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How to Tip

illustration of one man handing another money, by Michael Klein, image
Photo caption
When you travel, make sure you have small bills so that you can tip drivers, guides, and waiters.

Start every trip with a stack of crisp singles, says Carrie Rosten, coauthor of The Itty Bitty Guide to Tipping. Of course, everyone should reward great table service with up to 20 percent of the check (pretax). What else? Be sure to tip whenever:

  • You're transported Hand the airport shuttle driver $2 to $3 after a $15 trip, especially if you accepted help with your bags. Skycaps get $2 a suitcase, more for large luggage; the taxi driver, 15 to 20 percent.
  • You're escorted For a guide who teaches you to tie the perfect trout fly, add 15 to 20 percent to the excursion fee. Tip city tour guides $3 for a half day, $5 for a full day (yes, for each tour taker). For a private walking tour, tip $10 a person.
  • You're tickled A pianist triggered fond memories? Show appreciation by slipping $2 or $3 into the tip jar. Make it a five if you request a song.
  • You're touched For hotel hair stylists, masseuses, and manicurists, tip 15 percent, 20 percent in your room. A fine shoeshine warrants $2 or $3.
  • You're pampered Thank the staff that fluffs your pillows and restocks your minibar with $2 to $5 a night, on departure. For bellmen, make it $1 to $3 a bag. Pool attendants and ski valets merit $5 a day. Splendid service? Drop the manager a note.
  • You're plied At the bar, tip $1 to $3 a round when paying cash. If running a tab with plastic, add 15 to 20 percent to the pretax check. Leave $10 to $20 if the sommelier finds a special bottle.

Illustration by Michael Klein

This article was first published in November 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.