Tipping Made Easy

Although we all know that tipping is an expected part of traveling, many people have difficulty knowing how much and when.  Most people feel confident when tipping in restaurants; however, 15-20% is not appropriate for every situation. This week, I would like to provide you with a tipping guide to help you avoid awkward situations.

Let’s begin with a little information on tipping etiquette.  When traveling, keep small bills handy and accessible, so that you don’t have to delay anyone while fumbling to find your money.  You should never ask for change from the person you are tipping.  If you find yourself without the correct amount of money to tip, it is best not to tip until you can go somewhere to get your change.  Then you can bring the tip back.  It is well-known that tipping is used as a reward, but think about your timing.  If you are receiving the services of one person throughout your trip, feel free to give the tip to this person at the end of your visit.  However, if you want to ensure that you have good service throughout your stay, a larger tip up front may be a good idea.  Either method is acceptable.  Know the tipping policies at your location because more and more businesses are instituting a “no tipping policy” and are including the gratuities in the price of the service.

Drivers: Taxi drivers expect 15-20% of the total fare; however, if they help with your luggage then extra tipping is required.  For a courtesy shuttle driver, give $1-$2 per bag.  If you arrive in your own car, tip the valet $2-$3 each time they retrieve your car.

Hotels:  When you arrive at a hotel, give $1-$2 per bag to the doorman or porter who helps you.  You also need to give the same amount to the bellman that delivers the luggage to your room.  If they show you around or prepare your room in some way, then extra tipping is expected.  When tipping hotel maids, it is best to leave the tip daily because the same person may not be servicing your room each time.  Make sure you put your tip in a clearly marked envelope and leave it in an obvious place so that the maid is very clear that it is a tip.  They are not allowed to pick up any extra money that they find lying around your hotel room.  If you are staying in an average hotel, then $2-$3 per night is sufficient.  However, if you are staying in a luxury hotel, you should leave at least $4-$5 per night.  In most hotels, the gratuity for room service is already included, however, it is acceptable to tip the person who is delivering your order.  If you have special requests during your stay, such as extra towels, blankets, pillows, etc., it is customary to tip at least $1 per item at the time they are delivered.  If you make use of a hotel’s concierge service, tipping will vary depending on the service you receive.  You do not have to tip if you ask for directions or a recommendation for a restaurant.  However, if the concierge makes a reservation for you or obtains some type of event ticket, you should tip anywhere from $5-$10 dollars.  If you find that something in your room is not in working order, you do not tip the maintenance workers who are sent to your room for repairs.

Airport:  When arriving at an airport, tip the skycap $1 per bag if you are checking in curbside.  However, if they take your bags inside to the check in counter, you should tip $2 per bag.

Tipping practices can vary widely from city to city.  Use these guidelines, but ultimately, do what works best for you.  The tips above are for use in the United States only.  When traveling abroad, you will need a guide for the particular country that you are visiting.  Although tipping is expected in most situations, it is never required.  Tips should be thought of as a reward for good service, and if the service was not up to par or severely lacking, don’t leave a tip.  On the other hand, if the service was excellent and above what was expected, do consider leaving a larger tip than is required.  True tipping etiquette says that unless there is a severe problem, do leave some sort of tip, even if it may be a small one.  Finally, never make a show out of giving your tip to impress the people you are with. All tipping should be handled in a subtle way without calling attention to anyone.

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