Tipping for Summer Travel – When, Who & How Much

Tipping Etiquette when Traveling

Warm beach sands, bordered by crashing waves beneath a golden sun. Ahhhh summer vacations. Just the perfect time to skip out on the office desks piled with work and classrooms for dusty lectures, to take advantage of all longer days and steamy nights.

Tipping at Resorts

You’ve booked your tickets and made all your reservations for a killer trip, but before you pack your suitcases, I’ve got a little tip for you – be sure to plan for your travel tipping.

Though you might have a real sparkling winner of a smile, when it comes to travel, you need to be sharing your gratitude with more than just those pearly whites. Travel is a made up largely by service industry workers, so don’t get overwhelmed or stressed by the idea of tipping. I’m going to break it down for you so that you can plan ahead and know when, who and how much you should be breaking out the cash for.

Summer Travel Tipping - A Dash of Sparkle

First off, there are primarily two types of tipping groups: Traditional Service Providers and what I like to call, Hassle-Free Service Providers.

The former is made up of all those people who you purchase a service from and they then carry it out for you. For example, restaurant servers, cab and Uber drivers, sunset boating crews, etc.

The latter are called “Hassle-Free” Service Providers because they do things that you don’t directly pay for, and could likely do yourself, but their services are somehow included in larger purchases. Think valet staff, bellmen, room service and housekeepers at hotels and hospitality-type destinations.

I break these two apart because the tipping baseline is calculated differently for each.

    -Traditional Service Providers are typically paid as a percentage of their service fee. You’d tip using a baseline of 15% of the total fee for satisfying service and then scale up to 25% (or more) for most good to exceptional service experiences.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you’re tipping on the level of service they provided you while carrying out the service you paid for. Make sense?

Since you’re paying these folks at the end of an experience, go in with the best hopes (planning on a 20-25% tip) and reassess at the end. My fella and I recently took some really special excursions on a trip where we ended up adding a bit extra to our planned tips.

Stress Free Tipping How Tos

I’ve never felt bad about tipping someone more, but have definitely felt terrible about feeling like I shorted someone (usually because I didn’t plan ahead and was short on cash in the moment).

The Hassle-Free Service Providers use a baseline gratuity versus a percentage of a set fee. So you’d start with a $3-$5 per-service tip as a baseline and scale up for better or more intensive service. Now the baseline may seem low for these folks, because chances are you’ll be using their help on more than one occasion during your visit.

I will actually keep a stash of one and five dollar bills handy when I’m staying at a resort especially.

How to use cash tips on vacation - ADOS

You can tip the staff as you go this way. Some people will wait until the end of their trip to sort of tip out the various staff who helped them, but I strongly suggesting tipping as you go for the Hassle-Free Service Providers instead. They remember it more and you don’t risk missing out thanking the rock stars who helped you.

I’ve had the privilege (ahem) of working as both types of these service providers in addition to being on the receiving end of their services. I’ve seen misuse and abuse on both sides. In the U.S. a service industry worker truly does look to those tips to supplement what are likely to be pretty low regular wages. So just keep it in mind and know who you’ll be running into on your sizzling travels this summer.

Disclaimer: Some service industries, like restaurant service (including some hotel restaurants), have switched to including service charges or gratuity fees in the total bill. Meaning the tip is already included (averaging around 18%) to save you the hassle of breaking out your smartphone calculators. Some people are not huge fans of this, but I’ve worked in places that utilized this and I promise you, it’s for good reason, usually because they have a good amount of international travelers who don’t know our weird American tipping culture.

No matter where you go and what you do on your vacations and travels this season, I hope these tipping tips give you some comfort and allow you to plan accordingly!

In the end, no one wants to be stressing about tips, because we’re hopefully just having too much fun in the lush forests, sparkling waters or soft sand. Just don’t forget that similar to a sparkling smile, an appropriate cash tip with a thank you will do much more to improve those travels that not.

Happy traveling!