Tipping has become a reality in today's travel, whether you are traveling on "land only" packages, i.e. hotel stays, by motorcoach or cruising. It is an integral part of your trip cost and must be accounted for during the planning stage of budgeting for your holiday vacation.
Sometimes it is the littlest details that confuse us most when we are on vacation. When it comes to tipping, I for one, sometimes scratch my head wondering just how much to give someone for a service provided without offending them with too little, or offending myself by giving too much.
Who should you tip? How much? Do you need to tip at all? Well, have no fear, these few simple guidelines may help you on when and how much to tip while on vacation and at other times.
This way, you will not be bothered by trivialities and can focus instead on more important things, like enjoying your vacation.
Airports and train stations
When arriving at airports and train stations or when leaving from the airport or train station, you can feel comfortable in tipping the standard porter rate of $1 per bag; perhaps more if your luggage is very heavy.
If you request assistance in hailing a taxi, a tip of $1 is appropriate. This includes doormen at your hotel. If more services are requested, such as assistance with your bags, you may want to tip more for these special services.
At the hotel
Hotel tipping can be interesting and confusing with all of the services that are offered or provided outright to you.
When you arrive at your hotel after a long flight, first things first: tip the taxi or limo driver. Ten to 15 percent of your total fare is usually expected; some cities don't take kindly to the 10 percent tip factor even for mediocre service, so read the tea leaves well to avoid an uncomfortable situation and consider taking the high road.
As distasteful as it can sometimes be, a few pennies more paid in a tip to a disgruntled provider may save you an embarrassing situation. If you drive your own car, give the valet parking attendant $1 to $2. If you take a shuttle van or bus, tip the driver $2 per person.
The bellman, who will be more than happy to assist you with your bags at the door, should generally receive $1 to $2 per bag. Tips are appropriate when he shows you to your room and again if he assists you upon checkout. Tip more if he provides any additional service.
The concierge, who can get you anything from dinner reservations to hard-to-come-by theatre tickets, deserves a little more for his or her efforts, generally a $5 to $10 for such feats.
You may certainly choose to be more generous if the feat or service performed was extraordinary. Sometimes it may be appropriate to tip at the time of service, but sometimes it also may be appropriate and convenient to do so at the end of the trip.
When requesting room service, add 15 percent of the bill, but pay careful attention to the bill to make certain that a gratuity (often more than 15 percent) is not already factored into the price. If such a gratuity is already included, you may, as a token gesture, add $1 or $2 to the bill; however, this is not required.
If you requested something delivered to your room, such as a hairdryer or iron, tip $1 per item received.
Typically, the maid deserves a $1-$2 tip each day, as well. Finally, if you are a frequent visitor to a specific location or activity, a $20 tip added to your bill may serve to ensure good service on future visits and throughout your stay.
On a tour, if a tip is not automatically included, you may be comfortable in tipping the tour guide $1 for a half-day tour, $2 for full-day tour and anywhere from $5-$10 for a weeklong tour. On a private tour, you should consider tipping a private guide more and consider all of the little things that were provided or offered that made your tour more enjoyable or informative.
On many cruise lines tips can be pre-paid according to a fixed schedule of tipping designed by the cruise line. If this option is not chosen, when on a cruise, tip according to your comfort level and only on the last evening of your cruise.
As a general rule, dining room waiters receive $3.50 per person/per day, whereas the dining room busboy should receive $2 per person/per day. The room steward, for all his efforts, receives $3.50 per person/per day. Other personnel, such as bar waiters, bellboys and deck stewards may be tipped as service is rendered.
Generally, excellent service will be rewarded by a generous tip that ranges around 20 percent of the total bill.
However, most restaurants in the United States accept 15 percent as the standard tip. Unfortunately, this level tip is expected even when less than the expected level and quality of service is provided.
In restaurants where you sit at the bar, or where the waiter plays a small part of the meal service experience (cafes or pubs), 10 percent is acceptable. The bartenders, themselves, generally receive between 15 and 20 percent when you sit at the bar.
If the food or service is unsatisfactory, speak to the manager. Don't walk out without tipping. Also, pay attention to lunch and dinner bills at home and when traveling abroad, as some restaurants tack on an additional 15 percent (usually listed on the menu or check as a "service charge") and do not expect tips.
Ever wonder just how much the suave gentleman slipped into the hand of the maitre d' for finding that last open table?
Well, at fancy restaurants, a tip between $5 and $10 is in line with generally acceptable standards, certainly more when the restaurant is full and you have no reservations. Tip $1 for each coat checked, and another 50 cents to $1 for restroom attendants.
As for wine service that you have requested, opt for 10 percent of the wine bill and you should be spared from any raised eyebrows from an unhappy wine steward.
Tipping has become a universal activity and is generally expected by service providers for each amenity or service they render. There are times when the idea of rewarding someone for poor service simply because it is expected can rub us the wrong way, and it should.
However, when such a situation arises, it is best to leave a moderate tip and politely inform the establishment's owner or manager of the situation that warranted the less-than-abundant reward left at your table. You will actually be helping the business maintain its reputation for quality by so doing.
I hope that these "tips" for tipping, will give you a general idea of the standard tipping rate for different stops along your journey. Armed with these "tips" you should be well prepared to accurately and fairly reward those who serve you along your route.
Of course, you are always welcome to tip more when the service is excellent, and when you do, you are sure to see the red carpet treatment all the way, giving you the satisfaction of a "tip" well spent and will contribute towards your happy travels.