"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:
A 15 percent tip is considered standard in the United States. In New York, that may earn you a dirty look. (Try tipping 20 percent, or a quarter on the dollar.) New in-cab credit-card machines will do the math for you, but 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.
Tip $2-5 dollars per bag. You want your luggage to get on and off the ship, don't you?
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.
As you depart from the tour, reward a good guide by tipping 10-20 percent of the cost of a ticket. 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
Tip $1-5 dollars (on a sliding Kia-BMW scale) when you leave your car and again when you pick it up.
Tip $1 if he hails a cab for you.
Here's my rule of thumb: Tip $5 per bag in a five-star hotel and $1-2 dollars per bag everywhere else.
Tip $2-10 per day, depending again on the type of hotel.
Most hotels build in a service charge for room service. If your bill does not include one, tip 15 percent.
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
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.
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.
Tip approximately 10 percent based on the total wine bill, less if it's a an expensive vintage.
Tip $1 per drink.
Tip $1 per item.
Tip attendant 50¢-$1 per visit.
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.
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.