When I am on a tour, tipping is one of those customs that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to tip too little and be seen as a cheapskate. And, I don’t want to tip too much and be seen as a fool. I’ve also found that knowing when to tip is every bit as important as knowing how much to tip.
After eight trips to Peru, I’ve finally figured out five guidelines that can help you avoid the awkwardness of tipping.
When the guide and the driver take you between the hotel and the airport, a tip of $2 (approximately 6 soles) each per person is appropriate. That’s a total of $4 (approximately 12 soles)
It is customary to tip hotel porters $1 (approximately 3 soles) per bag. For a single-night stay, there is no need to tip the cleaning staff. But, for multi-night stays, a tip of $1 (approximately 3 soles) per day is much appreciated.
For a full-day tour, I tip the guide between $5 (approximately 15 soles) and $10 (30 soles) per day and the driver between $5 (approximately 15 soles) and $7 (approximately 21 soles). This is a per-person tip. For a half-day tour, half is sufficient.
Cooks, porters, and animal handlers (think llamas, horses, and mules) accompany guides on a trek. I usually tip each $5 (approximately 15 soles) to $7 (approximately 21 soles) per day. This is also a per-person tip. I tend to tip more if the group is smaller. This is because treks are a lot of work and that work doesn’t diminish proportionally with the size of the group.
It’s important to figure out your tips when trekking before you leave. When I trekked the Inca Trail, there were people in our group who wanted to tip more, but didn’t have the necessary cash with them. They felt bad and, of course, our porters, cooks, and guides missed out on well-earned income.
Most meals on our trips are included. For those meals where you are on your own, a tip of 10% of the bill is the norm.
You can tip in soles or dollars. Merchants in Peru do not accept bills that are torn, crumpled, or dirty. So, make sure to use bills in good condition so that the recipient can actually use your tip.
In the end, tipping is a personal matter. So, feel free to tip more if you are especially pleased with the service and less if you aren’t.