Broke-Ass Etiquette: Travel Tipping

Updated: Jan 18, 2011 00:15
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Q: Dear Half-Price Headliner,
I’m traveling for the holidays and never know what to tip for things like checking bags at the curb, airport shuttles, hotel housekeeping, etc. Got any tips?

A: How considerate of you to ask! Travel tipping can be a tough one, since one encounters so many people throughout a trip whose services may or may not warrant gratuity. Let’s break it down by service.

Airport Shuttle: Hopefully taking a shuttle or cab is a last resort, (after begging for a ride and taking public transport) but if not, don’t sweat it. I usually tip 18% for a shuttle service and and between 15% and 18% for a cab.  They’re probably already adding a baggage fee into the cost, so either ask, or don’t worry about it.

Skycap: I’m not even sure this service still exists at some airports, but if you’re in a hurry or feeling fancy with your non carry-ons, tip a dollar per bag when you check your luggage at the curb.

Hotel Services: This is a tricky one. You can’t swing a cat without hitting someone waiting to, well, wait on you at most hotels. While they are all very helpful, they don’t all need a tip. If someone carries your shit, hales a cab, or gets you something (a towel, extra pillow, mini-fridge) then give them a buck or two. If they answer a question or give you directions, a thank you and a smile will do (unless they go above and beyond the call of duty).

Housekeeping: This deserves it’s own category, as many people don’t know or don’t choose to tip the housekeeping staff. If you are the latter, you’re a dick. If you’re the former, I would recommend leaving one to two dollars per person, per day (depending on how messy you are).  I know it might seem like a lot, but this person is making your bed for you every day, so deal.

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Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner

Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner

Ali was born and raised in the Wholesome/Creepy capital of the world, Salt Lake City, UT. Once she was old enough to blow that pop stand she escaped to the place that was the anti-SLC: The Peoples Gay-public of Drugifornia aka San Francisco (holla 30 Rock!). You can now find her throughout this glorious city slurping Pho and scheming with her best friend Pinky doing what they do every night; try and take over the world.


  1. mh
    December 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    as someone who used to work at an inn in high school, i’d like to point out that housekeeping staff can change up on daily basis much like retail business or food service. i think the $2 is sufficient but i’d recommend tipping daily rather than at the end of the stay because it’s entirely likely that only the person that worked that last day will be collecting it.

  2. Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner
    December 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I didn’t even think of that, but it makes total sense. Edit made. Thanks for the tip!