Tipping guidelines to consider when traveling in the United States - by Kim Smith
Tipping can be a sensitive topic, since there are many opinions on how to tip and whom to tip. Generally speaking, the following is good advice to any traveler who feels their service was good. You can always tip more for outstanding service, and if you're unhappy with the service provided, don't feel obligated to leave a tip.
Consider 15%, that is if he/she went out of his/her way to get you there directly, safely and comfortably. Watch to be sure that the tip hasn’t been automatically added to your fare before paying.
Tour Guides and Charter Bus Drivers
It is customary to pay the bus driver $5 for a full day tour, and anywhere from $5 to $10 per day for a weeklong trip. Typically, the tour guide, if you have one, gets double the rate paid to the bus driver.
Cruise Ship Personnel
Be sure to check the cruise line’s tipping menu to read their policies, as tips for a cruise ship personnel can add up quite a bit and you should prepare in advance to set a tip fund aside. Some cruise ships have recently changed their policies and now charge your online account automatically for the “suggested” tipping amount for the room valet and food staff. If you are unsure about the cruise line’s policies, be sure to check your account at the purser’s office when you are onboard. Many passengers prefer to give additional cash tips to ship employees whose service is above average.
Valet Parking Attendant
A valet parking attendant retrieves your car whenever you want it – it is appropriate to give them $1 to $5; However, if your car is precious to you and you need it to be handled with care, or parked in a secure area, a bigger tip may be necessary. If you are leaving your car in an area that is known for damage or theft, like New York City, be sure to be investigate the reputation of the company, and their employee’s, before handing over your keys.
Train, Airport, Rental Car and Hotel Porters
$1 per bag, $2 or more if the bag is especially heavy or awkward. If you don’t want to pay for this service by way of gratuity, then perhaps consider using luggage with wheels so you can manage it yourself.
The Hotel Concierge
A hotel concierge can often help to make your stay a memorable experience. He/she may have reserved you a table at a much sought after restaurant for that special occasion, when you couldn’t. The amount you wish to tip that individual will naturally depend on what special services he/she may have delivered to you. You may also wish to tip for each individual service or at the end of your stay. A special tip given upon your arrival may also ensure that the concierge treats you exceptionally well.
A doorman will hail your cab or shelter you from the rain by holding an umbrella over your head as you run for that cab -- $1 may be typical; but, if it’s rained a lot you may wish to show your appreciation by giving a bit more.
$1 to $2 is appropriate, where there is no set charge for checking your coat or baggage. If your items are valuable, ask the attendant about having it checked into a locked room, and ask for a claim ticket as proof that your items have been placed in their care.
It is customary to give $1 to $2 for a small drink order, but if this person has gone out of his/her way to mix you that perfect drink, a bigger tip is not unreasonable. Provide larger tips when the order is for larger groups.
15% is the norm, and 20% where the individual has given you extraordinary service. For larger groups, tips are sometimes added automatically to the bill. Always examine your check to be sure you don’t pay twice.
Waitstaff at a buffet
Since the wait staff isn’t serving your food, but they may be getting drinks and cleaning your table, provide a minimum of a 10% tip, but check your bill to be sure that a service or gratuity charge hasn’t already been included.
A good maid works hard, remaining unseen, while providing a clean room for you and your family. Typically, tips should range from $1 - $5 per night, depending on the size of the room, the number of people, and realistically, how messy the room is left. (Room service tips should not be included here, as the Room Service attendants should be tipped separately upon their arrival).
Food Service Delivery Person
For deliver service, 15% would be construed as appropriate, depending of course on the size of the delivery, the distance and their timing. Base your tip on the size of your order, the distance traveled and the weather conditions during the delivery. If you ordered a loaded party sized pizza delivered 5 miles hot and fresh during rush hour you may consider giving a bit more than for a small pizza delivered from the pizza shop two doors down.
Tips and gratuities can add up, and should be considered when budgeting for your trip. Have a great vacation!