Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Tips for tippers

Tipping has got to be one of the most mysterious things for me during travel. Who do I tip? How much? It's nerve-wracking. And then, I have learned that it varies by country.

Here is my current "tip playbook" - I'd be interested to know if you have any changes, additions, comments, or different experiences to share.

CategoryUSInternational Differences
Bellhop$1 per bag if they handle your luggage from your vehicle to the elevator / reception. Add $1 per bag if they take them all the way to your room.Local currency equivalent to US.
Maid / Chamber MaidThough not many people do this, I have heard that a good rule of thumb is the equivalent of $2 per day. Local currency equivalent to US.

15-18% of bill, for good service. 20-25% for exceptional service. 10% for average service.

I also have a "rule of thumb" where I generally won't tip less than $2 for table service, regardless of how much I spend.

Local currency equivalent to US, but gratuities / service fees are often included in the bill in some countries. Check to make sure you aren't tipping twice. When in doubt, ask them "if service is included in the total."
Shuttle Drivers

$2-3 if they are helpful. Add $1 per bag if they help with luggage.

If their shuttle service saves you cab fare, consider a $5 tip.

Shuttles are more likely to be paid shuttles, not free shuttles. Tip equivalent to $2-3 is my rule of thumb.
BartenderA dollar per drink or %15 of the bill. Add more if they are very helpful. If it's busy, tip them anyway - they have a tough job.

Local currency equivalent to US -- generally.

However, in UK pubs with "owner/proprietors" I have had the bartender give me back my tip (on quite a number of occasions) saying things like, "I own this place - you don't need to tip me."

TaxiTypically 15% of the fare, unless they get lost or go a way that I know is unnecessarily inefficient. Then I drop to 10% or so. If I get good advice or extra help getting to an appointment where I'm running late, I may go to 20-25%.

Generally, 15% of fare in countries where tipping is customary.

When in doubt, I ask "Do you typically get tips from your fares? How much?" I find they typically fall in the 15% range.

In the UK and Holland, I have had taxi drivers tell me they usually get tipped for short fares, but not for longer ones. Not sure if this is consistent or anomalous.

Barber / StylistTypically 15-20% of the check.I don't know - I lived in Holland for a while but I just don't remember and generally don't get my hair cut abroad.
Parking Valet$2-4 if they are retrieving your car for you. $1-2 if they are just handing you the keys.Local currency equivalent to US, from my limited experience - though I don't often valet park internationally - I tend to take taxis more often.
Shoe shineAt least $2 - more if they are very helpful or do a fantastic job (I'm particular about my shoes - I had two lousy shine jobs in the Chicago airport, for example and I'll never get my shoes shined there again).Local currency equivalent to US.
That's a starter guide, with the caveat that these are based on my own experience and opinions. What about you - do you know of any additional categories, variations from my guide, etc?

I'd love to hear from you.