Traveling and Tipping: When and How Much to Tip


When planning your dream vacation, there are many factors that you must consider. Once you have selected the destination, determined your budget, and booked your travel, you might think you are done. However, you probably did not take into consideration the many people that you will encounter along your travels; those who will help you along the way.

This raises the question that many people always battle with: who do you tip, and how much? It is easy to get confused when it comes to tipping, because the rules are not clear, especially when it comes to traveling.

So, what should you do? It all might seem overwhelming, especially since the laws of tipping are confusing, to begin with. To assist you in your journeys, we have compiled a guide, which will help you determine when and how much to tip while traveling.

Hotel Bellhop

When you arrive at your hotel, some employees might stand near the valet or the check in area and help you to your room. You do not have to accept their help, but if you do allow them to assist you with your bags, you should offer between $1-$2 per bag.

Hotel Housekeeping

Sadly, this is a service that is often overlooked because many times you will not see that your room was cleaned and your bed was made. If you leave the “do not disturb” sign on the outside of your door, your housekeeping service will return later. So, when you return, you will find fresh linen, towels, and a clean bathroom. While this might seem like something you paid the hotel to provide, it is hard and often disgusting work. You should tip your housekeeper $2-$5 per night, which you can leave on the nightstand, so they know it is for them.

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Hotel Concierge

When you arrive at a hotel, especially if it is a bigger chain, it can be difficult to determine which employee is which. A hotel concierge is essentially your “go to” person, one who assists guests by making reservations and booking shuttles. If your concierge arranges entertainment, reservations, or any service for you, then you should tip between $5-$10.

Hotel Valet

Sometimes it is free to valet your car, and sometimes it is rather expensive. Either way, remember that the person parking and retrieving your vehicle is doing a service. So, you should tip them between $2-$5 when you pick up your car.

Limo/Town Car Drivers

If you rented a town car and were not already charged an additional gratuity fee, you can leave an additional 15-20% to their cab fare.

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Shuttle Driver

A shuttle driver will pick you up at a hotel or airport and can be very helpful when it comes to transport. These people are often overlooked when it comes to tips because of quick pick up and drop off times, but you should tip them. Shuttle drivers should get between $1-$2 per person; you could tip more if they were helpful with your bags.

Tour Guide

You could not navigate your way through a strange city without a little help, and although they are paid to do it, tour guides are what will make, or break, a tour. Keep that in mind when tipping your tour guide and tip between 10-20% depending on the cost of the tour. If your guide is an employee of the Government or National Park, however, they should not receive a tip. Also, your tour driver should receive anywhere from $1-$5.

Sky Caps

When you arrive at the airport, the employee who handles your luggage at the curb and provides information to you is called a sky cap. You should tip these employees between $1-$2 per bag, and an additional $1-$2 for curbside check in.

Restaurants

While you are traveling, you have to eat, and the same rules apply as they would at home, which means you should always tip your bartenders, waiters, and waitresses. You can calculate your tip based on a percentage of your bill. While most people consider 20% standard, you can tip as low as 10% depending on the quality of your service.

Common Tipping Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that you should keep in mind to ensure that you do not leave a bad impression the next time you travel. First, the most common tipping mistake most people make is not tipping at all, which is the worst thing you can do. Also, do not tip people who are not in the service industry, such as doctors, therapists, and dentists.

Another very important caveat that you should consider is that in foreign countries, tipping rules are different. In fact, they can vary by country, region, and even situation. So, make sure you look up what the customs are in the area you are visiting so you do not offend anyone.

This might seem like a lot of information to process, especially when you are going on a leisurely trip. If you are having trouble remembering, try to recognize the individual employee that is offering you service, and if they have gone out of their way to help you, provide a little something more than what this guide has suggested.


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