Tipping in the US (other than restaurants)

So I’ve just returned from my honeymoon, where Mrs Smurf & I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Hawaii.

I had traveled to the States a couple of years ago, so thought I had the basics down pat on the whole tipping front, especially when eating out.

However, a few different things turned up, which we played by ear, but I’m interested to know what is the accepted “norm” for these things?

These times include -

Housekeeping - should you leave a tip for your hotel housekeeper each day, and if so how much? We generally erred on the side of yes, and left 2 bucks normally. However we did on occasion forget to do so. On one memorial occasion, we were out of bills and left 2 bucks in quarters with a note to say sorry about the coins. They remained untouched that day :confused: But when we left 2 dollar bills the next day they were collected.

Shuttle Buses - particularly shuttling between the airport terminal and the rental car place? I had gone with a dollar per bag for bus/van drivers for transfers from the airport to a hotel last trip, but what about the rental car shuttle?

Room Service - the couple of hotels where we ordered room service automatically added an 18% gratuity to room service orders, should you still tip the guy that actually delivers it? Or will he be getting a cut of that automatic gratuity?

Porters - I had been given the impression that a buck a bag was the usual? is that correct?

I found on several occasions I wan short of small bills, it seemed with all these hotels, they leaked out of my hands like water. Is there an accepted thing to do if, for a real example, a porter has taken our bags out of the car and taken them up to the room, and you (i.e. me :frowning: ) find that you have but a single dollar bill and a 20 in your wallet. :smack: Do you go for the, “I’m Australian I don’t know about tipping” attitude and studiously not notice the porters slight hesitation in the doorway on the way out, and “subtle” look in the direction of the bloke, and feel bad about it. Or is it better to just flat out say, “Ooops sorry, I don’t have any change, I’ll catch you tomorrow for it”?

Anyway, just a couple of questions, about that crazy tipping :smack: I often think that Americanbs must walk around with huge wads of dollar bills in their pockets :smiley:

Sounds like you did fine on the situations.

As for not having change, I would just give a nod and a “Thank You, sir.” Yeah, he might be pissed, but if your “thank you” was sincere and you were polite to him, at least you’re not an asshole. He’ll realize that. If he’s a person you will be using later, maybe you could catch him next time you see him or tip a bit more next time you have to use his services.

I would not mentioned it however. Don’t offer to “get him next time.” Don’t comment “Oh no, sorry, I’m out of change.” Just give a sincere “Thank you” and walk away. If you gotta stiff someone JUST DO IT! Don’t give an excuse. I’d say the only exception to this rule would be…if you tip him at a later date, it would be OK to bring up that you didn’t tip last time. “Thank you…sorry…I didn’t have any change on me last time.” He/she’ll be flattered you remembered and gave it consideration.

Either way, I earn my income off of tips and you did very well in my book. :slight_smile:

You did fine. Actually, most people will intentionally skip a tip or two to avoid tip exhaustion.

Anyone that handles your bag expects a dollar per bag. They also expect that you can waive them off and carry your own bag.

If you said you had no cash or money, it would not be a big deal. Mention it and move on. Quick and clean tipping or not.

First, Congratulations to you and the new missus!

Housekeeping - $2 a day, unless you have a suite or other situation requiring additional service. I don’t know what the deal was with the quarters, but maybe she didn’t want to jangle around with 45 grams of quarters in her pocket.

Shuttle Buses - $1 a bag is about right. For car rental bus drivers a tip is not usually expected but $1 a bag is more than nice.

Room Service - If they add a gratuity on the bill, do not tip, unless he gives you a foot massage while he’s up there. :slight_smile:

Porters - $1 a bag is the going standard.

you have but a single dollar bill and a 20 in your wallet. - skip the tip and skip an explanation, although he might sneer. However, if you are sincere you can note his name and leave it with the Bell Captain later.

I often think that Americanbs must walk around with huge wads of dollar bills in their pockets - That’s the real pain in the ass about tipping, is keeping change handy all the time. But that’s when you’re traveling. I don’t tip everybody I come into contact with on a normal day at home. It’s even worse when you travel abroad and it’s harder to get small bills as a matter of routine.

I visited Egypt and in the Cairo airport there were a lot of freelance porters (I don’t think they allow this anymore). One guy wanted a tip for moving my bags from the floor to a conveyer belt. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a note for 25 piasters. He just laughed at me when I handed it to him. Turns out I had tipped him about USD 0.06.

About housekeeping, I normally leave 2 dollars per night I stayed but I give it all together the day I leave. Am I doing it wrong? I normally leave money all over the place and I am always glad to see that housekeeping didn’t interpret any of it as a tip.

As for not having change, just tell them and they will change it for you. They have plenty of change in their pockets and will be glad to turn a wad of ones into a twenty. At least I did when I bagged groceries at the supermarket.

Agree on car rental bus drivers- I’ve never seen anyone but me tip them, and they seem surprised when I do.

Yeah, the key is you pretend that all you really want is the extra service of getting change. Then you hand the guy his tip back. Any of these guys will be glad to go along with the charade knowing that they’ll be getting a tip afterwards.

I’ve never in my life seen anyone tip a rental car shuttle bus driver, but I guess if you have a lot of bulky bags that would be a nice gesture.

I realize now that I was totally uncouth at the open bar at a wedding the other day. After the third drink I said I wanted to leave a tip and asked if he had change. I realize now (and I’m not being facetious) that I could have adroitly begged his pardon and troubled him for some change.

You still did much better than the bulk of the partygoers who didn’t tip him squat.

ETA: My line is usually “Do you have fifteen you could give me?” And hand them a twenty. They somehow know I am not begging for money :slight_smile:

Not nessesarily daily, but a buck per person is about right. Sapo- you can get a bit better service if you tip as you go, especially 1st night. The place to leave the tip is on th epillow, or with a note. Otherwise they won’t touch it.

If they load your bags, a small tip is usual.

Room service- call downstairs and ask. If it is 18% is it almost certainly a tip that the server gets a share of. An extra buck wouldn’t hurt.


Take out the $20 and say “I am out of change”. and look at him with an eyebrow raised. He might well have a wad of $1’s he’d be happy to change out.

Note there is one place a bigger tip can help- and a place where few think to tip: curbside check-in. Those dudes can allow a fair amount of overwight baggage without charge, so if you bag is a little over a $5 can save you a bunch.

The only reason to give it each night (morning) is that the same staff might not work the same rooms during the whole stay. Especially if you leave on the weekend; the weekend staff person would get the haul for the week’s worth of work the other person did. If everyone tips equally I guess that doesn’t matter, but if you want to feel that you directly tipped “your” person…
“So that’s one ‘tuck’, one ‘no-tuck’.”

Well, there’s a couple of other reasons:

  1. To get the staff interested in your well-being. It can’t hurt to have them feeling protective of you if any no-goodniks are prowling.

  2. To get any benefits the house-keeping staff are able to give to people they like. By the time we checked out of our hotel in Vegas, we had enough soap and shampoo in our room to open our own tuck shop. None of it requested, just dropped off where we had left our daily tip.

I once stayed in a Bangkok hotel with the policy of two bottles of water per day. When I left a tip on the dresser each morning, I started receiving 8-10 bottles a day. I was literally pouring it down the sink so as not the offend the kindly staff who left it.

In Mexico City many years ago, we bought bottled water and left the empty bottles in the room. Housekeeping staff apparently redeemed them for the deposit.

At the price range of hotels that I frequent when I travel, good service can only mean that they are not putting on my bed the linens they just took from the room next door.

Other than flooding your stay with bottled water, what can housekeeping do to improve or worsen their service?

Extra towels. Extra mints on the pillow. More “little bottles of stuff”. Room cleaned when you want it! (within reason)

And hell, an extra bottle of water or two is very nice indeed.

I’m a cheap bastard, so please take that into account.

I’ve heard that you should tip the housekeeper, though I’ve never done it. Based on a Seinfeld episode I once saw, I’d say $2 is about right.

The rule is that if they touch your bags, you’re supposed to tip them. I travel light , and keep a death-grip on my luggage.

I’ve never ordered room service (remember the cheap bastard part), but if they add 18% to the bill, there’s no way I’m paying more than that.

$1 per bag, correct.

“Catch you tomorrow” sounds good to me.

Not really. 15% for meals, and some ones if you make the mistake of letting someone take your bags, and that’s about it.

In our case one of the hotels we stayed at had a little kitchenette in it with a sink and cooktop, etc. We weren’t cooking big meals, mainly just toast and cereal for brekky really, but our housekeeping did our washing up for us :smiley: . We found out that is obviously not the norm when we genuninely forget to leave a tip one day before heading out, and guess what, the dishes weren’t done that day :smack: We were thinking oh no, our housekeeper hates us now. But next day we left the tip again, and the dishes were done again :smiley:

I don’t know what the promised level of service was there, but there are certain basic things they should do regardless of whether you leave a tip. Forgetting a tip should not cause you to return to find beds not made, for example. In the caes of your hotel, I don’t know if kitchen cleaning is supposed to be included, or is an extra at the discretion of the housekeeper.