Tipping is one of the trickier issues in the travel industry. Most people believe in rewarding hospitality workers who provide quality services in hotels, restaurants, and certain types of transportation, but the circumstances and amount often vary wildly from traveler to traveler. There are no hard-and-fast tipping laws, but the following guidelines on how much you should tip while traveling represent a consensus of opinions from several respected sources, including USA Today, Emily Post, AARP, and Consumer Reports:
|Car Valet||$0-3 for parking your car; $2-5 when picking it up|
|Doorman||A simple “thanks” for opening the door; $1-2 for hailing a cab (an extra $1 if it’s raining); $1-4 for carrying luggage; $1-4 for special services|
|Concierge||Nothing for simple services; up to $25 for extra tasks (e.g., finding hard-to-get concert tickets)|
|Bellhop||$2 for your first bag, $1 for additional bags|
|Maid||$2-3 per guest per night, left each morning in an envelope marked “Housekeeping — Thank You”|
|Room Service (food)||10% for a regular order; 15-20% for a difficult order; $1-2 if your bill already includes a “service charge”|
|Room Service (room needs)||$1-3 per item; $5-10 for particularly quick service|
|Room Service (laundry)||$1-3 per item; $5-10 for quick turnarounds|
FYI: “Automatic gratuity” charges are standard at many restaurants, but that may change in January 2014. If you don’t see such a charge on your bill, please tip your waitstaff appropriately.
|Bartender||$1-2 per drink; $5 for a round of drinks; 10-20% if paying a tab at the end of the night|
|Coat/Hat Check||$1 per item|
|Home/Hotel Delivery||10-15% of the bill; $2-5 for pizza delivery|
|Host or Maitre d’||Nothing for simple services; $10-20 for special treatment (e.g., finding you a table quickly on a busy night)|
|Take-out||No charge for pick-up; 10% for extra service or special orders|
|Valet||$2-5 when you pick up the car|
|Waitstaff||15-20% pre-tax for sitdown service; 10-20% pre-tax for buffet|
|Baggage Handler/Skycap||$1-2 per bag, depending on size|
|Cab/Limo Driver||10-20% of the fare|
|Flight Attendant||Nothing, although there’s no law against it|
|Shuttle Driver||$1-2 per person|
|Wheelchair Attendant||$5-10 for a ride to the gate; $10-20 if extra services are provided|
While tipping isn’t always mandatory, tips often account for the majority of compensation for many hospitality-industry workers, who shouldn’t have to go above and beyond their duties to merit some appreciation. If you’re not sure whether to tip, try imagining a family member in the service provider’s position. If your loved one performed the exact same service for someone else, should he or she fairly expect to receive a tip? If your answer is “yes,” consider tipping for that service yourself.
To help ensure that you can afford to tip hospitality workers appropriately, check out Travel Plus, which offers members 5% cash back on travel reservations and rebates on travel-service charges. And let us know in “Comments” what your tipping policy is.