Tipping Tips for Travelers

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While there are dozens of items on the average traveler’s packing checklist, one item commonly omitted is tip money. You might find that you often are confused about the rules and customs for tipping. A recent article written for Travel Market Report by Rich Thomaselli helped demystify the topic, and I wanted to share some of his advice with you.

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping While Traveling

It’s always one of the more interesting conundrums of traveling, either domestically or abroad — whom do you tip, when, and how much? Here are some guidelines that you can pass along to your clients.

Airports
If a rental car shuttle driver is helping load those heavy suitcases, it’s a good idea to tip him/her at least a dollar or two per bag. Double that for airport skycaps who assist in checking your bags. And depending on the length of the trip from counter to gate, a wheelchair attendant should receive $5 and up.

Hotels

Arriving by taxi or limo? Taxi drivers should receive 15 to 20% for good service. You can adjust upward or downward for a particularly good, or bad, ride. Same thing with limo drivers.

If you drive in with your own car and use the hotel’s valet service, there’s always the question of when to tip. Coming, or going? Answer: Definitely going. Tipping $2 to $5 when the valet retrieves your car when you are leaving the hotel is fairly common.

Bellhops should receive $3 to $5 a bag, obviously on the lower end for a gym bag or shopping bag and on the higher end for carry-ons and larger suitcases.

Tipping the concierge can be tricky, so think of it in terms of hierarchy. A simple dinner reservation is worth a tip of $5 to $10. But if he or she is scoring you tickets to Hamilton or pulling strings to get you front of the line at a trendy club, it clearly demands much, much more — even upward of $50. The concierge doesn’t necessarily expect it, but it is always appreciated.

Your hotel maid deserves a tip, and most experts suggest $2 to $5 a day, a little more for a larger room or a suite. Clearly mark the envelope and place it on the nightstand or another prominent place.

If you are staying at a high-end hotel/resort and have butler service — especially when the butler is unpacking and packing bags, getting your ironing or dry-cleaning done, drawing a bath, providing turn-down service — the general rule of thumb is 5% of the hotel bill.

Just as you would tip your restaurant waiter or bartender while going out at home, certainly tip them at a hotel, and be sure to tip a few dollars to those who deliver your room service order.

It doesn’t hurt to tip service workers who bring you an umbrella or towels at the hotel pool, $1 to $2 per item.

Cruises
Cruising is an interesting case, and some of the homework will fall on you or your travel agent for the research.

You should know the tipping policy of your cruise line before you go. In general, the mainstream cruise lines will charge you about $12 a day per person (or $24 for a two-person cabin) in gratuities. That money is split among the crew members whom you come in contact with most every day, notably your housekeeping staff and your dining staff.

And some luxury cruise lines, such as Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, have strict no tipping policies because such charges are often built into the cost of the ticket.

Your bar bill will likely already include a 15% tip on it, but just like a night out at any establishment a few dollars up front will certainly serve you well with your bartender.

Spa treatments also generally include a 15% to 20% tip on the bill.

It is still customary to give a couple of dollars to porters who help with your bags and for a room service order.

Shore excursions are sometimes set up by companies separate from the cruise line, but you should generally tip your guide $2 to $4 for half-a-day, double that for full-day excursions.

Safaris
In general, tip your guide $10 a day and your tracker $5 per day, at the end of the safari.

Adventure guides
Did you raft down the Colorado River and live to tell about it? Think about tipping your guide $25 per day per person in your party.

Tour bus drivers
While not necessarily customary, tipping the driver a couple of dollars when you are returned to the hotel or to the port is a nice gesture. There are times when a tour organizer might ask the bus passengers to drop a dollar or two in a jar for the driver as well.

Traveling abroad
Again, this is an area where your travel agent will come in handy, because different countries have varying, and sometimes opposite, rules and customs. In some countries, such as Japan and China, tipping, especially at a restaurant, is considered an insult. In countries like the United Arab Emirates, tipping is a government mandate and is often added to a bill.

Excerpts came from a Travel Market Report article dated January 18, 2018.

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