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A guide to tipping when on vacation

Posted by Scott Stueber on Jul 5, 2016 10:40:55 AM

GoldenGate.jpgWhen visiting local businesses in your community, figuring out tips is easy. If you received great service at your favorite restaurant, a 20% tip is appropriate. If you’re visiting your favorite watering hole, $1.00 - $2.00 per drink or 10-15% for the entire bill is appropriate.

What about when you’re on vacation? The rules may differ depending on where you go.

So much planning goes into a vacation, including air travel, accommodations, rental cars, and tours. My wife and I, however, often drop the ball when it comes to planning tips.

Last year in San Francisco, we went on a fantastic bike tour that took us over the Golden Gate Bridge. Our guide was interesting, full of knowledge, and took family pictures at various stops. At the end of the tour, many people walked away. However, we wanted to give him a tip. So there we stood trying to “Google” what an appropriate tip would be.

Here are some “tips” to help you determine appropriate tipping when you’re travelling with your family this summer in the United States.

Hotel Suggested Tips

  • Door attendants, bellhops: If they help you with your luggage, tip $1-$2 per bag.
  • Housekeeping: Consider $2-$5 per day. If you start tipping them at the beginning of your vacation, their service level may increase. If you request anything extra, a tip is also recommended.
  • Valets: Valets are usually paid at the time they bring your car to the front. The recommended tip is $3-$5.
  • Concierge: A concierge can provide a wealth of knowledge when on vacation. If they book reservations for you, consider tipping them $5-$10.

If you’re at a five-star hotel, consider tipping larger amounts.

Transportation Suggested Tips

  • Taxi driver: If you have a safe and uneventful ride, consider 10-15% of the cab fare.
  • Uber or Lyft driver: If you’re using a service like Uber and Lyft, a tip isn’t required. They charge it directly to your credit card.
  • Airport Shuttle driver: While parking costs can add up if you park at the airport, don’t forget about the shuttle drivers. If they help you with your bags, $1-$2 per bag is appropriate and appreciated.
  • Trains: If you use the dining car, consider a 15% tip. If you have a sleeping car, tip the attendant $5 per person per day.

Tour Guide Suggested Tips

While a nice tour could be expensive, please remember that in most cases, tips for the guides aren’t included.

  • Full day/half day tour: Tip your guide 10-20% based on the cost of the tour.
  • Independent guides: If you’re hunting, fishing, or taking a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, 10-20% based on the cost of the tour.
  • Driver guides: If you’re on a city bus tour and the driver is providing great commentary, tip 10-20% of the tour price.

Airport Suggested Tips

  • Skycaps: $2 per bag.
  • Electric car drivers: $2 per person.
  • Wheel-chair assistance: If you or a family member is being taken from the gate to baggage, tip $5. If they offer additional assistance, consider a bit more.

The tip amounts are suggestions. If you receive poor service, let them know through a tip or a conversation. A tip is never a guarantee.

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, tips may be a bit higher. Do your research ahead of time.

Do you have any tips or information on tires you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.

Additional Information

Etiquette 101: Your Guide to Tipping Around the World
Tipping Etiquette: A Guide for Travelers


Topics: Travel

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