Wait, What? How Much Do I Have to Tip?
Tipping Etiquette for Travelers
by Kwin Mosby
It’s happened more times than we care to imagine. The bellhop drops our luggage in our room or the waiter leaves the check, but we still have no idea what to leave for the tip for services rendered. Vacation cuts through the clutter to give you the real deets on how you should tip everyone from the bartender serving your favorite drink to the masseuse who just gave you that amazing deep-tissue massage.
Note: Keep in mind that in a foreign country, different rules often apply. Always have keep cash on hand, specifically one- and five-dollar bills (or the local equivalent).
Tip: $1 per drink or 15-20 percent of the total bill
You’re belly-up to the bar and about to leave after having a couple glasses of pinot gris or a mixed cocktail such as a mojito or whiskey sour. If you’re not sure how much to tip your friendly mixologist… well, now you know! And if you tip well and consistently at bars or pubs, you might receive a drink on the house. Don’t count on it, but there’s always a possibility.
Tip: $1 or $2 per bag
You still have more sightseeing to do, but you don’t want to haul your luggage around with you to see a couple more must-see attractions in New York City. Go luggage free! Stop by the hotel’s front desk and have the bellhop store your bags, but wait to tip him/her when he returns your bags.
Tip: $5 per request
“Can you help me book a rental car?” “Do you know where I can hop on a bus for a tour Seattle?” Yep, the concierge can be a lifesaver in making those last-minute decisions and they can help our experience in a new destination go a little bit smoother. Tipping is never expected, but always appreciated. And if you have requests that require a more legwork than normal… feel free to tip more.
Hotel Housekeeping/Maid Service
Tip: $2-$3 per night up to $5 or more for high-end hotels
You may not always need the assistance of a housekeeper, but sometimes they are required. Parents call housekeeping after their son Bobby contracts a stomach virus causing him to recreate the head-spinning Exorcist scene in real time. Or maybe it’s your bachelor buddy’s last hurrah that’s gets completely out of control. Yep, leave a good tip! Your token of appreciation should be left in an obvious place (on the pillow and or with note), preferably each day before you leave the room. Tip two- or three-bucks if additional items are delivered to your room such as extra hangers, pillows and yep, even those extra towels to clean up Bobby’s unfortunate mess.
In-Suite Dining Waiter
Tip: 15-20 percent if there is no gratuity added on bill
Sometimes your urge to quell your hunger pains comes late at night when almost all the nearby restaurants are closed, but room service is available. You order a burger and fries, but you’re confused about how much to pay the waiter. We’ll save you some time so you can start chowing down your food immediately. First, check the bill to ensure there is a tip included. Be aware that a service charge or convenience fee usually goes to the hotel… not the server. So, tip the waiter if the gratuity is not included on the bill.
Restaurant Wait Staff or Servers
Tip: 15-20 percent of the final bill
Knowing how to tip a waiter can be a tricky situation depending on how good or bad the service may be. Don’t let your money speak for you if you’re upset with the service provided. You should still leave the customary 15 percent even if you had terrible service and it was the server’s fault. Speak to a manager to express that you are unhappy with how you were treated and that you’re reluctant to return. Your chat will speak volumes!
And don’t be a snobbish patron trying to throw Benjamins at the host or manager to cut in front of customers on the waitlist. Don’t bribe for good service. Most staff find this insulting that you’d think they would change the way the restaurant is managed by dropping cash for favors.
Tip: 10-20 percent of final bill for services rendered
Oh! We understand the beauty of spending some time in a posh resort spa, and we also understand its power to help put that spring back into your step. So, when you’re relaxed and about to head out the door, you should make sure you ask the front desk attendant if the gratuity is included in the final bill. If not, then you should tip 10-15 percent for the service provided such as a manicure, massage or that caviar facial. And if you want, you can also leave a small tip ($1- $5) for the helpful attendant who showed you around the spa.
Tip: Short Tour: 10-20 percent of total cost / Long Tour: $5-10
You’re taking in all the sights that New Orleans has to offer via a walking tour, but how much do you pay for the tip. Here’s our go-to method… On a short bus tour (several hours), tip your guide 10-20 percent of the cost of the tour, but for a charter and sightseeing bus driver, like the popular “Hop-On, Hop-Off” city bus tours… $1 per day will suffice. On a longer route with no built-in gratuity, each passenger should give $5 - $10 to the guide and another $5 - $10 to the driver. You can always pay extra in all cases if you thought the guide was knowledgeable and had an exceptionally great personality. The only time you should not tip tour guides is if they are working at national parks or other government sites.
Tip: 10-15 percent of fare
When we say taxi… you know we also mean other forms of popular travel such as Uber and Lyft. From bad navigation to the chatty cab driver who’s not giving you one second of peace, your tip should be a direct reflection on the service received, but just make sure it’s between the average tip of 10-15 percent of fare. Remember the Lyft app allows you to rate and tip your driver, while drivers can also rate you (the customer), too. So, slow your roll, champ! You may want to think carefully before you downgrade your driver’s tip.