Top Tips on Travel Tipping From an Etiquette Expert

Hotel room attendant // Photo by Marriott International
Hotel room attendant // Photo by Marriott International

In response to Marriott's recent program with Maria Shriver to encourage travelers to tip hotel staff, etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore offers her top recommendations for who to tip while traveling. 

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Whitmore says, "I'm in favor of tipping housekeepers at hotels. When I travel, I leave $2-$3 a night. I place the money in an envelope on the bathroom counter marked, "Housekeeping - Thank You!" Housekeepers are some of the hardest working staff members in a hotel and many make less than $10 per hour. They deserve to be appreciated."

Her key recommendations:

Tipping in Airports

  • Taxi drivers: 10 to 15 percent of the bill.
  • Car service: 20 percent of the bill. In some cases, the tip is included. If you’re not sure, ask.
  • Shuttle drivers: $1 per bag.
  • Skycaps: $1 to $2 per bag.

Tipping in Hotels

  • Doorman: $1 to $2 per bag for moving your bags from the car to the bell cart. Tip $1 to $2 dollars for hailing a taxi for you.
  • Bellman: $1 to $2 per bag and $1 to $2 for every delivery to your room.
  • Concierge: $10 or more for special services such as securing you a hard-to-get reservation to a popular restaurant.
  • Housekeeper: Tip $2 to $3 per night, add an additional $1 to $2 for special requests. If you have the same housekeeper throughout your stay, place the money in an envelope labeled "Housekeeping" at the end of your trip and leave it in a location where it can be easily seen, such as on a pillow. If there are multiple housekeepers, tip each day.
  • Room service: 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: 15 to 20 percent of the bill.

Tipping in Restaurants

  • Coatroom attendant: $1 to $2 per item.
  • 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.
  • Wine sommelier: Gratuity is optional but recommended for extremely attentive or helpful sommeliers. A tip of 5 to 10 percent of the wine charge is appropriate.
  • Restroom attendant: 50 cents to $1 for handing you a towel or if you use any products displayed on the sink.

Jacqueline Whitmore is founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach and author of Poised for Success: Mastering The Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals