For women going places

Money Moves: Tipping on the Road


If you are creating a budget for your next business trip, be sure to include tipping! Travel is an industry made up largely of strictly service employees – many of whom rely on your tips. Tipping can lead to better service and easier days. 

Since the etiquette of tipping can be a little confusing, here’s the Woman Road Warrior guide to airport and hotel tipping that may help. If travelling abroad, be sure to learn about your destination’s customs and tipping idiosyncrasies (here’s one great guide ).

Tipping at the airport is very simple: You need to do very little of it. In the case of most airline services, tipping is frowned upon. However, if you use curbside check-in it is customary to pay the skycap $1-$3 per bag, in addition to paying the standard $2 a bag charge. The base fee goes to the airline, not the person who checks your bag. If a skycap or baggage handler helps you carry your bags after the flight, out of baggage claim and to your transportation, a $2-$3 tip per bag is similarly customary. If, for any reason, you require wheelchair services or a ride on an electric cart, tipping may also be required ($3-$5 for a wheelchair attendant, $2-$3 for an electric cart driver).

Of course, if you go to a full service restaurant or coffee shop, get a manicure or grab a drink, then you should tip in the same way you would if you were outside an airport. 

Hotels require a bit more tipping than airports. While you should not feel obligated to tip someone who provided less than adequate service, most hotel employees rely on tips for their living. Therefore, hotel employees expect tips, and you’ll generally both be better off if you give them. You should also take into account the city and nature of the hotel in determining the amount. 

You should tip a doorman $2-$3 if he hails a taxi for you or assists you with your luggage. Otherwise, no tip is expected. Bellhops should be tipped $2-$5, depending on (1) whether he brings the luggage to your room, (2) how many bags you have, (3) if he offers other services, such as bringing ice.  If the bellman delivers a package, or housekeeping delivers an extra pillow, give one or two dollars tip for the delivery. If gratuity is not already added to room service, a 15 to 20 percent tip is customary, in addition to the $1-$2 dollars for the attendant who delivers the meal. You should tip your valet at least a dollar each time he brings out your car. And although they work out of sight, remember to tip your maid service $1-$3 per night.  You can leave that in an envelope marked for housekeeping, or leave your change on the table. Leave it each day as housekeepers can change during your stay.

So the Quick Stats on who and how you should tip in airports and hotels:
  • Skycaps: $1-3 per bag
  • Doorman: $2-3 for specific services
  • Bellhops: $2-5, or $1 per bag
  • Hotel Deliveries: $1-2
  • Room Service: 15-20 percent gratuity
  • Hotel Valet: $1-2
  • Maid Service: $1-3 per night

Tipping for on-the-ground transportation is generally simple.There is no tipping involved in renting a car. If you are particularly happy with exemplary service, you may want to write to the company with your compliment. You shouldn't tip when you use public transportation either.

It is customary to give your taxi or limo driver a tip of 15-20% of the fare. You should give shuttle drivers $1-$2 per piece of luggage, and a dollar or so to a valet who brings your car around when you leave.

If you have been particularly impressed by someone’s service, you should write a note or contact the company's manager to praise that person. In addition to it being a nice gesture, you might be helpful to someone's career.

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche

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