Tag Archives: tipping etiquette

How Much to Tip when I travel?

Fran's tipping guide for the holidays

Tipping guidelines for keeping up with etiquette while traveling.

There are general travel tipping guidelines, but during the holidays it’s even more important to remember to thank those with whom you interact and accept their services. Check out my videos on the subject of tipping: one on general tipping etiquette and another on tipping for travel.

When you’re traveling it all starts right at the airport with the skycap. Think of tipping $1-2 per bag for curbside check-in unless they are doing additional work for you – maybe you need extra assistance from curbside to the desk for a special request. In those cases, then a flat $20 for an “all in” tip is appropriate.

For tipping for hotel maids and housekeeping, typically the tip should be $3 to 5 per night of your stay. It varies due to the hotel I’m staying in or how much mess I’ve made.  If you have several people in one room (think kids, etc) then it would be closer to $5/night.  At the end of your visit, place the tips in an envelope clearly marked ‘housekeeping’ and give it to the front desk. They’ll make sure that it is divided among the members of the staff who actually ‘touched’ your room during your entire visit.

The porter or bellman that delivers your luggage to your room deserves something too. Typically, this is $1 to $2 per bag; but add a bit more if the bags are heavy or awkward. And don’t forget to tip when the porter comes to retrieve your bags at the end of your stay.

Think about the person who delivers that extra pillow, gets you more hangers for your closet, or produces the toothbrush you forgot. The tip should be $1-2 for each time someone brings something to your room.

If you’ve ordered room service – read the check. If there is a tip included it will be a separate line item listed as ‘Gratuity Added.’  If it says, ‘convenience fee’ or ‘service charge,’ these charges do not go to the server. So, if you don’t see ‘gratuity added’ then add a tip of about 15% to 20%.

I tip taxi drivers all the time as well as Uber/Lyft drivers. That tip should be $1 to $5 depending on the distance and service received.

There are many instances where you’ll want to calculate the tip based on a percentage of the bill. This tip percentage varies depending on the service and even the state. For instance, in New York City at higher end restaurants a 25% tip is often expected. In Colorado, the usual tip would be 20%. Many people tip on the ‘pre-tax’ amount of the check but others find it easier just to calculate it on the total. Either method is acceptable. But, if the service has been bad then do not fret about dropping the tip to 10%. A low tip sends a sharp message to the server. If the service is particularly bad, make sure you speak to the manager before you leave.

Remember the bartender whenever you sit at the bar, even if you’ve just ordered a pre-dinner drink while waiting for your table.  A minimum tip of $1 to 2 per drink is appropriate – especially if it’s a fancy mixed cocktail!

In Europe and other non-tipping countries, the ‘tip’ is already built into the price of the food or service. In Asia – like Japan – don’t bother tipping. They won’t accept it.  Check the internet for the tipping guidelines for the countries you will be visiting.

Back in the U.S.A., tips are often the major source of income for wait staff and other service providers.  In some states the minimum wage for ‘tipped employees’ is very low – employers anticipate that the tipped income will make up the difference. However, always check your bill before tipping as some restaurants have started adding an automatic gratuity to the bill.

Be a good traveler and have fun!

A Handy Tipping Guide for the Holidays

Handy tipping guide

The easy “how-to” for tipping during the holidays.

We all have service people that help us throughout the year, but sometimes it’s confusing on how much to tip or even whether you should tip at all during the holidays. I’ve been in the restaurant business for more than twenty years, and sometimes it’s a little confusing even for me! Tipping is easy enough in a restaurant – not so easy in other settings.

I have a simple guideline for who to tip during the holidays. It comes from my uncle who said, “At the end of the year, think of the people who have helped you. If you’ve been helped, it never hurts to tip.”

So, I think about the places where I’m a ‘regular’ – at least once a month, weekly, or semi-weekly. I also especially think of businesses that know me well, and where I’m always satisfied. For instance, the hairdresser, barber, or manicurist. Maybe the dog walker or the groomer.

As for how much should you tip, that depends on the price you typically pay for one visit. If a typical visit is $50, then your tip should be $50. If you’re only an occasional client, then the holiday tip can range from $10 to $25.

For the person who babysits for you, the tipping guide could be one day’s earnings. If you have a full-time nanny, then consider giving out a holiday gift or ‘bonus’ that’s equivalent of one or two weeks of salary – depending on how long they have worked for you.  Remember the person who comes to clean your home – the tip amount could be equal what they receive for a day’s wages.

I don’t forget individual cases like the mail carrier. Even if you live in a high rise and don’t know them at all – it’s important to remember them. You’re at their mercy when it comes to getting your mail that might not have your apartment number on it.  Federal law prohibits a USPS worker from receiving anything higher than $20, so make your tip anywhere from $5 to $20. I think this rule applies to other anonymous delivery people (consider newspaper and laundry).

Speaking of apartment and condo living – I also think of the staff who are there for me 24/7/365. How much to tip each person varies significantly depending on if you rely on that person daily or perhaps rarely ever see them. Gratuity can be anywhere from $50 to $200 per person depending on their job and how much you actually interact with them during the year.

Proper tipping etiquette says that when you tip with cash, give it directly to the person whom it is intended. However, giving cash is not always the right thing to do for everyone.  If you are tipping professionals like physicians or teachers and day-care providers, then a thoughtful gift or gift certificate is the appropriate tip for their service.

Unless you want to go completely anonymous, think of putting the tip (cash or gift card) in a personal card that’s addressed to the recipient. I use a seasonal greeting card, but some folks like to use a nice thank you card. The card accomplishes two things: first it puts a face to the tip; and second, it lets the person know why they’re appreciated.

Don’t forget –tipping is a ‘thank you’ for everything people have done for you during the entire year. It’s an indispensable part of what sophisticated living is all about.