Camino Tip No. 12: Spanish tipping etiquette

Tip Number 12: Learn Spanish tipping etiquetteIn addition to preparing yourself physically and with the right gear, you should familiarize yourself with Spanish customs, such as the Spanish tipping etiquette. You don’t want to be the “Ugly American” by not tipping enough or the foolish tourist by over tipping. In Spain, the propina (tip) is a reward for extraordinary service and is not obligatory.

Excerpt from Women of the Way, Embracing the Camino:

According to Spanish custom:
  • It is not required to tip at most restaurants, though leaving the change returned after paying the tab is becoming acceptable. The exception is at formal sit-down restaurants where a one- or two-euro tip is typical. Locals do not tip when eating the “menu of the day,” a specially priced menu that includes soup or salad, a main dish, bread (without butter), dessert, and a glass of wine or beer.
  • Though taxi drivers do not expect tips for taxi fares, rounding up the fare to the next euro and adding a little something (coins less than a euro) for assistance with luggage is also acceptable.
  • In hotels, it is not necessary to tip except in upscale settings. Though it is courteous to tip the bellhop for lugging suitcases to the room, it is not necessary to tip anyone else in the hotel.
The reason for not tipping is that waiters, hoteliers, and taxi drivers earn a decent salary and are not dependent on tips to make a living wage. These workers also get government health benefits and paid vacation time, unlike similar employees in the United States.

Tipping in albergues, refugios, and donativos

Just as in hotels, pilgrims are not required to tip in albergues, refugios, and donativos; but if the service is extraordinary, feel free to reward the person. Often the workers in refugios and donativos are volunteers who have walked the Camino and are returning to “pay back” to the Camino by assisting other pilgrims. Many of these pilgrim shelters do not charge a specific fee to stay there, but ask for a donation “donativo.” This is not a tip, it is a donation to help defray the cost of running the facility and, at times, the cost of the meal. The customary donation is between 5€ and 15€—the amount you would pay to stay in an albergue where the cost is specified. Since the donativo buys the food for the next day’s meal, your generosity is appreciated by the pilgrims who are walking a day behind you. Consider the adage, “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” when dropping coins in the donativo box.

 

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