Going on a vacation takes a great deal of time and preparation and while you factor airfare, hotels and food into your vacation budget, “tips” for service providers are often overlooked. Tipping is very confusing and can be quite costly if you end up over tipping because you are unfamiliar with basic tipping guidelines. Some commonly asked questions about who and how to tip when traveling include:
Who gets a tip at the airport?
If you use a skycap it would be appropriate to give him $1 per bag.
If you are in need of a wheelchair or special assistance, the attendant should receive anywhere from $3 to $5 for a short ride from gate to gate, to a more substantial tip for more specialized services such as carting bags and locating relatives.
No, airport security DOES NOT get a tip! (Yes, I have been asked that question many times)
What about rental car agents?
The agent does not get a tip but the shuttle driver does. Depending on how much luggage they assist you with, $1 to $2 per bag.
Do I tip the valet when I arrive at the hotel and again when I leave to go shopping and site seeing?
Unless the valet provided a service such as assisting with luggage, the valet is tipped when they “deliver your car” (departing the hotel for the moment or the day or at check out). In other words, if you plan to arrive and depart your hotel multiple times throughout the day, consider self-parking in the designated self-parking area of the hotel, to eliminate multiple tips for quick visits back to the hotel between excursions.
Do I tip the guy that takes my luggage out of my car and hands it off to bellman?
Yes, if he provides a service, he gets a tip. Obviously if he does nothing but take the luggage out of the trunk, put it on the luggage cart, and pass you on to the bellman he will get a smaller tip.
What is a standard tip for a bellman?
The bellman should receive $1 to $2 per bag, depending on how many bags you have and how much they weigh. The tip also depends on what extra services he provides such as getting you ice or retrieving extra towels and soap. If you are trying to cut costs, pack light and invest in luggage with wheels so you can wheel your own luggage to your room.
Am I required to leave a tip for housekeeping? How often?
It is the right thing to do and a nice gesture to leave a tip for the housekeeping staff. The housekeepers often change shifts so it is best to leave the tip daily. Bring extra white envelopes, write “Housekeeping” on the outside, and place the envelope on the pillow or someplace you are sure they will see it.
How much do I tip for room service?
The service provider should receive 15 percent of the bill and more for special assistance.
How much do I tip the Concierge?
For picking up the phone and making a 30-second phone call for an easy dinner reservation, a genuine “Thank you” will suffice. For time spent discussing restaurant options and making your reservation, $5. Securing hard to get tickets to the theatre or having a last minute floral arrangement sent to your hotel for your anniversary deserves $20 and upwards.
Is a tip necessary in a hotel spa?
Absolutely. Spa attendants rely on tips as well and you can factor 15 to 20 percent of the service. Check to make sure that gratuity is not already included on the bill. If the attendant did a fantastic job, you can leave a small additional tip on top of the gratuity to show your appreciation.
What about the maintenance guy that comes in to fix a light or the toilet?
You do not have to tip the maintenance man unless he spends an inordinate amount of time providing a service that is not part of his “job”. This may include helping to set up your computer when he was just called to check the computer cable.
Here are a few more tipping basics:
Doorman: $1 if he gets a taxi, $2 if he covers your head and body with an umbrella (How much is it worth to you to arrive at your destination looking good?)
15 to 20 percent of the bar tab, minimum of 50 cents for a soda and $1 per alcoholic drink
Hairdresser at the hotel:
15 to 20 percent of bill
10 to 20 percent
15 to 20 percent – consider tipping on the upper end if extra effort is made, including rushing you to your last minute meeting
No Tipping Policies
Some of the finer hotels and resorts have a no-tipping policy. In this situation, tips are strictly forbidden. Although this may sound like good news, please, rest assured that the price you pay will more than make up for your “tipping freedom”.
A vacation always goes much smoother when the small details have been taken care of so make sure to bring plenty of small bills for tips and change for parking meters. This will help insure that all of your service providers will greet you with a warm smile as they attend to your needs. Happy travels!
Watch my Tipping Etiquette segment on WOAI San Antonio Living for more tipping information.
Photo provided by Lars Andreas http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2254553