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Tipping Guide Policy

Guidelines on Tipping for Travelers

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Tipping Guide Policy
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Tipping correctly can save you time, embarrassment, and especially money. So take a tip and familiarize yourselves with this guide before leaving home: It will advise you how much tipping to do in any situation.

"Here comes the extraction team," my husband jokes whenever we pull up to a resort and the parking valet, doorman, and bellman descend on us.

On your travels it may seem that everyone has their hand out at some point -- but that doesn't necessarily obligate you to guide a gratuity into it. A tip is for service rendered. A big tip is for services performed either exceptionally well or above and beyond the call of duty. And no tipping at all sends a clear message that you have been dissatisfied with the service.

Let's assume that everyone does their job properly. In that case, here are some tipping guidelines:

Cab Driver
A 15 percent tip is considered standard in the United States. In New York City, that may earn you a dirty look. (Try tipping 20 percent, or a quarter on the dollar.) In-cab credit-card machines will do the math for you, although you may find their suggestions overly generous. In London, where cab drivers study for years to learn their city, tipping 10 percent is considered generous. Go figure.

Stevedore
Tip $2-5 dollars per bag. You want your luggage to get on and off the ship, don't you?

Limousine Driver
Tipping 15-20 percent is standard, unless a service charge is included. You will be expected to pay for any tolls, but you don't have to factor their cost into the total price.

Tour Guide
As you depart from the tour, reward a good tour guide by tipping 10-20 percent of the cost of a ticket or the day's stipend. If you've had a driver with you on the tour, he gets $1-5 at the end of the day.

TIPPING AT A HOTEL OR RESORT

Parking Valet
Tip $1-5 dollars (on a sliding Kia-BMW scale) when you leave your car and again when you pick it up.

Doorman
Tip $1 if he hails a cab for you.

Bellman
Here's my rule of thumb: Tip $5 per bag in a five-star hotel and $1-2 dollars per bag everywhere else.

Chambermaid
Tip $2-10 per day, depending again on the type of hotel.

Room Service
Most hotels build in a service charge for room service. If your bill does not include one, tip 15 percent.

Concierge
It is the job of the concierge to assist guests, so it is not necessary to tip this individual. Yet if the service has been especially valuable, tipping $5-20 is reasonable.

TIPPING IN A RESTAURANT

Captain
Tip 5 percent based on the pre-tax total. However, if you are waiting in line with a reservation at a trendy, crowded restaurant, a discreetly folded $20 bill placed in the captain's palm is likely to get you seated sooner.

Waiter
Tip 15 percent based on the pre-tax total, more if the service has been good in a low-priced restaurant. Tip 20-25 percent in a fine restaurant. If a service charge is already included, only add a tip for superior service.

Sommelier
Tip approximately 10 percent based on the total wine bill, less if it's a an expensive vintage.

Bartender
Tip $1 per drink.

Coat Check
Tip $1 per item.

Restroom
Tip attendant 50¢-$1 per visit.

TIPPING AT A GOLF COURSE

TIPPING ELSEWHERE

We've all seen those signs that say "Tipping is not a city in China." Does that mean we should be intimidated into tipping someone for taking your frappuccino order, putting a donut in a bag, or even ringing up a cash register? Of course not. But if it's an establishment you frequent, it can't hurt to leave some change in the jar once in a while — particularly around the holidays.

Massage Therapist
At a hotel spa, the masseuse or masseur will expect a 20 percent tip. And remember, she or he has the power to crack bones....

NO TIPPING POLICY

What if you visit a hotel, resort, or cruise ship that has a no-tipping policy? It's up to you to abide by it. In such instances, though, I've still found it's the rare staff member who refuses a tip. Enough said.

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