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U.S. travelers tend to over-tip on vacation, expert says

How much should you tip a taxi driver

How much should you tip a taxi driver when traveling? Credit: AFP / Getty Images

The summer vacation season is in full swing. You’ve vowed to spend less this year. One thing to keep in mind is tipping. You don’t want to be cheap, but you don’t want to bust your budget either.

“Of all the travelers in the world, U.S. travelers tend to over tip,” says Robert Goldstein, a travel agent with Protravel International in Manhattan.

  • Get advice: “Ask your travel professional for advice on the local custom,” says Kim Reicherter, a travel agent with Tzell Travel Group in Manhattan, or look it up online. In some countries like Japan, tipping is not expected and can be considered insulting. In Europe, a service charge is often already included in your restaurant bill.
  • Who to tip: Drivers, guides, valet, bellman, concierge, housekeeping and waiters, she says. For drivers, think 10 percent to 20 percent of the bill, same goes for guides, says Reicherter. Five dollars is sufficient for a valet, $10 for a bellman, and the same for a concierge at a luxury hotel, “if it was a simple dinner reservation, but if you are working them for tickets and a super difficult dinner reservation, $50-$100.” Wait staff is typically 15 percent to 20 percent of the tab. Be sure to check the bill, many restaurants add the gratuity.
  • How much to budget for tips: “This depends on many factors, including the type of travel, length of trip, group or individual, how many hotels you’ll be visiting and knowing in advance what’s inclusive and what isn’t,” says Goldstein.

He says sometimes it’s OK not to tip. When? “If your guide or driver had negative energy or an attitude, it’s certainly OK not to tip.”

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