General Tipping Guidelines for U.S. Travel
Date Posted: 05/10/2013
When travelling we encounter a myriad of service providers that rely on gratuities for their livelihood. Tipping is often thought of as a personal choice designed to reward excellent service; however it may be considered rude not to tip something, even if the service is not good. Below are some general tipping guidelines when travelling in the U.S.
- Sedan service – usually include gratuity in their fare. If the chauffeur went above and beyond or if they were serving you all day, you may want to consider offering an additional tip.
- Taxi driver – 15-20% of the fare, but at a minimum $2 for the first bag and $1 for the second (if they handle your bags).
- Valet attendants – between $2 to $5 when the vehicle is returned to you
- Car rental agents – should not expect a tip
- Shuttle bus driver – $1 to $2 per bag
*Note: Any public driver who handles your bags should be tipped $1 to $2 per bag.
- Skycap – $2 for the first bag and $1 per additional bag is appropriate.
- Ticket counter – no tip (the exception to the rule)
- Bellman – $1 to $2 per bag. (You can carry your own bags to avoid paying multiple times to get you bags to your room. Having a decent, easy to manage bag will more than pay for itself.)
- Doorman – $1 to $2 to hail a cab, if they handle your bags the standard $1 to $2 for each bag applies.
- Housekeeping – a daily tip of between $2 -$5 put into an envelope marked “Housekeeping” and left where it will be easily found e.g. on the dresser or pillow
- Bartender – $1 per drink or 15-20% of your bill
- Concierge – depends upon the time spent and the service provided. If calling for a quick dinner reservation a “thank you” will suffice, however if she / he spend some time and make a few reservations $5 to $10 is appropriate to tip.
- Spa – check to see if the tip is included, if not tip 15-20% of the fee
When planning a trip we often overlook the cost of gratuities. A bag could cost up to $10 from the time it leaves your home to reach your hotel room.
- Buffet wait staff – 10% of bill
- Sit-down server – 15-20% of bill
- Restroom attendant – $.50 to $3 depending on the level of service
Note: For larger parties check to see if gratuity is included in the bill.
Restaurant employees are generally paid a small hourly wage and rely heavily on customer gratuities.
In summary, many people rely on tourism and tips from the customers they serve in the performance of their job on a daily basis. The amount of the tip is a personal choice and the above are general guidelines. My experience is that people who work in or have worked in a service industry are more sensitive to the amount of the tip, and when they experience excellent service tip much higher than the average.