Who To Tip When You’re Traveling

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No one wants to intentionally stiff someone on a tip, but not everyone who deserves one will ask.

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Whether you’re loading up the car for a long-overdue road trip or jetting off to an exotic destination, you want to make sure you know the rules of proper tipping.

Tipping etiquette varies by country, said Henrik Jeppesen, a full-time travel blogger and the founder of the travel website Every Country in the World. He said a tip is a service professional’s wage in some countries but considered an insult in others.

“I’m from Denmark where tipping is not expected, and I have learned quite a few things about tipping while visiting every country [in the world],” he said. “In Japan, people can supposedly get offended if you tip, probably as they do their service with pride and not only for money, while in many other countries, a person might primarily give you good service because of the money.”

Additionally, Jeppesen said which service professionals typically receive gratuities can vary by country.

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“The best tip would probably be to ask a local person, before or just after arrival in a new destination,” he said.

Knowing whether tipping is expected at your destination is the first part of the equation. After that, you have to figure out how much gratuity to give, which can also be a challenge.

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While tipping guidelines vary by country, there are several standard rules you can follow regarding who receives gratuity and how much to give. Nailah Queen, owner of Royal Escapes Travel Agency, offers suggested tip amounts to her clients before they embark on their journeys.

She said shuttle drivers should be tipped at least $2 per bag for loading and unloading your suitcases. Airport bellhops who check and transport baggage should be tipped at least $5 per person, depending on the distance to your final destination — counter or transportation awaiting — according to Queen.

“Wheelchair attendants should receive a minimum of $5 for kids, and as the weight increases, so should the tip — especially if they are traveling a far distance,” she said.

When you reach your destination, Queen said hotel bellhops should be tipped $5 per bag for carry-ons and larger suitcases. Other hotel workers who assist you should receive $1-$2, she said.

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If you’re in a larger hotel suite, Queen said the housekeeper should be tipped a minimum of $2-$5 per day.

“You can either retrieve an envelope from the front desk or clearly mark it and place it on the nightstand or place where they leave their care for cleaning,” she said.

If you seek out butler service during your stay, Queen said tips should start at $50.

“I usually say 5%-10% of your room rate,” she said. “More of the latter, especially if they are unpacking and packing bags, getting your ironing or dry-cleaning done, drawing a bath, providing turn-down service, arranging excursions, making dinner reservation[s], arranging special events, room decorating or any other important details you request.”

As for concierge services, Queen said $5-$10 is customary, depending on the services provided.

“Above and beyond service should reflect in your tip and increase the amount,” she said.

One of the most relaxing perks of a hotel stay is room service, and if you receive this perk, you should tip $3-$5 for delivery, she recommended.

If you drive to your destination or rent a car, Queen said hotel valets should be tipped $2-$6 each time they retrieve your vehicle. When you take a taxi or limo, she recommended tipping the driver 15%-20% for good service.

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When you go out to a restaurant, she said servers should be tipped 15%-20%, if you’re pleased with the service provided. Slightly less, Queen recommended tipping bartenders 10%-15% of the cost of your drink.

Tipping appropriately is essential, but it can add up fast, so it’s important to include it in your vacation budget. This will allow you to enjoy a more stress-free trip because you won’t spend more than intended giving well-deserved gratuities.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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