Savvy Travel Decisions

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The practice of tipping or rendering a gratuity for services rendered is a travel necessity that many travelers wrestle with and find highly subjective.  The word “tip” is old, dating back to the 1700’s.  Tipping, as originally construed was meant as a gesture of appreciation and a reward for exceptional service.  In many instances, tips are the main source of income for the service provider.  In theory, since the service provider is dependent on gratuities, he or she should be motivated to provide superior service, thus pleasing the customer and hopefully being handsomely remunerated as a result thereof.


Unfortunately, some service providers expect a gratuity whether merited or not.


Both poor tippers and overly generous tippers contribute to unreasonable expectations.  Some cultures consider the practice of tipping to be insulting; others include in as a percentage of the service rendered.  Tipping should never be “automatic” nor guaranteed - gratuities should be earned.


If your travel itinerary includes locales where tipping is customary, be sure to budget the cost of gratuities as part of your overall travel budget.


Savvy Travel Decisions, Inc. has listed commonly practiced tipping percentages for several locales.  In most instances, tipping is discretionary and of a personal nature.  The stated percentages should be considered only as a guide.


The determination of the extent of generosity on how much one tips should be directly reflective of the quality of the service rendered.  Unfortunately, tips do not always relate to services rendered.  Obviously, if you’re staying at a Five Star hotel or resort versus the Twitching Eye Motel, your tips should be adjusted accordingly.  If someone renders you special or extraordinary service, they too should merit special consideration.  Most tourist oriented personnel are heavily dependent on gratuities for their livelihood.  A nice tip early-on in your stay to the Doorman, Maid, dining room waiter, and they will remember your name and treat you like royalty for the remainder of your stay.


As a rule of thumb, basic gratuities (adjust for special circumstances): listed in likely order of happening: (United States of America).


Taxi: 10% - 15% of fare

Airport Shuttle Service Driver: $2.00 - $3.00 if fee charged.  $5.00, if free hotel courtesy van

Limo: gratuity automatically added to bill?  If so, hand $10.00 cash to driver.

Airport: curbside check-in: $1.00 - $2.00 per bag.  Yes, the Airline assesses a check-in fee, but little sees the porter’s wallet, and instead goes into the airline’s bank.

Hotel Doorman (if unpacks the taxi trunk or your automobile trunk): $10.00.

Hotel Baggage person: $2.00 - $5.00 per piece of luggage both on check-in and check-out

Restaurant Waiter: 15% - 18%, 20% - 25% in gourmet dining rooms.  Always check to see whether a gratuity has already been added to your total bill - common in Europe and many other nations.  For dining parties of six or more, many restaurants add an automatic gratuity.  Most wait staff’s income is dependent on gratuities. 

In Canada tipping is less prevelant, 15% is a customary tip. 

Wine Steward: 15% of wine bill

Hotel Room Service: Gratuity automatically added to bill?  If not, $7.00 - $10.00 or 20% of bill, whichever is higher.

Cocktail Waitress: $1.00 - $2.00 per round of drinks for a party of two.

Resort Concierge: $5.00 - $25.00 or more depending on extent of services requested (show or dining reservations, sightseeing tours).

Valet Parking: $3.00 - $5.00 each time automobile is delivered.  Tip $1.00 - $2.00 and plan on waiting the next time you request you car!

Hotel Doorman (if he summons taxi for you): $2.00 - $5.00

Maid: $1.00 - $3.00 per night or more; tip the first day (leave a note with gratuity on the desk area of your room).  Bet your room will be spick and spam, and you’ll always have clean towels!

Hotel Babysitter: 15%

Hair-stylist: 10% - 20%

Manicurist: 10% - 15%

Spa attendant, masseur, masseuses: 10% - 15%

Tennis or Golf Instructor at Resort: 15% of lesson cost

Swimming ool attendant: $2.00

Tour Guide/Tour Director on escorted vacation: $3.00 - $5.00 per person per day

Restroom Attendant: $2.00 


Hotels in Asia often send Greeters (not chauffer) to meet you at the airport: $2.00. 


Tipping in Japan has always been non-traditional, bordering on insult.  Gratuities are built into the cost of services.  Alas, even this is changing.  In Egypt, employees develop acute arthritis greedily reaching out for a tip-good luck if you don’t. is a helpful resource.