Manners Mentor Vacation Tipping Etiquette

By: Maralee McKee


Planning any trips this summer? You might be surprised by the etiquette of vacation tipping. There are more people than most of us realize to show gratitude to both in word (“Thank you for carrying my bags!”) and in action (giving a tip)!

I’ve put together a simple, savvy vacation tipping etiquette guide so you’ll know whom to tip and how much.

Now, this handy dandy list isn’t for you lucky world travelers. The etiquette of tipping varies nation by nation. In some parts of the world, a tip is actually considered an insult.

This is for those of us who are shorter on funds than usual this year and are loading up the minivan or heading out on Budget Airlines R Us to enjoy a little R&R with our families in the nifty fifty states.

While the virtue of thriftiness is honorable on our part, when passed along at someone else’s expense, it morphs into its ugly stepsister, “stinginess.”

The reality of our finances this year might force us to lower the star count of the hotel we choose. We might eat meals at chain restaurants instead of top picks of the Mobile® Travel Guide. Those are practical steps; however, not appropriately tipping those who are providing for our comfort isn’t a budget option of the gracious and grateful.

In a time when fewer people are traveling, our tips count more than ever to those who not only serve us but also depend on our generosity for their livelihood.

Your Go-To List for Vacation Tipping Etiquette!


• Curbside check-in: $1.00 per bag. It’s nice to tip up for the convenience of this service. If you have three bags, tip $5.00. More bags, tip up proportionally.

• Shuttle driver from the terminal to the rental car agency or offsite parking: $1.00 per person, more if the driver helped load your bags.

• Taxi: 15% of the fare, more if the driver helps with bags. Never less than $1.00, even for short rides.


• Doorman: No tip required for opening the door. Tip $1.00 for hailing you a cab, more if he did so in bad weather.

• Bellman: $1.00 per bag, plus extra if he brings you ice or provides you with information about your hotel or the local area.

• Concierge: No tip is required for general hotel information like “What time does breakfast service end?” You do tip for any special service such as making outside reservations, providing printed directions, reserving a car, booking a sightseeing tour, etc. How much to tip varies widely: from $2.00 for printed directions to $20 or more for making special arrangements.

• In-room Dining: A service charge will be added to your bill, but that goes to the hotel, not usually to the person delivering your meal. Add at least 10%, not less than $3.00.

• Hotel Dining Room: The same tipping traditions apply as in any restaurant.

• Maid: This is the most overlooked and little-known tip in all of tip land! When staying for more than one night, tip at least $1.00 per day, per person. This is a perfect time to tip up! (Leave $5.00 for three people.) Place the tip each morning on the desk with a note that says “For our Maid” so she knows it’s hers. I always write a short thank you. Try something like, “Good morning! Thank you for the joy of coming back to a clean room each day! We appreciate your work on our behalf!” I have had maids run down the hall to thank us, not to mention extra chocolates on our pillows.:) It’s a perfect way to express your gratitude to someone who works hard for little money or recognition.

Tour Guides:

• Taking a quick city tour to learn the local lore? Lucky you! Make sure to thank your guide. A good average is about $3.00 to $5.00 per person (no need to include babies and toddlers).

Well, there’s the start of our list! Who else should we add? Comment and join the conversation! Also, share any budget-friendly and family-friendly vacation spots you know and love.

I’ll mostly be enjoying a staycation this summer. If you’re traveling, I wish you a safe and joy-filled journey!

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Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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