Tips on Tipping
Source: American Society of Travel Agents, Alexandria, Va.
Who do you tip? When? How much?
These are the questions that have nagged at consumers since the first service transaction. The practice of tipping is meant as a form of thank-you for services rendered, or beforehand as a subtle bribe for special treatment.
Tipping need not be considered mandatory or automatic. Too often, tips are taken for granted or expected regardless of the quality of service. Tipping should be done at your discretion and as a reward for good or superlative service.
Below are some tipping suggestions for travelers. At nearly every step of the traveling process, there are professionals waiting to “lighten your load” or provide assistance. So remember to carry a lot of change and small bills for tips.
- Taxi/Limo Drivers: A $2 to $3 tip is usually satisfactory; more if he helps you with your bags and/or takes special steps to get you to your destination on time.
- Porters: A standard tip for airport and train porters is $1 per bag; more if your luggage is very heavy.
- Hotel Bellman: Again, $1 per bag is standard. Tip when he shows you to your room and again if he assists you upon checkout. Tip more if he provides any additional service. Note: A $5 tip upon arrival can usually guarantee you special attention should you require it.
- Doorman: Typically, a $1 tip for hailing a taxi is appropriate. However, you may want to tip more for special service, such as carrying your bags or shielding you with an umbrella.
- Concierge: Tip for special services such as making restaurant or theater reservations, arranging sightseeing tours, etc. The amount of the tip is generally dependent on the type and complexity of service(s) provided—$2 to $10 is a standard range. You may elect to tip for each service, or in one sum upon departure. If you want to ensure special treatment from the concierge, you might consider a $10–$20 tip upon arrival.
- Hotel Maid: Maids are often forgotten about when it comes to tipping because they typically do their work when you are not around. For stays of more than one night, $1 per night is standard. The tip should be left in the hotel room in a marked envelope.
- Parking Attendants: Tip $1 to $2 when your car is delivered.
- Waiters: 15–20% of your pre-tax check is considered standard. The same applies for room service waiters. Some restaurants will automatically add a 15% gratuity to your bill, especially for large parties—look for it before tipping. If the 15% is added, you need only tip up to another 5% for superlative service.
- Cloakroom Attendants: If there is a charge for the service, a tip is not necessary. However, if there is no charge, or extra care is taken with your coat and/or bags, a $1 to $2 tip is appropriate.
- Tour Guides/Charter Bus Drivers: If a tip is not automatically included, tip $1 for a half-day tour, $2 for full-day tour, and anywhere from $5 to $10 for a week-long tour. Tip a private guide more.
These are some of the people you are most likely to encounter while traveling in the U.S. Undoubtedly there will be others. If there is one standard rule in tipping it is this: If someone renders special service to you along the way, show your appreciation with a tip.
NOTE: International travelers should be aware that tipping customs outside the U.S. are often very different. Consult travel guides for the country you are visiting.