How Much Should You Tip?

Did you know that “tip” is an acronym? Do you know what “tip” stands for?  Tip stands for “to insure promptness.”   Today, “tip” has become synonymous with gratuity and is widely expected among those working all types of service industries – no matter how prompt or good/bad their service was.

So how much should you tip when you travel? recently wrote an article about how much they think travelers should be tipping.   Personally, I think tipping is an individual thing and you should do what you’re comfortable with and can afford.  I also think that where you are in the world should determine how much you tip.  Some cultures don’t expect tips. Some people are offended by tipping. It’s always best to research in advance, ask people who have already been to a destination or ask someone at the hotel (like a manager who doesn’t expect to be tipped) what is customary. It’s also worth noting that in countries where tipping isn’t expected, staff at many brand name western style hotels may expect tips.

I decided to compare my tipping habits to the list RealSimple came up with.

RealSimple List: 

  • $1 to $3 if he brings your bag to the front desk or flags down a cab for you. Up it to $5 if he hails a taxi for you in the rain.
  • $1 to $5 per bag delivered to your room.
  • $2 to $5 a day for chain hotels and B & Bs. For luxury resorts, where rooms require more upkeep, tip $5 to $20 a day.
  • 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the meal. If a service charge appears on your tab, the gratuity is included.
  • $5 to $50, depending on whether the service was minor (booking you a restaurant reservation) or major (scoring hard-to-get tickets).
  • $2 to $5. Tip when you pick up the car, not when you drop it off. But if you just got a new set of wheels, you may want to hand the first valet a few bucks, too.
  • $1 to $2 per delivery for items that don’t come with the room, such as a razor or a tube of toothpaste.
  • 10 to 20 percent of the treatment cost. Leave the tip with the receptionist.
  • Zero. There’s no need to pay someone who fixes things (the TV, the AC) that were supposed to work already.
  • $2 to $3.

VeryGoodPoints List:

  • $1 to $3 if he brings your bag to the front desk. I would tip $2 if  flags down a cab for you. Nothing extra for the rain – the hotel should have umbrellas and ponchos for the rain.
  •  delivered to your room and tip $1 extra if a bag is extremely heavy or awkward size and requires special handling.
  • I agree with RS with one addition. If no service charge is included in the bill, I tip 10-15%. I don’t think room service delivery requires as much as traditional dining does because they’re bringing you a tray one time. They don’t have to get refills, they don’t have to check back with you, and so forth.  Therefore, 10-15%.  However, when I am in a country where 10-15% is less than $1 USD, I will always round up to at least $1 (usually $2).
  • Totally agree with RS here. I don’t tip anything for room repairs.

So, how do you determine what tips to leave?

6 Comments on "How Much Should You Tip?"

  1. Why not tip a housekeeper? How well they attend to detail has a much greater impact on your stay than just about any other hotel employee, and most of them probably aren’t all that well paid. Also, they keep secrets. I always tip them, at least $3 a day and $5 or more if we have our kids with us and/or we ask for something such as extra towels, etc. The only time I wouldn’t is if I don’t have any cash on me, and then I feel guilty about it.

    If you are in Las Vegas and have someone help you with luggage to your room, you are expected to tip twice: once for the person who takes your luggage from the car/taxi and brings it into storage, and then when you get to your room they want you to call downstairs for another person to bring it to you. Personally I think this is a racket and try to carry my own luggage whenever possible, at least when checking into a hotel. When checking out, the same person takes it from your room and brings it to the car.

  2. I generally agree with Stacey, with a slight difference for those who handle bags. My rule of thumb for bell staff and drivers (taxi, shuttle) is: $1 per bag for the first two bags, plus $.50 for each additional bag. Add for oddly shaped or especially heavy bags (golf clubs, skis, etc). If I’m traveling light and handling my own bags (carry-on plus backpack) then nothing.

    Here’s a question: When traveling with a group, does it make a difference if others in the party massively over tip? For example, I just got back from a trip with 15 people in the group to a destination resort. The resort’s “suggested” tipping guidelines were 10% of the total cost, to include housekeeping, cooking and buffet staff, and grounds keeping (really? I’m supposed to tip the people who water the plants?). Some folks tipped 20-25%.

  3. Normally I don’t tip housekeeping. However, on a recent trip to Hawaii there was a “tip envelope” in the room. Being in a good mood, I threw $5 in there after the first night of a 6 night stay. After the room was made up I found extra towels, extra bathrobes and toiletries, etc. Later that morning I ran into the housekeeper servicing our floor and she was very appreciative of the tip and said to make sure to ask if we needed anything. Over the course of our stay room was always made up right after we left for breakfast and our our last day she cut us some slack and let us stay a bit longer even after our designated check out time. Bottom line, I guess I might be more inclined to tip housekeeping early on during a multi-day stay in the hope of getting better service for the rest of my stay.

  4. @Scott, that’s a really great question! When you’re with a group, tipping can become more complicated. Especially if you take turns tipping and one person is less generous than others.

    I would not tip grounds keepers. That’s a bit overboard.

  5. @Botoom-Feeding the High Life Doug – In many major hotel chains housekeepers are given nice bonuses for the number of rooms they clean and how quickly they do it. I interviewed the director of housekeeping for one of the largest Marriott’s in the world last year and she told me that housekeepers in large, name-brand hotels can make good money from bonuses. I guess since I only stay in major chains, I tend not to tip based on her comment.

    I would probably feel different about a small boutique or B&B.

    And yes, Vegas is a racket!

  6. The one thing I hate about bellhops is when they rush over and grab your bags without asking if you want help. We travel light with carry on backpacks and def don’t need help with them. I wish hotels would train their staff to ask people if they want assistance, THEN give the assistance if the person says yes. I once had a bellhop follow us in the lift (we were wearing our backpacks), RUN ahead of us and opened the door with his master key and hang around flicking light switches hoping for a tip. He didn’t get one.

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