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Money Blog Series: Cash for holidays and how to tip

May 13, 2016

Nothing quite says my holiday is so close I can almost taste it like getting your cash changed into a whole lot of notes that you spend far too long studying. While often we leave this until last, there are benefits to shopping smart for exchanging money. Similarly, in the UK we’re privileged with a minimum wage so our tipping is usually reserved for exceptional service. However, in other parts of the world (especially the USA if any of us are lucky enough to have travelled there!) this doesn’t exist and so tips become a key part of any holiday experience. We’ve done the research for you to help ensure you don’t upset any locals during your next active holiday.

If you’ve been really careful in sourcing the best flight, hotel and activity deals for your upcoming holiday, then it’s as important to ensure the best deal for exchanging your money. Whether you prefer to use cash or card when on your travels, we recommend taking at least a little bit of cash in case you need to pay for a taxi or public transport from the airport to your final destination. Exchange rates vary daily, so it can be beneficial to start looking early and wait until the time is right to convert your cash to ensure you get the best deal. Aside from this, you’ll find the worst exchange rates at departure airports who look to capitalise on those of us who aren’t so organised when planning our active holiday abroad. However, if you like to live life dangerously, you may reap the rewards if you wait until arriving in your destination city to get your money exchanged – be careful though!

What can be quite confusing and sometimes lure you into making the wrong choice about converting your currency is commission! Some places will charge a commission, i.e. taking a % of the amount you’ll receive as a sort of service charge. While this can sometimes mean better-looking exchange rates, it’s worth doing your working out to calculate exactly how much of this you’ll end up losing to commission. Our tip here though is to not be put off by places charging commission as we’ve found better deals here than those advertising as “commission-free”.

For those who would rather stick with the currency they’re familiar with, this is all well and good so that you can easily work out what you’re spending. However, while some bigger supermarkets abroad might offer this, a lot won’t. And for those bigger chains that do, the exchange rate will definitely not be in your favour so may actually end up costing you more than it should!

Tipping in Europe

While in America it’s often, reading a bill at a restaurant might have you thinking you’ve got an awesome deal – it’s highly expected to provide a tip unless you’ve had completely horrific service. In Europe however, this is much less likely with restaurants sometimes including a service charge at the end of the bill, while a lot of people won’t expect to be tipped in these industries. Often here it is more to reward for exceptional service, or convenience-sake to round the bill up to an even number.

In different countries however there are different customs to note when tipping. In Germany for example, it’s customary to tell your server when paying the bill how much you would like to tip. So for example if your bill is €41 and you’d like to tip them €4 but only have €50, you would tell them “€45” as you hand them your cash to receive €5 in return. In the Czech Republic it is just a gesture of appreciation to give a few extra coins as a tip. However, in less tourist-populated areas, this is not expected and some locals may even take offence to it.

In Finland, tipping isn’t commonplace except for in bars. Here bouncers may be tipped when leaving with the tips being pooled among all the staff. However, inside you might find a tip bell (tippikello) near the counter where the bartender will strike the bell with the largest coin whenever they receive a tip!

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