A Handy Guide for Tipping While on Vacation in the US
While a pricey European getaway sounds dreamy, there are tons of more economical summer hotspots in the US that we would gladly use our vacation time to visit. But whether your travel plans involve trekking through one of the gorgeous National Parks or hitting up the country’s best art galleries, there’s one travel necessity that always confuses the heck out of us: tipping. So, in an effort to better understand the tricky etiquette of tipping when you travel, we’ve enlisted the help of Sharon Emerson, rock-star travel agent and owner of Cruise & Tour Planners, to create a definitive list of places you should tip on your stateside vacation — plus the exact amount that’s considered polite for good service.
1. Housekeeping: Whether you’re a messy Mary or a tidy Tammy, it’s always polite to leave a little extra moola for the folks who clean up your hotel room. Emerson advises leaving $1-$2 per night on the bed. Just make sure to leave a note saying it’s for housekeeping so they know you didn’t just leave your spare change behind by accident.
2. Room Service: Even though you’re probably itching to dig into your gourmet grub, don’t forget to tip the hotel staff member who brings up your dinner. Emerson suggests $5 per delivery to make things easy.
3. Bell Service: If you’re going to enlist a staff member’s help to transport your luggage from the car to your hotel room, it’s definitely considered a faux pas if you don’t tip. Although some people claim $1 per bag is plenty, Emerson notes that $5 per delivery will more than cover it. Plus, it means you’re not frantically counting bags to make sure you’ve tipped the right amount.
4. Luggage Storage: Arriving before your check-in time? Don’t worry, most hotels will store your bags free of charge. Just make sure to tip them $1 per bag when you pick them up.
5. Car Parking Valet: Whether you’ve rented a car for your vacation or are driving your own vehicle, the standard amount to tip a car parking valet is $5, according to Emerson.
6. Hotel Restaurants and Bars: If you’ve decided to eat in your hotel’s restaurant and bar instead of venturing outside, be aware that you won’t get a discount on tipping. Emerson advises using a standard 20 percent tip for adequate service.
7. Concierge Service: While there’s no obligation to tip a concierge for simply answering your questions, you should definitely give them a gratuity if they book you hard-to-get tickets or reservations. Emerson suggests $10-$15 depending on how many people they serve and what level of help they provide.
8. Group Tours: Art museums, historical landmarks, thrilling theme parks… there are tons of places that offer super informative group tours for a fee. But even though you may think that the pricey tour price covers your tour guide’s salary, it’s still polite to tip your guides $5 per person for a half day or $10 per person for a full day, Emerson suggests. Plus, if your tour involves a driver, tip them $2 per person for a half day or $5 per person for a full day.
9. Private Tours: If you’re going to splurge on a private tour, be aware that you’re probably going to have to tip them a little more than a public group tour. Emerson suggests upping the gratuity to $10 per person for a half day or $20 per person for a full day; for tour drivers, $5 per person per half day or $10 per person for a full day.
10. Ski and Snowboard Instructor: If you invest in ski or snowboarding lessons in the winter, you should definitely consider tipping your instructor. “Although ski lessons are expensive to the customer, chances are the instructor themselves are only making $10-$15 per hour. If you think of an instructor that has 10 kids in a group all day, they may make as little as $60 for playing instructor, parent, and chef,” says Mike Ma, chief product officer at Snowvation. He suggests 20 percent is a good rule of thumb to spend. “That said, instructors know skiing and snowboarding is expensive, and most instructors are appreciative of anything you give since many skip the tip entirely.”
11. Wine Tasting: Planning on touring a winery during your summer vacay? “If visiting a winery for tastings, it is appropriate to tip the server $5 or $10 unless you purchase wine,” say Pam and Larry Willis of The Gables Wine Country Inn.
12. Take-out: While sitting down at a restaurant will run you at least an extra 20 percent tip, Emily Post’s famous General Tipping Guide advises that there’s no obligation to tip for take-out. Just be aware that you *can* tip an extra 10 percent for curb delivery or for a large, complicated order.
13. Home or Hotel Food Delivery: If you’re planning on getting food delivered straight to your door, it’s a good idea to keep some extra pocket change to tip your delivery driver. Emily Post suggests 10-15 percent of the bill or $2-$5 for pizza delivery, depending on the size of the order and difficulty of delivery.
14. Bartender: The days of stressing about how much to tip your bartender are over, ladies. Emily Post gives it to us straight: $1-$2 per drink or 15-20 percent of the entire tab. Easy!
15. Hair Appointments, Manicures, or Massages: Now that you’ve decided to treat yourself to a special spa day on your US staycation, you’ll probably need to know how much to tip your awesome manicurists and salon staff. Emily Post suggests tipping 15-20 percent of your total bill — and if multiple people serve you, make sure you specifically ask for your tip to be split among everyone who helped you get glam.
Do you have any vacation hotspots to add to our list of tipping musts? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Brit + Co, Getty)