We all know how much to tip at a restaurant. Or, we did until a pandemic arrived. The service industry was dramatically impacted. Tipped workers saw their earnings plummet and they have taken the brunt of customer anger and frustration. So, in 2021 when you are wondering how much gratuity to tip, err on the side of generosity. Here’s TravelingMom’s crowdsourced advice on post-pandemic tipping on vacation etiquette.
Do you know who and how much to tip while on a family vacation? I didn’t realize, until a few years ago when I went to work for a resort hotel, that I should be tipping housekeeping as a thank you for keeping our hotel room clean. Oooh, faux pas! Since then I’ve consulted a few sources to come up with a comprehensive vacation tipping guide when vacationing in the United States.
If in doubt, always go with 15-20% of the total bill. In a post-pandemic year, or for excellent service, always go with a higher tip amount. From housekeeping and your server to the taxi driver and coffee shop barista, here’s a tipping guide. A well-deserved tip can make all the difference for someone working federal minimum wage to support their family. And, a kind note to go along with it can make their day.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
Other countries have different tipping etiquette than the United States, so be sure to research your specific international destination. Tipping customs vary from country to country and you don’t want to offend.
Family Vacation Tipping Guide: Who & How Much
This tipping guide gives you a good rule of thumb for several categories of service workers. The last year has been tough for all service and hospitality workers relying on a percent tip to feed their families. When you can, always be a bigger tipper, particularly for excellent service.
These workers lift heavy bags and help us get to our flights on time with less hassle. Don’t forget to tip them. $1-3 per bag is appropriate.
Plan to tip $1 to $5 depending on how many bags and how much trouble it saves you. If a doorman doubles as a bellhop, follow the same advice.
You know to tip the valet service. But do you know when to tip? American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) suggests tipping $1-5 when your car is delivered. They say that giving a tip when your car is parked is optional. We’d suggest that $1 is a bit low and that you should start at $2 or $3.
There is no need to tip the front desk unless they take on extra tasks for you. There are times that a front desk agent may double as a concierge. Or, they may retrieve packages for you. There are any number of additional tasks they may help you with and then you would want to tip.
This may be the one area of services most overlooked, yet most deserved. Housekeepers work extraordinarily hard. And, isn’t cleanliness the most important part of any vacation? So, how much should you tip housekeeping? The AHLA suggests $1-5 per night.
However, if you aren’t tidy or are a large group, you certainly want to err on the higher side. Or, if you are staying in a condo and they are helping to wash dishes or other services outside of their scope of work, you certainly will want to leave a larger tip. And, really, these are the people who will most appreciate it.
What else should you know about tipping maid service? Your housekeeper may change daily. So it is actually a good idea to tip daily, rather than at the end of your vacation. During this last year of the Pandemic, housekeeping services may have been limited. Should you tip less? The TravelingMom consensus is, no. Continue to tip the same or even more. Be a good tipper.
Should you request items delivered to your room such as an extra blanket or toiletries, make sure to give that person $1-3 for their trouble.
On a cruise, this person is a room attendant. And, the cruise line will likely recommend an amount that they may add to your final bill. This TravelingMom was grateful for their room attendant on their Disney Cruise. Keeping a small space tidy is a difficult task. And, the kids’ stuffed animals tucked into bed was an appreciated extra touch.
How much to tip the concierge really depends on the service provided. Start at $5 for a fairly basic service and go up from there for help landing hard-to-score reservations.
Generally, room service food delivery should be tipped similarly as wait staff at a restaurant at 15-20% of the total bill. But many hotels and resorts will add a tip onto the bill. So, look at the bill before tipping. If it is included, consider adding a little extra.
This last year, food delivery has taken many new forms other than just traditional wait staff. Don’t forget to tip anyone who brings you food or drink in any form, with the exception of fast food. It has never been expected to tip on fast food. But again, when you receive good service if not a tip, then a good review is appreciated.
Consider tipping $1-2 per person for a hotel courtesy shuttle driver. If the driver does something extra, consider giving more. For example, they may make an extra stop for you.
From the hairdresser and manicurist to the masseuse, 15-20% is an appropriate tip.
Courtesy Car Driver
Some luxury hotels include free rides in their private house car as a part of your stay. This is a private ride and you should tip more. We suggest $5 to $10 per ride.
Taxi, Uber, Lyft or Private Shuttle
The recommendations differ greatly here, ranging from 10 – 20%. You may need to factor in the cost. If you’ve taken a $5 Uber ride, 20% may still be on the low side. Surge pricing has become more reasonable. But there is still a valid reason for surge pricing. A driver may have to spend a lot of time getting to a destination, and then getting out of there. Same goes for taxi drivers.
When what should be a five-minute drive takes forty-five minutes, I certainly wouldn’t scrimp on a tip. Fortunately most of these car services offer the ability to add the tip to your credit card.
For questions on how to use Lyft or Uber when traveling with kids, check out this article.
Tour & Activity Providers
Recommendations for tour guides and activity providers vary. 10 to 20% is a safe guideline. If it is a group tour, or shorter in length you can probably tip on the lower end. But for private tours and day-long activities, you will want to tip on the higher end. The more personal the service, the more you should tip. This could be a white water raft guide or wrangler leading a horseback riding trail ride.
More Vacation Tipping Guidelines
Remember that. for someone working as a tipped worker, a tip can make all the difference to them and their family. So, include tips in your vacation budget. Bring cash with some in smaller bills so that you are prepared.
Increasing a tip is an excellent way to reward good service. Yet, if someone goes above and beyond, a note to the manager or mention in a review could mean a lot to them too.
If you are receiving a discount, make sure to tip on the full price.
Generally the tipping point is at the end of service, with the exception of housekeeping as described above.
And finally, when traveling outside of America, make sure to check guidelines for that specific country. It is possible to offend in a different culture with tips. Tipping customs are different in different parts of the world.