Surviving The Tip Conundrum

Did you ever get a bill at a restaurant, stay at a hotel, or take a taxi ride and wonder: “Wait, how much tip am I supposed to leave?” Well, you aren’t alone, it happens all the time! Being unsure about how much tip you are supposed to leave can make you feel uneasy. You are constantly worrying if you’re doing it right or if you’re offending your waiter, housekeeper, or cab driver. I think women especially suffer from this tipping conundrum. We tend to over think everything, we like to feel in control, and the confusion of what is and is not appropriate tipping can often hinder our self-esteem (at least for a few moments until you safely lock yourself away in your car, hoping your waiter won’t open your bill until you are out of the parking lot). Not knowing how to handle yourself in financial situations can make one feel inferior. I am definitely a clueless tipper (it might have something to do with my serious lack of math skills) so here are some guidelines that I found particularly helpful:

*Most importantly you must always remember that tipping is discretionary so don’t over obsess about it. If you don’t feel like a tip is appropriate or needed then don’t leave one, just be confident with your decision.

*You should always tip for good service. If you are happy with any type of service you have received, give a tip.

*If you receive poor service you should still think twice before skipping the tip. The person who is waiting on you is probably depending on that tip; you never know what personal issues/problems he or she is going through in which they need that money for. If you are really unhappy with their service, you should ask to speak to a manager and let them handle the problem and try to find it in your heart somewhere to still leave that tip (and it’s perfectly ok if you decide not to).

*Tip on the original price of your meal or service. If you have a coupon for 20% of your meal, you should still tip on what your total would have been without the discount. Your waiter didn’t go through any less trouble to get you your meal so their tip shouldn’t suffer.

*Now for the big question: how much do I tip? There are numerous predicaments that one can find themselves in where a tip is appropriate. Below I have tried to list the most common tipping instances and what standard tipping etiquette calls for in each situation:

~Holiday Tipping: At the end of the year, around the holiday season you should give an extra tip or gift to those that provide service to you all year round. Here I have found a helpful guide to help you remember who those special people are and what is appropriate to give them.


-Porter: $2 a bag

-Cart driver: $2-$3 a person

-Wheelchair escort: Depends on how far they are bringing you. $5 if they bought you from the ticket counter to gate, or gate to luggage area. Include more tip if they help you out to your car. If they bring you from one terminal to another, $10-$20 depending on the distance.


-Waiters and stewards: 15% of bill

-Porters: $1 per bag

-Sleeping car attendants: $5 per person per day

~Ground Transportation:

-Taxi, limo, shuttles, and vans: 15% of total fare (make sure tip isn’t already included), if they help you with bags then throw in a little extra

-Courtesy shuttle to a hotel: $1-$2 per bag (if they help)


*Again, make sure tip isn’t already included in the price of the room.

-Valet: $1-$3 whenever they return your car to you.

-Doorman: If he/she helps you with something other than opening the door use your discretion, $1-$5.

-Bellman: $1-$2 per bag (pay him once you get to your room)

-Concierge: $5-$10 for going out their way to help your make a reservations or get tickets to a show, etc.

-Room Service: 15-20% of the bill.

-Maid service: $3-$5 per day (tip daily because the maid might be different each day).

-Spa Personnel: 18% (if not already included)

~Bed & Breakfast:

*Most B&B’s have a no-tipping policy. Most of the time, since they are family owned, the price they ask for covers everything (just ask).

*If you notice that there is a hired house staff than follow the same guidelines as above.


-Food server: 15-20%

-Buffet: Nothing unless there is some type of service involved like drinks.

-Takeout: Nothing unless you want to (up to 10%).

-Bartender: 15-20% of total bill or $1 per drink.

*Double time: This is a concept that I personally have never thought of before but I wish I had. If you spend enough time at a table where a waiter could have gotten two parties seated and served then you should tip him/her twice, it’s only fair.

~Hair salons:

-Hair stylist: 10-20% of bill

-Manicure or facial: 15% of bill

-Massage therapist: 10-15% of bill

~Roadside assistance:

-Towing service: $5-$20 depending on circumstances/distance.

-Jump start, tire change, locked out of car: $5

Of course there are many other instances where tipping may be appropriate but these general guidelines can carry over into almost any situation. A confident tipper makes for a more confident consumer and a better time had by all. Like all other etiquette situations, don’t sweat it, do what you feel is right and stick by your decision.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!


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