Travel Tips: Everyone You Should Tip Including Tour Guide

I tip when I travel, and I tip well. Like you, I tip valet, bellmen, housekeeping, waiters, bartenders, masseuses, my hairdresser, the pet groomer, room service, tour guides, taxi drivers, butlers, casino dealers, drag queens, delivery drivers…. the list goes on.

You can now tip Uber drivers, dog walkers, tarot card readers… you get the picture. Tipping is part of the travel DNA, and you should tip anyone involved in service on your next vacation. Don’t know who to tip? Here’s our travel tipping guide to keep handy on your next trip, and for many asking how much should I tip tour guide, see below.

Do you tip this bellman?
Tip the bellman.

First, we should mention that tipping can add up, especially when you travel. On a vacation, you can spend up to $100 a day in tips alone (provided you dine out, Uber, have a cocktail, get room service, have a massage, etc), but tipping should be considered into your budget before your vacation. Plan to tip anyone that helps you out. That’s right. Part of your budget when you plan should be tips, and that will be a good 20 percent of people that you interact with when you travel.

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The origins of tipping

Tipping has been around since the 1700s, first documented in the UK (TIP is an acronym, meaning “To Insure Promptitude,” where servicemen would hope for a bonus for services rendered.).

Will you tip this tour guide?
Will you tip this tour guide? You should!

But while tipping has been popping up in nontraditional, unassuming places, it has always been part of the service industry, and the service industry is the backbone of travel. It’s part of the package.

I never questioned this until my friend and I discussed it last night. It was pointed out tipping is “optional” yet feels mandatory when you travel. While tipping has traditionally been linked with service, it’s now expected with actual performance, so I always make sure anyone I travel with knows there’s generally a travel tipping guide to follow.

You can’t walk down a street in New Orleans without someone banging on drums, writing poetry from a typewriter, doing a juggling act or painting themselves in gold, expecting a tip if you engage with them. It’s not just here, but anywhere there’s a dense concentration of tourists in any part of the world. But, again, that’s how they make their living.

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Why you should tip

Tip staff at a hotel.Travelers often feel pressure to tip without any interaction but, no matter what the service or performance is, it’s linked with travel and tourism. No one should make you feel pressured to tip and certainly not guilty if you don’t, but tipping is part of the travel DNA. While “optional,” it is an expectation and assumed. That’s how it’s been for decades.

While I can’t tell you to tip the deli guy for ringing you up, I can tell you that tipping a valet or housekeeper is part of their salary. It’s easy to identify the people you tip in travel because it almost includes everyone who offers a service or performance, especially tour guides. I do get that question a lot because it’s not so clear: How much should I tip my tour guide? Well read on below.

Rosewood DC in-room dining
Pancakes and eggs. Tip for room service!

Budget in tips when you plan a vacation. Not only does this make you feel better (and not guilty when faced with the situation), it only helps the travel industry continue to thrive.

In general, here’s how much I tip on vacation

St Regis Bahia Beach

Doorman: $10

Did a doorman help you with your bags? Feel free to tip generously. Remember, they are standing outside in inclement weather often… and on their feet all day!

Housekeeping: $2-5 a day (depending on where you stay)

If you’re staying at a top luxury hotel and receive housekeeping twice daily, tip on the higher end.

Butler/baggage: $5 – 10 depending on how much they do.

If you have a valet who takes your bags up to your room and gives you a tour of the room (including essential information you need to know), then you should tip him/her for going out of their way and spending time with you. I feel that this type of service has been on the decline post Covid-19, but they do still exist at luxury hotels.

Concierge: $10- $20 if they help with a specific request

If you ask concierge for a special request or questions about a restaurant, where to book, where to go, etc, you should definitely tip them. They will feel appreciated.

four seasons vegas concierge

Tour guide: $20 – $50 on the tour, depending on service. This is something you will feel really good about. “How much should I tip my tour guide?” is a question I get a lot. I have not only done hundreds of tours in my 15 year career as a travel writer, but I have many friends that are tour guides. Tipping not only makes their day, but it’s something that helps them. The amount of work they do is incredible Think about it. The physical activity, the mental activity, answering multiple questions, the research involved in the backend, planning trips and dietary/physical restrictions for plenty of guests. You should tip your tour guide. They do expect it.

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Room service: Usually built into the bill at 18 percent. If not, tip 20 percent.

Driver: $10 to $20 depending on length of drive and how much they do for you (luggage, give advice on sightseeing, etc)

Tip the cafe dude?
Tip the cafe dude?

Who do you tip on vacation? Do you have a travel tipping guide? Let us know in the comments below, and remember, if you’re questioning “how much should I tip my tour guide?” well now you know 🙂

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed at over 600 hotels and clocked millions of air miles. He currently lives in New York City.

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