Here’s Who To Pay While You’re on Vacation

Young man doing contactless payment for fries.
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Vacations are meant to be relaxing — but figuring out who you need to pay or tip for services along the way can be stressful. If your friend stops by to feed your cat, do you need to pay them? Are you expected to tip your travel agent? Who gets tipped (and how much) at your hotel?

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We’re answering all of these tricky travel etiquette questions — and more — so you can be prepared to face all of the money scenarios that will pop up along your trip.

Who To Tip During Your Hotel Stay

During the typical hotel stay, you’ll encounter a number of staffers that you’ll want to tip for their services. Joy Weaver, etiquette expert and author of “How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations,” says to tip the following people at your hotel:

  • Bellhop: “Tip at least $5 to $10 a bag, but only when the bellman delivers to your room.”
  • Room service: “If gratuity is included on the bill (it usually is included) no need to tip. If not, add 15-20%.”
  • Maid service: “Leave $3 to $5 in an envelope with a kind note saying, ‘Thank you for a job well done!'”
  • Concierge: “[Tip] $5 to $10 for reservations, and more for a really hard-to-get reservation.”
Make Your Money Work for You

One person you do not need to tip is the doorman: “You do not tip the person who opens the door for you — only the person who delivers luggage to your room,” Weaver said.

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How Much To Tip When Going Out To Eat

“If you receive exceptional service at a restaurant, tip 20% on your bill,” Weaver said. “If you receive bad service at a restaurant, let the manager know why you left a small tip. Remember to tip on the bill before tax.”

Weaver said you should also tip if you get takeout: “If you drive to pick it up, tip $0 to $3. If they drive it to you — this is a big deal! — tip at least 15% to 20% if the order is correct and the food is warm.”

If you are traveling outside the U.S., do some research into tipping customs.

“When you travel to other countries, check their tipping policies — many countries do not use our tipping method,” Weaver said.

How Much To Pay Your Pet or House Sitter

If you have someone walk your dog, water your plants or take on other pet or house-sitting duties, it can be tricky to figure out how much to pay them.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Always ask upfront when it comes to agreeing on the duties and cost of services of any kind,” Weaver said. “If you have a pet sitter — someone who does this for a living — agree on a price of services and tip them afterward — 15% if all went well, 20% if they went above and beyond.”

According to Thumbtack, the average pet sitter charges $25 to $30 for a daily visit or $75 to $85 to stay overnight, so keep these rates in mind when figuring out how much to pay your sitter. However, if you do not hire a professional and instead enlist a friend to take care of your pet or home, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable money situation — they likely won’t charge you, but don’t assume they will do it for free.

“If a friend agrees to care for your pet/plants/house while you are out of town, ask how much they will allow you to pay them,” Weaver said. “Of course, your friend will probably do it for free, so make sure to bring back a really nice gift or purchase a gift card depending on your budget — $50 to $75 per week — to their favorite restaurant or shop.”

Who Else You Should Be Tipping During Your Vacation

Weaver suggests tipping these other individuals you may encounter during the course of your trip:

  • Tour guide: “Tip 15% to 20%.”
  • Uber and Lyft drivers: “Uber and Lyft have tipping included on their app — it is up to you depending on service and length of the trip. $5-$10 is generally acceptable.”
Make Your Money Work for You

One person you do not need to tip is your travel agent: “They are paid a commission, but a postcard, a kind text with trip pictures included or a small gift from your travels is a thoughtful gesture,” Weaver said.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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