Monday, October 22, 2012

Tipping while traveling: Tips on tips and tipless travel

With the 25% controversy raging, I thought it was time to do a little research on the topic of tips. I need help with budgeting for my trips and meals out. Is 25% now the new 20% or is that only for high-end restaurants?

Let's look at the facts if 25% is the new guideline. My meal with wine and dessert comes to $75.00. That's quite a fat check but keep in mind that wine by the glass has gone up to $18 at this high-end restaurant! So $75 is not unexpected. Now add the tip... $18.75... aww let's round it up to $20 to not appear stingy. The night out would then cost me $95. Of course, I used valet parking, so add in a recommended $5.00 (this IS a high-end restaurant). Now the meal is up to $100.

With expenses like this, you might understand why I can't afford to review restaurants on my own dime. While my reviews are objective, I do have to accept complimentary meals to get my job done. And, yes, if the tip is not included by the restaurant or resort management, I tip the wait staff myself. My so-called free meals often cost me over $25.00.

Another travel must-do is tipping the person who removes your bags from your car at a hotel and places them in your room. How much to tip? It is recommended that you tip $1.00 to $2.00 per bag. You also need to tip the skycap at the airport at curbside check-in... $1.00 to $2.00 per bag. I keep a stack of $1.00 bills in my wallet when I travel.

Tipping is complex. Tipping is NOT optional. CNN Money has a great little tip guide. It may be out of date, however, if 25% is the new 20%!

Here are some tips from another source with explanatory video on various amounts you should be tipping and their rationale. And, this blogger provides information on international tipping.

Tipless Travel
My tip? If you can't stomach all this tipping and haven't worked it into your budget, travel on the cheap. No tips are required for:
- Self-schlepping your bags to the airport counter for check-in.
- Buying take-out meals at counters or shopping at the supermarket (even if there is a tip jar).
- Insisting on taking your bags to your hotel room yourself.
- Using the hotel parking lot vs. valet parking.
This is a real cheapskate way to travel, but then I am a travel writer!

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