Tipping Guide Policy for Travelers

waitress pouring wine

Tipping correctly can save you time, embarrassment, and especially money. So take a tip and familiarize yourselves with this guide before leaving home: It will advise you how much to toke in any situation.

"Here comes the extraction team," my husband jokes whenever we pull up to a resort and the parking valet, doorman, and bellman descend on us.

On your travels it may seem that everyone has their hand out at some point -- but that doesn't necessarily obligate you to guide a gratuity into it. A tip is for service rendered. A big tip is for services performed either exceptionally well or above and beyond the call of duty. And no tipping at all sends a clear message that you have been dissatisfied with the service.

Let's assume that everyone does their job properly and you want some guidance.

Cab Driver

A 15 percent tip is considered standard in the United States. In New York City, that may earn you a dirty look. (Try tipping 20 percent, or a quarter on the dollar.) In-cab credit-card machines will do the math for you, although you may find their suggestions overly generous. While many riders factor in the tax when calculating a tip, there's no justification for that. In London, where cab drivers study for years to learn their city, tipping 10 percent is considered generous. Go figure.

Uber Driver

You're not obligated to tip an Uber, Lyft, or Via rideshare driver, but it's considerate to give $1-2 on a short trip.


Tip $2-5 dollars per bag at the port. You want your luggage to get on and off the ship, don't you?

Limousine Driver

Tipping 15-20 percent is standard, unless a service charge is included. You will be expected to pay for any tolls, but you don't have to factor their cost into the total price.

Tour Guide

Carry some small bills with you, and as you depart from the tour, reward a good guide by tipping 10-20 percent of the cost of a ticket or the day's stipend. If you've had a driver with you on the tour, he gets $1-5 at the end of the day.


Parking Valet

Tip $1-5 dollars (on a sliding Kia-Mercedes scale) when you leave your car and again when you pick it up.


Tip $1 if he hails a cab for you.


Here's my rule of thumb: Tip $5 per bag in a five-star hotel and $1-2 dollars per bag everywhere else.


Tip $2-10 per day, depending again on the type of hotel and the mess you've created.

Room Service

Most hotels build in a service charge for room service, so scrutinize the bill. If it does not include one, tip 15 percent.


It is the job of the concierge to assist guests, so it is not necessary to tip this individual. Yet if the service has been especially valuable, such as getting into a restaurant that claims its reservations are filled, tipping $5-20 is reasonable.



Tip 5 percent based on the pre-tax total. However, if you are waiting in line with a reservation at a trendy, crowded restaurant, a discreetly folded $20 bill placed in the captain's palm is likely to get you seated sooner.


Tip 15-20 percent based on the pre-tax total, more if the service has been good in a low-priced restaurant. Tip 20-25 percent in a fine restaurant. If a service charge is already included, no tip is required.


Tip approximately 10 percent based on the total wine bill, less if it's an expensive vintage.


Tip $1 per drink.

Coat Check

Tip $1 per item.


Tip attendant 50¢-$1 per visit.


We've all seen those signs that say "Tipping is not a city in China." Does that mean we should be intimidated into tipping someone for taking your frappuccino order, putting a donut in a bag, or even ringing up a cash register? Of course not. But if it's an establishment you frequent, it can't hurt to leave some change in the jar once in a while — particularly around the holidays. At a hotel spa, the masseuse or masseur will expect a 20 percent tip. And remember, she or he has the power to crack bones....


What if you visit a hotel, resort, or cruise ship that has a no-tipping policy? It's up to you to abide by it. In such instances, though, it's the rare staff member who refuses a tip. Enough said.


Golf writer Brent Kelley offers these guidelines:

Car Valet

Tip the same as you would at a restaurant that has valet parking...$2 would be a good amount.

Bag Boy

The equivalent of a hotel bellhop, a bag boy takes your golf clubs and sets them up on a golf cart for you when you arrive. Afterwards he removes your clubs, wipes them down and returns them to your car when the round is over. Tip a couple bucks on arrival; tip $5 after the round if your clubs/shoes were cleaned, or $2-$3 if not.


Most starters simply check you in at the first tee, maybe announce that it is your turn to play. Under normal circumstances, it is not customary to tip the starter. But if you show up without a tee time and the starter fits you in, pass him a few bucks. If you're staying at a resort for several days, and the starter sets aside your group's preferred times for the days you want to play, your group might tip from $50-$100 total. 


Tip your caddie 50 percent of the caddie fee (adjusted up or down for quality of service). If there's a caddie master -- the person who assigns caddies to golfers -- ensure getting a good one by tipping the caddie master 20 percent of the caddie fee.


A single forecaddie works for one group of golfers. He doesn't carry bags but does keep track of everyone's shots and generally helps keep the round moving. A forecaddie should get one tip from the group, from $50-$100.

Was this page helpful?