Gratuities may be a little confusing while traveling in a new country. You might ask yourself questions like “Are tips required?”, “How much do I give?”, OR even “when do I give tips?” In this blog post I’ll give you all a little break down on how the tipping system works in Africa.
#1 Why we tip.
Tipping varies from place to place and in Africa, the act of tipping is customary. It’s not obligatory or even mandatory, but whether you tip or not shows just how much you appreciate services you’ve received. In Africa salaries are significantly lower than those of first world countries, so tips are greatly appreciated! While traveling through Africa make sure to spread some love! It will be greatly received.
#2 Who to tip.
Unlike Australia, in Africa tips are a way of life an contribute to earning a living wage. Tips are generally given to those working in the service industry and workers who aren’t considered “professional”. This includes waitstaff, drivers, guides, spotters/trackers, cooks, cleaners, porters, maintenance workers, etc. Staff, especially in lodges, will always try very hard to make sure their guests have the best time possible!
#3 How to hand over tips.
While on your trip there will be many opportunities to tip – but how do we go about this? It’s not always as simple as leaving a tip on the table after a delicious meal. There are many ways to give and I’ll help you get familiar with their systems.
*Communal Tip Box:
When staying at a Lodge there are usually communal tipping boxes on site. Typically, they should have one for front-of-house staff and another for back-of-house staff. Just put your tips in the box and at the end of the day, the tips will be divided among the staff.
*Handing tips over to the manager:
With this option, you are more than welcome to hand over your tip to a manager when leaving and let them know who the tip is for. This is a riskier way to hand over tips as you don’t always end up seeing where your money goes.
*Handing tips over directly:
If you want to make sure a particular person receives your tip, I’d suggest handing it over to them directly. This makes your intentions clear and you get the peace of mind that your money is in the right hands.
* Adding it to your credit card bill:
This one is not always advised as most lodges and camps don’t allow this – but if they do then this way is a simple way to tip.
If you’d like to give a tip you can always add it onto your bill. This not only applies to your accommodation bill or a restaurant bill, but if you’re in their souvenir shop and you decide to purchase something, you can always add tips to that bill as well.
*Pre Purchase tipping with your Safari:
An optional may be to pre purchase your tipping when you book your safari. TravelJoy offer this convenient service for some of their safari packages. This takes away all the stress and certainly helps with budgeting too.
#4 How much to tip.
Tipping amounts vary depending on who you’re tipping. Here’s a list of general tipping rules:
- US$1 per bag for porters
- US$1–$2 per day for hotel staff
- US$3–$5 per day for personal butlers, trackers, drivers
- US$10 per day for professional guides and/or drivers who are with you throughout the trip
- US$5–$10 for guides on one day or half day tours
- US$5 for tracker while on safari
- US$1–$2 for airport/ hotel transfer drivers
While service-providers in many African countries will gladly accept US Dollars, it is often more appropriate to tip in the local currency. If tipping in US Dollars, please ensure that each note was printed post 2008, are not old or torn as they may not be accepted. In South Africa, for example, tips should be given in Rand. It is not recommended to use AUD to tip in Africa.
Trying to navigate the world of tipping can be hard. Every country has its own customs and rules when it comes to tipping, but thankfully a lot of these tourist destinations have grown to accommodate and educate travelers on the appropriate tipping rules. So don’t you worry if you forget some of my suggestions! There should be some signs in restaurants or even some guidance on receipts.
Don’t stress about it! 🙂