Travel Happiness: Tips on Tipping

Travel Happiness
Tips on Tipping
by Art Richards

When it comes to a vacation, it's the smallest details, such as tipping that can become the most confusing. Whom should you tip? How much? Do you need to tip at all? Well, never fear! I have come across this simple guide to tipping which will help to take the guesswork out of tipping and help you focus on more important things--like enjoying your vacation!
Airport & Train Stations: Upon arriving at or leaving from the airport or train station, tip the standard porter rate of $1 per bag; more if your luggage is very heavy. Typically, a $1 tip for hailing a taxi is appropriate for doormen. However, you may want to tip more for special services, such as carrying your bags.
Hotels: When you arrive at your hotel after a long flight, first things first: Tip the taxi or limo driver. Ten to 15 percent of your total fare is usually expected. If you drive your own car, give the valet parking attendant $1 to $2. If you take a shuttle van or bus, tip the driver $2 per person.
The bellman, who will be more than happy to assist you with your bags and the door, should receive $1 to $2 per bag. Tip when he shows you to your room and again if he assists you upon checkout. Tip more if he provides any additional service. The concierge, who can get you anything from dinner reservations to hard-to-come-by theatre tickets, deserves $5 to $10 for such feats. You may tip at the time of service or at the end of the trip. To ensure good service throughout your stay, add a $20 tip to the bill.
Add 15% of the bill to a room service charge, unless a gratuity is already added then add no additional tip or simply $1. If you requested something delivered to your room such as a hairdryer or iron, tip $1 per item received. Typically, the maid deserves a $1-$2 tip each day, as well.
If you're taking a tour and a tip is not automatically included, tip a local guide $1 per person for a half-day tour, $2 for a full-day tour. Tip a private guide more.
If you are on a multi-day tour with a tour manager--someone who travels with the group for several days and is essentially in charge--tour operators suggest anywhere from $3-8 per person per day. Don't forget the bus driver either--$2 per person per day.
Cruises: When on a cruise, tip according to your comfort level and only on the last evening of the cruise. AS a general rule, dining room waiters receive $3.50 per person/per day whereas the dining room busboy should receive $2.00 per person/per day, the dining room maitre d' $.35 per person/per day and the dining room headwaiter $.15 per person/per day. The room steward, for all his efforts, receives $3.50 per person/per day. Other personnel, such as bar waiters, bellboys and deck stewards may be tipped as service is rendered.
Restaurants: Although excellent service calls for 20 percent of the total bill, most U.S. restaurants accept 15 percent as the standard tip. In restaurants where you sit at the bar or the waiter is a small part of the meal (cafes or pubs), 10 percent is also acceptable. The bar tenders, themselves, generally receive between 15 & 20 percent when you sit at the bar. If the food or service is unsatisfactory, speak to the manager--don't walk out without tipping. And pay attention to lunch and dinner bills in Europe and Asia, as some restaurants tack on an additional 15 percent (usually listed on the menu or check as a "service charge") and do not expect tips.
At fancy restaurants, tip the maitre d' between $5 and $10 if he gets you a table--more when the restaurant is full and you have no reservations. Tip $1 when you check your coat, and another $.50 to $1 for restroom attendants. For personal service from the wine steward, opt for 10 percent of the wine bill.
These "Tips on Tipping" will hopefully give you a general idea of the standard tipping rate for different stops along your journey. You are always welcome to tip more when the service is excellent, and when you do, you are sure to see the red carpet treatment all the way!

Art Richards is the owner of Richards World Travel, Inc. in Hagerstown. (www.richardsworldtravel.com)