Who do you tip?
You have enough singles in your pocket to make it rain, but who gets what? From the moment you leave your front door until the moment your pretty little head hits those 1000-count Frette sheets in your hotel room, you’ve already needed to tip the driver to and from the airport, the service agents who checked your bags in curbside, the valet, the bellman, possibly the front desk clerk or concierge and we haven’t even gotten to room service or housekeeping yet.
But how about the bigger tipping concerns beyond just who to tip? What about: How much is customary to tip? When is it necessary to tip? And what is considered a generous tip? Here’s a little cheat sheet on everything you need to know about travel gratuity, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered.
While tipping is never mandatory, it’s is certainly appreciated and expected. Often, people feel obligated to tip or pressure to be generous — this shouldn’t have to be the case. With a straightforward tipping method you can relax and enjoy the service being provided. I always tend to start out at the 20 percent mark or at the higher end of the tipping scale. If I am pleased with the overall service, that’s my number and I’m sticking to it.
How much do you tip?
The percentage breakdown should look a little something like this:
- 25 percent + for phenomenal service
- 20 percent is the norm
- 18 percent is appropriate for decent service with room for improvement.
- 15 percent is when a manager needed to get involved. (Yes, of course you still tip.)
Keep in mind, in some areas like New York City or Las Vegas, tipping may be even higher. So feel free to bump up these numbers by 5 percent or what you feel is generous.
- Bartenders: Tip 20 percent of your beverage tab, $2 to $3 per drink on walk-up orders.
- Sushi Chefs: A separate tip of 15 percent
- Sommeliers: A separate tip of 15 percent
- The Maitre D: A discrete tip of $20 can be offered if something special has been arranged, or you have secured a table on a busy night.
- Waiters: Base your tip on the amount of the entire food, beverage and wine bill. Then add 20 percent. Do not make the common mistake of “just doubling or tripling the tax.” Most restaurant servers are responsible for “tipping out” 3 to 5 percent, so keep this in mind when considering an amount.
- Doorman: $5 if he has hailed a cab, assisted with a package or arranged transportation.
- Bellman: $5 per bag. The heavier the bag, the lighter your wallet.
- Front Desk: $20 if you have received a complimentary upgrade, or if you have any special requests.
- Concierge: $20 each time s/he helps assist you with tickets, dining reservations, etc.
- Room Service: a special service charge will be added to your room unless noted otherwise.
- Housekeeping: $10 a day or $25 for two nights. If you and your “roomies” are slobs, be generous. Very generous. The more you give, the more you get.
- Valet: $5 to $10 when dropping off, $3 to $5 when picking up.
- Chauffeur / Driver: $20
- Airport Shuttle: $5 per person
- Cab Drive: 20 percent
- Skycap: $2 to $5 per bag.
- Gate representative: Airline reps (usually) cannot accept any forms of gratuity. Send a nice letter via the airline’s website.
- Ski Instructors: 20 percent for group tours and 10 percent for private lessons.
- Tour Guides: 20 percent for group tours and 10 percent for private lessons.
OK, so maybe tipping can be a little tricky. I hope this tipping etiquette cheat sheet will help out a bit when trying to figure out who to tip, how much to tip and when is it appropriate to tip? I also want to mention that it is important to remember that not only does tipping vary from country to country (some places it is frowned upon,) but gratuity is included in most all-inclusive packages.
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