Tipping Etiquette: How, When, and Who to Tip When Your Travel

Tipping etiquette

Travel is opening up, and as the world starts to buy flights and board planes to far-flung places, there’s a big question on everyone’s minds.

Tipping.

Although this isn’t a radical new idea for the travel industry, it’s always lurked in the background, causing confusion.

How much to tip?

Who should I tip?

And now, with the world in the mists of a global pandemic, travelers need to figure out HOW to tip when paying by cash isn’t an option.

Hotels, restaurants, tour operators want to minimize contact between people as much as possible. This means many are enforcing no cash policies.

Below, I’m answering all your tipping etiquette questions and how travelers can leave digital tips.

Hint: It’s not an app.

Cardinal Rules for Tipping Etiquette

Here are a few rules for giving gratuities:

  • Tip according to the service: You’d tip more or less depending on the circumstances. E.g. if someone helps you load your bags during a downpour, you’d tip extra.
  • Don’t regard tipping as optional: People who work for tips rely on gratuities to make a living.
  • Don’t tip more than you can afford: If you can only afford to tip 15%, don’t feel like you’re obliged to tip the higher end 20%.

Tipping Etiquette: When You Don’t Know How Much to Tip

tipping etiquette

We’ve all been there.

You’re on the African safari of your dreams, and it’s check-out day. Your bags are packed, and you’re getting ready to go to reception to settle your bill.

The only problem?

You have no idea what to tip the safari guides and staff.

If you don’t know how much you should tip, it’s not rude to ask. In fact, it gives you a better idea of what’s customary.

Remember, there really isn’t a set dollar amount to fit every single situation. 

My rule of thumb is to base the tip on the amount of effort the guide, waiter, hotel staff made during my stay. I like to think of it as a way to show appreciation for their services.

But if you’re traveling to a destination where tipping is not customary and is seen as rude (like China or Japan), don’t force the matter.

Tipping Etiquette: How to Pay a Tip Digitally

As we adapt to the way of the new world (and even before the pandemic), we’re becoming a cashless society.

While this comes with pros and cons, it’s left many travelers wanting to leave tips but unsure how to do so digitally.

Instead of forgoing tipping altogether, look out for cashless tipping options like eTip.

eTip doesn’t require an app. All you need is your smartphone camera.

Scan the QR code, choose your tip, hit the submit button, and you’re done! Your payment is instant, and you don’t need to worry about carrying and handling coins and notes.

Want to learn more about implementing cashless tipping at your business or property? Head to eTip, name drop Ask a Concierge, and you can scoop a $500 discount on your set-up costs.

Tipping Etiquette: Average Tipping Amounts

tipping etiquette

Okay, so while tipping is subjective, I wanted to guide you on what you can expect to tip for different services.

How to Tip at a Hotel

  • Doorman: $2-$5 per service
  • Valet parking: $2-$5 per service
  • Bellmen: $2-$3 per bag or $5-$10 if they show you around your room
  • Room service: Gratuity is usually included on the bill, but you can tip extra 
  • Front desk: If the staff help set up something special for you, don’t forget to tip!
  • Housekeeping: $2-$5 per night or more if the room is particularly messy.
  • Hotel concierge: $5-$10 for normal requests, and if they go above and beyond, tip $10-$20 or more.
  • Driver: 15-20% of the fare and $1-$2 for each bag.
  • Coatroom attendant: $3-$5 per jacket or coat. If you’re checking in extras like hats, umbrellas, or bags, you’ll want to add a bit more to the tip.

How to Tip for Services

If your service has a cost associated with it, like a haircut or dining out, the tip is usually 15%-20% of the bill.

  • Bartenders: $2 per drink or 10%-15% of the total.
  • Baristas: $1 per coffee or $2 if you’ve asked for something complicated like latte art.
  • Take-out deliveries: If someone is bringing it to your hotel, tip 10%-15%. If the weather is bad, bump up the gratuity to 20%. If you’re picking it up at a counter, no tip is necessary.

How to Tip Safari Guides

It’s a good rule of thumb to tip your guide $10 or more and your tracker $5 per person per day.

For example, if you go on one safari for three days, you should each tip your guide $30 and tracker $15 in total at the end of your stay.

More Tips on Tipping Etiquette:

tipping etiquette

  • Always check gratuity hasn’t already been added to your bill. This is important in countries like Italy who add a service charge automatically.
  • Calculate your tip based on the original price if your order has a discount or it’s a buy one get two special.
  • Don’t leave a tip unattended. Give it to the server directly to avoid someone taking the money.
  • If you’ve received above and beyond service, don’t feel shy about tipping more. Remember, tipping is showing appreciation for someone’s service.
  • If you’re traveling to a country that doesn’t accept tips, give your server or the person helping you a sincere “thank you.”

Here’s Who You Don’t Have to Tip:

There are some service professions where you’re not expected to tip.

How do you know which ones can forgo a tip?

If the professional is paid well, it’s unlikely you’re expected to leave a tip.

For example, you can forgo tipping for accounts, financial advisors, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and coaches.

Tipping Etiquette: Conclusion

There you have it. Those are my opinions on how to tip based on my many years of experience working in hospitality. 

Tipping is, after all, part of the hospitality culture within the United States. It’s an interesting topic, and I’m sure you have a few thoughts too! 

Share your tips on tipping in the comment section below.

 

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