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How to Tip When You're Traveling in the U.S.

Dollars and Coins Change, Receipt in Change Dish, How to Tip When You're Traveling in the U.S.

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Whom do you have to tip when you travel and how much?

Traveling is supposed to be relaxing, but many feel their chest tighten when they encounter multiple tipping opportunities: cab drivers, bellhops, doormen.

Do you tip them all?

Do you tip them all the same amount?

How do you know?

To help Americans better understand appropriate gratuities, Angie's List, a consumer website for rating service professionals, surveyed members and service professionals to get their take on tipping protocols in the United States. The tippee's unsurprising consensus: When in doubt, tip big!

Hotel Tipping

  • Bellhop: $1 to $2 per bag
  • Car valets: $1 to $3. You can tip when you drop off the car if you like, but definitely tip at pickup.
  • Room service: 10 percent is acceptable, 15 percent to 20 percent for a large or difficult order.
  • Housekeeping: $2 to $3 per night; $5 if you have more than three people in a room/suite. Leave the money in an envelope with "Thank You" on it, so they know the money is for them.
  • Concierge: Nothing. But if you have something brought to your room, such as a sewing kit or extra toothbrush, a $2 to $3 tip is appropriate.
  • Cabana attendant: 15 percent to 20 percent of your total bill
  • Tanning attendant: $5 to $10 per lotion application
  • Doorman: $1 for help with each bag, $1 for hailing a cab

Transportation Tipping

  • Cab driver: 15 percent to 20 percent tip of the fare. (Find out ahead of time if your cabbie accepts a credit card. If he or she doesn't, make sure you have enough cash for both fare and tip.)
  • Airport Red Cap/Baggage personnel: $1 to $2 per bag  
  • Wheelchair attendants: This really depends on the level of service. If the attendant is transporting the passenger from the check-in to the gate, $5 to $10 is the standard, especially if the attendant assists in helping the passenger from a car. If the attendant is also wrangling bags and with the passenger for a longer period of time, a $10 to $20 tip is appropriate, depending on the number of bags.
  • Airport transportation attendants: If the driver helps you with your bags, offer $1 per bag.

Restaurant Tipping

  • Servers: 15 percent to 20 percent of your total bill after tax. Most servers make less than $3 an hour, so tips are really their salary. 
  • Bartenders: $1 per drink. If you're waiting for a table, it's also polite to close your tab at the bar and then start fresh with your server for your meal.
  • If you order food at the bar: Same as if you were seated — 15 percent to 20 percent.  
  • If you use a discount coupon for your meal: Tip your server on what the bill would have been before the discount. A little extra for discounted "happy hour" drinks is also appreciated.
  • Host/hostess/busboy: Nothing. Generally, they receive a cut of the waiters' tips each night. 
  • Coat check: $1 per coat. Pay when you retrieve your belongings.
  • Bathroom attendant: Nothing, unless your attendant gives you a safety pin for that broken strap or a piece of gum for your garlic breath. Then, tip generously.

Personal Care Tipping

Salons and spas can be among the most confusing places to determine who to tip. A good rule of thumb is to tip each person based on the cost of the individual service, not your total bill.

  • Hair stylist: 15 percent to 20 percent. If the stylist is the owner, traditionally you do not tip him or her. The Emily Post Institute says this is changing, however. If in doubt, ask the receptionist.
  • Colorist: 15 percent to 20 percent
  • Hair washer: $1 to $2
  • Manicure/pedicurist: 10 percent to 15 percent
  • Massage therapist: 15 percent to 20 percent

Also of Interest

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