The How-To’s of Tipping while Traveling #Travel


Tipping is customary in many parts of the world, however even frequent travelers can sometimes question when it is appropriate to tip and how much is appropriate. If you’re on the road or planning a trip taking gratuities into consideration is a must. The following advice is for traveling in the United States. For trips overseas the tipping situation could be very different.

Hotels and Accommodations

In most instances it is appropriate to tip the bellman or whoever brings your bags to your room. If you are using a hotel shuttle a small tip (at least $2 per bag) is appropriate for putting in and taking out each piece of luggage. If you are staying in a hotel for multiple days, leave a note and gratuity for the cleaning staff as they often change daily. In regular hotels, $2 per person per day is sufficient while luxury hotels $5 per person, per day is more appropriate. If you have the hotel concierge arrange tickets or other reservations for you a $5-$10 tip is in line.


The rule of thumb typically is that a 15% gratuity is added to the bill for wait service. Before you add a tip, be sure to check the receipt carefully. If you have a large party the gratuity may already be added to the total bill and anything else you give will be additional. In some restaurants a 15% gratuity is automatically added to all bills. Checking the receipt carefully before paying lets you make sure that you are giving the amount you want. You should ignore sales tax when figuring the gratuity. If you were given a discount or anything for free, your tip should reflect what the total would have been had all of the items you ordered been charged. It is also helpful to keep in mind that most restaurant servers are paid less than $3 an hour by their employer and tips make up the gross percentage of their income.

Of course, if you don’t receive good service you shouldn’t feel obligated to leave a tip. However, if the issues you faced were out of the hands of the server; for example you had to wait longer for a table, your food wasn’t cooked correctly, or the people around you were rude, you shouldn’t take out your displeasure on them by leaving a lesser tip.

Other services

Tipping drivers such as a taxi cab or limo service is recommended. Typically 10% of the total is appropriate. Spa services or personal care while on the road, 10-15% of the total is expected. If you take a tour or attend an attraction a 15-20% tip is good to budget depending on the type of service and time spent with you. If you’re taking a cruise there are many places where tipping is expected. Many lines now offer an all in one gratuity added on to your total bill. A set amount is charged per person, per day and is then spread to all staff. You have the discretion to adjust the amount up or down prior to billing.

These guidelines are typical in the United States but can vary across states and regions. If you are traveling out of the country the tipping culture may vary drastically. For example in most European countries tipping for taxi service or even table service is a very small amount, if anything. Before you go take time to learn what is and isn’t expected.

Do you have anything to add? 


  1. I'm so bad at this, I always get confused and never know how much appropriate, thanks for the tips!

  2. I am a great tipper. I've walked in the shoes of people who work in customer service and know how difficult dealing with the public can be Also, it's good to note that if something does go wrong, it most likely isn't any fault of the service person you are dealing with.
    My recent post Disney Sleeping Beauty: The Diamond Edition

  3. Tip in the currency of the country you're visiting. Nothing irked my more was getting tipped in US dollars from US visitors visiting Canada!
    My recent post New from Bugaboo: The Bugaboo Runner arriving Spring of '15

  4. MapleMouseMama says

    Thanks for the great guide Kim! Tipping always is stressful for me. I don't want to under tip, but at the same time I hate when a restaurant automatically adds it on the bill. It doesn't give much incentive to work hard.
    My recent post Enter To #Win An iPad Mini 16GB & Case!!

  5. Great post! My friends and I were just talking about this on the weekend! No one was sure about tipping etiquette.

  6. Great post!! I worked in the restaurant business and I hate it when people don't tip their servers! I get you don't want to pay for a bad job, but make sure it was the servers fault, not the kitchen, bar etc. Most times your server is doing the best they can!

  7. Anna Johnson says

    Tipping is different everywhere and with different services, I am always at a loss. It gets to the point where you don't look forward to going anywhere as you may get it wrong and you go broke factoring so many tips you hadn't thought of.

  8. Great post! I have always wondered how to tip. It's something I struggle with. I am afraid I tip to little.

  9. Tipping when you get great service is a pleasure – it's when you get poor service that tipping becomes a challenge.

  10. Try this app: Fancy Tips – Tipping Calculator & Advisor.

    Unfortunately, this application is available on iTunes only, but it’s for free. The app includes tipping recommendations for more than 200 countries.

    Fo USA they recommend:

    Tipping is a widely practiced social custom in the United States. Standards vary, but generally, gratuities are given as a reward for services rendered in the restaurant, bar, hotel, and taxi industries. The amount of a tip is at the discretion of the person receiving the service.

    If the restaurant has waiters who come to your table, the standard tip is a minimum of 15% of your total bill (post-tax), with the typical tip being between 18% – 20%. Anything less than 15% is considered bad manners and an insult to the waiter.

    Why tip off the post-tax total and not the pre-tax total? Waiters are required to ‘tip-out’ on their total sales, including taxes. Waiters give a percentage of their tips (or ‘tip-out’) to bussers, hostesses and kitchen staff. This percentage is set by the restaurant. If you tip on the pre-tax total, the waiter still has to tip-out on the post-tax total.

    If you are dining in a party of 5 or more, many restaurants will automatically add an 18% – 20% gratuity onto the bill.

    If the restaurant or café does not have table service, there may be a tip jar on the counter near the register. Tips in this case are optional but still recommended. This is common at coffee shops and some less-formal restaurants. If your order is under $10, drop some coins in the jar. If it is over $10, it is polite to tip around 10%.

    For bars: It is customary to tip 15% – 20% of the total bar bill or $1 per alcoholic drink and $.50 per soft drink. If you have a drink or two in a restaurant bar before sitting down at a table, it is best to settle your bar bill before being seated. Remember bartenders, like waiters, only make about $2.13 an hour and are dependent on tips.

    If you order a meal in, pizza delivery, etc., the 15% – 20% gratuity is appropriate.

    In the USA is customary to tip your taxi driver between 10% and 15%. If your driver assists you with luggage or heavy bags, tip an extra $1 per bag. If your taxi driver goes out of their way to be helpful (giving you directions, local tips, etc.) it is not unusual to tip up to 20% of the fare to show you appreciate their kindness.

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