As the school year is coming to a close and warm weather is finally hitting the East Coast, our attention begins turning toward vacation. Soon, hotels will book up, flights will go on standby, and beaches will be packed with sandcastles, boogie boards and boardwalk French fries.
But as always, with vacation comes financial responsibility. Sure, you have the big expenses taken care of—but what about the lesser-known, sometimes awkward transactions known most commonly as “tipping”? When, and who, do you tip? And how much?
- Tipping with Transportation: It is customary to tip 10 to 15 percent of your fare when using a taxi or limo service. If you are helped with your bags either in the airport or by the driver, the going rate is $1 or $2 per bag. Even if you don’t use public transportation but must use valet parking, tip the parking attendant $1 to $2. If you use a shuttle service from the hotel, it is typical to tip the driver $2 per person. In some instances, the driver will have a single bill lying in the front seat visible to the passengers; in this case, this is what is typically expected for his or her services.
- Tipping on Tours: If tips are not automatically included with pricing, local tour guides are normally given $1 per person for a half-day tour and $2 per person for a full-day tour. If the tour covers multiple days, a suggested tip for the guide in charge is $3-8 per person per day. If it is a private tour guide, it is standard to increase your generosity. Bus drivers also receive $2 per person.
- Restaurant Tipping: Most U.S. restaurants accept 15 percent as the standard tip, though excellent service might engage you to tip as high as 20 percent of the total bill. If you are just stopping for drinks, bartenders receive anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to pay attention to the bill. In foreign destinations such as Europe or Asia, a “service charge” as high as 15 percent may already be added to your bill, and thus would not require an extra tip.
- Check Local Customs: Be sure to read up in travel guides what is commonly accepted where you are vacationing. For instance, some cultures such as Japan do not expect tips, while others like Mexico use it as a primary source of income.
- Always Carry Small Bills: There is nothing more awkward than opening up your wallet and only finding twenties or higher. Make it a habit to make change (a surplus of ones and fives) in advance while planning your vacation. Especially in some foreign countries, it may be difficult to make change for larger bills. And though you’ll be able to tip directly from your Visa® Check Card sometimes, this will not always be the case.
So before you crash the waves, explore the mountains, or backpack through Europe, plan a course of action when it comes to the “little things” so your trip will be happy, relaxing and smooth. Bon voyage!
What tips do you have on tipping?