Tipping Culture and USD vs Local Currency
Be sure to read over your DreamTrips Go-Guide to be sure if tips are included. In many cases, tips are included for transportation or group meals. Tips are usually NOT included for tour guides and excursion staff.
For most All Inclusive trips, tips are technically included; however, the included tips are far less than we would give in the U.S., so a little tipping goes a LONG way when you’re out of the country! If tipping isn’t common if your home city or country, we do recommend tipping in most places in the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States especially at restaurants, transportation and hotel staff. We recommend $5 for your bellman, $2-3 per day for your housekeeper, $5-10 for your waiter at an a la carte restaurant, and a few bucks for your bartender.
In general, US Dollars will always be accepted in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. In the United States, USD are the ONLY accepted currency aside from credit cards.
Exchanging money is not always necessary – however, you will get a better rate on things like taxis and local shopping if you pay in the local currency. To exchange money at the hotel, you will need to have your passport with you. You will only be able to exchange whatever currency you have for local currency or larger local currency for smaller local currency. If you only plan to use your money at the resort, USD will be just fine.
If you are using USD, you may find it difficult to get change in USD for $20’s and larger bills. We recommend bringing $50-$100 in $5 & $1 bills to use for tips and other things. The hotel will be unable to exchange larger USD bills for smaller USD bills.
Be sure to let your credit card company know you are leaving the country and where you are going. Many cards have a foreign transaction fee. This is usually a percentage of the purpose. Check with your bank to see if your card has a foreign transaction fee and how much that fee is.
Getting Cash while in a foreign country:
The best place to get cash is at the airport. Airports will have an exchange desk that is able to provide cash in most major currencies, including USD. The airport will likely be your ONLY opportunity to get additional cash before heading to your resort. Many airports do not function like a bank or ATM. They are able to give change or change one currency to another but they are not able to pull money out of your account. If you brought cash in USD and need smaller bills, the airport currency exchange can be very helpful. If you didn’t bring any cash at all, you’re better off waiting until you arrive at your hotel to get cash from an ATM.