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Tip left on top of bill at an outdoor restaurant
New Africa | Adobe Stock

Tipping: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers

Knowing who to tip—along with how much to give and when you should hand over the cash—is one of the most stressful parts of traveling. We’re aiming to take the mystery out of tipping with SmarterTravel’s Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers. This guide was designed to clear up confusion around tipping the people you most commonly encounter on your travels, from waiters to hotel housekeeping. 

Tipping expectations vary significantly around the world. These guidelines are based on current US standards for tips, and will be most useful for domestic trips and US-based cruise lines/tour groups/hotel chains.

Two US dollars set beneath a white pillow on white bedsheets
ChenPG | Adobe Stock

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As soon as you enter a hotel, you might have a doorman open the door, a bellhop take your luggage, and a front desk clerk give you an upgrade. Who should you tip at hotels, and how much?

Who to Tip How Much to Tip When to Tip
Housekeeping $2-$5 per night. Daily. The same person may not clean your room each day.
Bellhop $2-$5 per bag. When your bag is dropped off in your room.
Valet $2-$5 When dropping off and picking up your car.
Concierge $10-$50 depending on service provided. After the concierge helps you, or at the end of your stay.
Doorman $1-$2 for hailing a cab. Immediately.
Front Desk Clerk Not necessary, but a $5-$20 tip could score you an upgrade. When checking in.
Room Service 15%-20% When food is delivered.
Butler 5% of the nightly room rate. At the end of your stay.


Here’s how much to tip everyone who helps you get to where you’re going, from taxi drivers to airport porters.

Who to Tip How Much to Tip When to Tip
Curbside Baggage Check $1-$2 per bag When handing over your bags.
Wheelchair Attendant $3-$5 When the attendant is leaving.
Airport Shuttle Driver $2-$5 At the end of the ride.
Taxi Driver 15%-20% At the end of the ride.


Tipping at restaurants can be really confusing. Do you have to tip if there is already a “kitchen appreciation fee”? The answer: Yes, because that fee goes toward non-tipped workers in the kitchen, so you’ll still need to tip the waitstaff. Here’s how much to tip everyone at a restaurant.

Who to Tip How Much to Tip When to Tip
Waiter/Waitress 20% At the end of the meal.
Bartender $1 per beer; $2 per cocktail. Either after every drink or when you pay your bill.


For multi-day trips, most tour companies will offer guidelines for tipping that they will share with you after booking. Here’s how much to tip on shorter tours. 

Who to Tip How Much to Tip When to Tip
Tour Guide 10%-20% total cost of tour. At the end of the tour.
Tour Bus Driver $5-$10 per person At the end of the tour.


Many cruise lines will cover the topic of tipping in their FAQ section of their website. This is where you can learn if gratuities are included in the cost of your cruise. Most cruise lines automatically add about $15-$20 per person, per day, to your onboard bill at the end of the trip to cover tips. These gratuities go into a pool that’s split between the people you’d typically tip (like waiters and housekeeping staff.) 

If an employee went above and beyond for you on a cruise, you can tip them a bit extra at the end of your voyage to show your appreciation. 

Should You Tip the Bartender on a Cruise?

Automatic gratuities are typically added on to your bill when you order drinks, so be sure to check your receipt before tipping the bartender. The same goes for spa treatments—tips are usually automatically added.

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