6 Times You Should Leave a Tip While Traveling, Experts Say
These are the rules of the road when it comes to travel tipping, according to etiquette pros.
Whether your travel plans revolve around sun and sand, hitting the ski slopes, or visiting a family member, you're going to need to budget for things like flights, accommodations, activities, meals, and more. Yet far too often, travelers forget to budget for one of the most important aspects of any vacation: All of the people toiling behind the scenes to make those special moments and memories possible.
That's why etiquette experts recommend that you always bring cash to tip for the services that help your travel plans go off without a hitch. In fact, they say there are six times you should always plan to tip while traveling—and you're probably forgetting at least one. Here's how to mind your manners on the road by tipping when you're supposed to.
When you take the airport shuttle
You wouldn't think to tip a public bus driver, but the airport economy has different rules. Tipping your airport shuttle driver—even just two to three dollars per ride—is a simple and effective way to show your gratitude, on par with tipping your taxi driver after a short ride.
"These drivers move you around the airport effortlessly and should be rewarded for their efficiency. A tip thanks them for the excellent service," says Jules Hirst, founder and owner of Etiquette Consulting.
When you're helped by a porter or skycap
Lugging heavy bags around the airport can be stressful and physically strenuous, which is no way to start a relaxing vacation. Thankfully, there are ways to check your bags upon entry, so you can breeze through the rest of the airport and kick off your journey on the right foot.
However, when you hand off your luggage—especially if you check your gear curbside—it's important to remember to tip your porter or skycap.
"Helping you through check-in and making sure your bags make it to the correct destination are no small feats," says Hirst. "Tipping them for their service and professionalism rewards them for helping you."
When you stay in a hotel
There are few places where tipping is expected more than in a hotel. That's because, from the front desk attendant who fields your calls for more pillows to the housekeeping staff who grace your room with turndown service, there's no shortage of team members on staff working hard to make your stay enjoyable.
"The bellhop should be tipped for hauling your bags to your room. The maids should be tipped for cleaning your room. If you make use of the concierge service, you should tip based on the level of service received," says Hirst.
Jodi RR Smith, founder and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, says you should also remember to include the room service staff, the valet who parks your car or helps to get a taxi, and anyone else who provides you with a notable service.
When you take a taxi or rideshare
When you close your eyes and picture your dream vacation, you may imagine cold drinks on hot beaches, exploring historic sites, or living in the lap of luxury at a serene day spa. While the transportation that shuttles you from one of those transcendent vacation experiences to another is probably the farthest thing from your mind, these are exactly the moments that can make or break the experience by stoking or soothing your stress.
That's why you should always make a point of tipping your driver for ushering you safely from point A to point B—not to mention for doing it in a timely fashion, says Hirst.
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When you hire a tour guide
Hiring a tour guide is a great way to get an insider experience of any new place you visit. They know the sites, the activities worth trying, and the history of the place—meaning you'll be able to make the most of your vacation. Hirst says that you should always plan on tipping your tour guides for leading the tour and providing a memorable experience.
Unsure how much to budget for? Most experts recommend tipping between 10 and 20 percent of the cost of the tour.
When you receive services you tip for at home
When you're in vacation mode, you may have a heightened awareness of all of the travel-related tips you'll need to dole out. Yet Hirst says it's important not to let everyday tipping fall by the wayside as you explore your new surroundings.
"Even though you're traveling, you still need to tip for services that you would normally tip in your day-to-day life," she tells Best Life. "The barista at the coffee shop, the server at the restaurant, and the valet attendant all still need to be tipped while you are traveling. Unless local customs say otherwise, services you tip at home still need to be tipped while traveling."
Smith adds that by researching the tipping culture of any international destination, you can avoid an embarrassing oversight. And remember—though tipping courtesies vary widely from place to place, you're far more likely to offend by forgetting to tip than by tipping when you shouldn't.