Are You Cheap? The 10 Commandments of (Travel) Tipping You Need to Know Now

·Lead Editor

Don’t cheap out when it comes to tipping housekeeping. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Maria Shriver wants you to tip your hotel maid.

Marriott has tapped the former First Lady of California to launch their new “The Envelope Please” program which encourages guests to tip the housekeeping staff at hotels by placing envelopes in thousand of rooms across Marriott’s various locations.

Tipping can be a touchy subject, especially when it comes to travel: Who do you have to tip? How much? What happens when the service is terrible?

No worries – Yahoo Travel has got you covered. We spoke with Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, to come up with our 10 Commandments of Travel Tipping.

Related: Hotels and Travel Companies are Jumping Through Hoops to Please Your Pets


If you don’t like to tip, go eat in Europe. (Photo: Thinkstock)

1. Tip unless given a reason not to. “It’s customary in the United States to tip,” says Whitmore. It’s the way our system works, and people depend on tips as income. So when you’re traveling domestically, until that changes (or unless you received poor service – more on that later), cough it up.

2. Check if there’s a service charge already added. Especially with travel related tipping, there may be a gratuity already built into the total on bills for things like room service and car service (thanks Uber!).

3. Carry lots of single dollar bills. (Caveat: There is the off chance that you may be mistaken for a stripper, but it will make tipping on your trip so much easier.) “I carry 20 to 30 ones every time I travel for business,” says Whitmore, which usually enough for the average 2- or 3-day stay.

4. Tip anyone who touches your bags (because they’re supposed to, not because they’re creepy). The rule of thumb is $1-a-bag, unless your bag is especially heavy or clumsy, then make it $2 or $3 a bag.

5. A fifteen percent tip is solid when it comes to service providers like waiters, maître d’s, and cab drivers. “Ten percent is too little, 18 percent is generous, but 20 percent is easier to estimate,” says Whitmore.

6. Don’t react to poor service with an obnoxious 20-cent tip (yes, we’re talking to you, LeSean McCoy). “First, talk to the manager and make sure the problem was not something out of your service provider’s control – sometimes it seems like it was your waiter’s fault for example, but it really had to do with the kitchen,” suggests Whitmore. If you decide the service wasn’t the kind that deserves a thank you, then give nothing, but leave a respectful note about what went wrong.

7. You’ll receive better service if you tip – especially if you tip well. “Money talks,” says Whitmore. “That valet will remember you’re the person who gave him a few dollars,” which especially comes in handy if you’re staying somewhere for several days. (That valet attendant, by the way, should get $2 to $5 each time he retrieves your car.)

8. If someone gives you extra help, extra tip. If after you tip the bellman for bringing you your bags, you then have him go get you some ice, give him another $1 or $2. The staff have to be respectful and courteous as part of the their jobs (and human decency), but if they’ve gone out of their way, show them you appreciate the additional effort.

9. Make sure you think of everyone. We all know to tip the taxi driver, the waiter, even the bellman. But Maria Shriver needs to star in a whole national campaign to get the poor housekeeping staff a tip. (They should get $2 to $3 a night.) Don’t forget your maître d, ($10 to $100 depending on the restaurant), the concierge who got you dinner reservations ($10 for a hard to get rezzie), or the doorman who took your bags out of the car ($1 to $2 a bag). If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for Maria Shriver.

10. When in doubt, follow this list. Still not sure who to tip when or how much? Follow Whitmore’s handy dandy reference guide:

Taxi drivers: 10 to 15 percent of the bill.

Car service driver: 20 percent of the bill. (Though in some cases – like with Uber for instance – the tip is included. If you’re not sure, ask.)

Shuttle drivers: Tip $1 per bag, more if they’re heavy.

Skycaps: $1 to $2 per bag

Hotel doorman: $1 to $2 per bag for moving your bags from the car to the bell cart. Tip $1 to $2 dollars for hailing you a taxi.

Bellman: $1 to $2 per bag and $1 to $2 for every additional delivery to your room.

Concierge: $10 or more for special services such as securing you a hard-to-get reservation to a popular restaurant. (You don’t have to tip for restaurant recommendations or directions.)

Housekeeper: $2 to $3 per night, add an additional $1 to $2 for special requests like towels, shampoo or blankets.

Room service waiter: 15 to 18 percent of the bill before taxes. Tipping is optional if a service charge is included in the bill.

Valet: $2 to $5 each time an attendant retrieves your car.

Spa service provider: 15 to 20 percent of the bill.

Coatroom attendant: $1 to $2 per item.

Restaurant Maitre d’: $10 to $100 depending on the restaurant, occasion and level of service you expect. Present the tip before you sit down at your table.

Waiter:at least 15%

Wine sommelier: Gratuity is optional but 5 to 10 percent is recommended for an extremely helpful one

Restroom attendant: 50 cents to $1 for handing you a towel or if you use any products displayed on the sink.

Related: That’s My Room?!? Experts Tell How to Get What You Pay For

WATCH: Marriott’s Reminder to Take Care of Housekeepers

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