Now You Know! The Ultimate Tipping Guide For U.S. Travel

Know the protocol before you find yourself awkwardly fumbling in the presence of helpful staff.

You check into your hotel and the kind bellhop brings your bags up to your room and lingers a bit as he starts to leave. You rummage through your bag, pushing aside that crumpled boarding pass, searching for your wallet. You're fumbling, but you're also trying to buy some time while you run mental calculations about what's appropriate to tip. You always seem to forget... or maybe you never even knew.

Well, consider yourself schooled: From bellmen to housekeeping staff to tour guides, here's what you need to know about tipping.

Housekeeping staff

You’ve double-checked your flight is on time, and triple-checked you didn’t leave anything in the bathroom, but you still feel like you’re forgetting something? It’s probably leaving some cash for the hotel housekeepers. Travel agent Greg Antonelle says you should tip on a daily basis since often housekeepers rotate, and that way you can make sure your cash is going to the right person. You can leave about a dollar per guest in the room per day, or round it off to about $5 per day per room for typical stays.

Skycap

There’s no greater relief than when you’re traveling with way too many bags for you and your traveling companion (or ahem, just you) and the friendly Skycap is there to assist you. Antonelle says to give this helper $1 to $2 per bag, depending on how generous you’re feeling and how carefully you want them to handle your cargo. “Every time I’ve tipped a skycap, I get the biggest smile in return. It’s a nice gesture on our part, and I feel a bit more secure in thinking they will take good care of my luggage,” Antonelle says. Thrillist also noted that if they're waiting curbside for you, the rule is $5 per bag and $3 to $5 for each additional bag after that.

Airport shuttle driver

Here’s where it can get a little murky in forking over some dollars: Antonelle advises that if your shuttle driver helps you with your luggage, it’s appropriate to give $1 to $2 per bag, just like you would the Skycap. But if they stayed put while you wrestled with it, he says it’s fine to tip at your discretion.

Concierge

Depending on the purpose of your travel, you may or may not use the services of the concierge. If they booked you several restaurant reservations, your taxi back to the airport and made recommendations that really improved the quality of your trip, Antonelle says $40 is appropriate for a five to seven day trip. Just the weekend? $5 to $25 is fine. Don’t be offended if they don’t accept your cash though — Antonelle says some hotel chains don’t allow them.

Bellhop

A good rule of thumb to remember? For every bag they hauled up the elevator, give your bellhop a dollar. And if that bag was jam-packed, or oddly shaped, throw in an extra $1 for the hassle, Antonelle advises. According to Thrillist, the same goes if they're being forced (by hotel policy) to carry something you could carry yourself (such as a small purse or bag): Throw in some extra dollars to acknowledge the effort.

Pool staff

Did they search high-and-low for a chair for you, even though it appeared like none were available? Or did they fish your sunglasses out of the pool for you because you didn’t want to get wet? Antonelle says only when the pool staff goes above and beyond is it necessary to hand them up to $5. The exception to the rule is when a pool staff does double duty as a wait staff; then the 15 to 20 percent tipping recommendation applies.

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Spa staff

Sometimes at the end of a long vacation, when you’re just about as zen as you thought you could be, that extra full-body rub down at the end really seals the deal. Tip 20 percent of the total price, Antonelle says. He also adds that it’s a good idea to cross-reference the fine print, just in case tip is already included.

Someone who hails a taxi for you

While you should tip the taxi driver who gets you from point A to point B in a swift (ahem, sometimes, too swift!) manner around 15 to 20 percent, Antonelle says it’s not required to tip the person who hailed you the cab. That being said: If it’s pouring rain, you’re late to an important job interview or about to miss your flight, it doesn’t hurt to hand them a dollar. Another note on ground transportation: If you hire a limo or a car service, check to see if gratuity is included. Thrillist suggests adding in that 15 to 20 percent for them, too.

Tour or excursion guide

Again, the amount you tip here depends on the quality of the service you received. “If someone is exemplary and provided a memorable experience you’ll remember for years, I am thrilled to provide a bigger tip. But, if someone else just does a minimal amount of commentary or explanation, I would give a lesser tip. It’s all about the experience and service you receive,” he says.

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