursions is a personal decision, but it’s a way to show appreciation for the guide’s efforts in making your excursion enjoyable and informative. If you are unsure about the tipping expectations on a specific excursion, don’t hesitate to ask the cruise staff for guidance or clarification.


Final Thoughts

Tipping your excursion guide is a way to express your gratitude for their hard work, expertise, and the memorable experiences they provide during your travels. While tipping customs can vary depending on the destination and type of tour, considering the factors mentioned throughout this article can help you navigate the sometimes-confusing world of tipping etiquette.


Remember, tipping is a personal choice, and there is no hard and fast rule. It’s important to balance your budget with the level of service you received and your overall satisfaction. If you feel that your guide delivered exceptional service, don’t hesitate to show your appreciation with a more generous tip.


Before your excursion, it’s always a good idea to research tipping customs specific to the country you are visiting. Understanding the local expectations will help you navigate any cultural differences and ensure that your tip is well-received.


Additionally, open communication is essential. If you have any questions or concerns about tipping, don’t hesitate to ask your tour operator, guide, or fellow travelers. They can provide you with valuable insights and advice based on their experiences.


Lastly, trust your instincts and consider the overall experience and level of service provided. Tipping is a gesture of appreciation, and when given sincerely and appropriately, it can make a significant impact on the guide’s livelihood and morale.


By following these guidelines and considering the specific circumstances of your excursion, you can navigate the world of tipping with confidence, ensuring that your appreciation for your excursion guide is expressed thoughtfully and respectfully. Enjoy your excursions and travel adventures, and remember to tip generously for exceptional service!