Tipping While Traveling – What’s the Right Price?

A few weeks ago, the president and CEO of Hilton, Christopher Nassetta, made international news when he mentioned at a hotel industry conference in New York City that he doesn’t tip housekeeping.


Admittedly, I find tipping to be a very complex subject.

Failing to give a tip after dining at a restaurant, taking a cab ride, or getting help from a porter is a big no-no in the U.S. However, did you know that tipping isn’t a commonplace practice in every country.


In some countries, like Australia, tipping is not common and it can even make recipients a bit uncomfortable. China doesn’t have a tipping culture, either. And in Japan (one of my favorite countries), tipping is actually frowned upon because good service is standard and expected. However, in my experience traveling through Japan, individuals that are connected with the tourism industry do appreciate a discrete tip.

Additionally in the U.S, it’s fairly standard to tip 15 – 20% for most services but some countries only expect a 5% tip, and other countries expect nothing at all.


Tipping is extremely personal. After all, most of us want to thank the right people for great service. So, who deserves a tip — and how much should you give?

  • Do you tip the yellow-cab taxi driver? Do you tip an uber/lyft driver?
  • Do you tip an airport curbside porter? Do you tip the airline check-in agent inside the aiport?
  • If you decline housekeeping during your hotel stay, do you tip?
  • Do you tip the valet EVERY TIME they retrieve your car? Does the price of the tip change if you have to retreive your car 10 times in one day?
  • Do you tip airline employees (e.g. flight attendants)?
  • Do you tip a hotel concierge for suggesting a great restaurant? How about suggesting the closest coffee shop?

At this point, who isn’t receiving a tip?


Recently, my wife and I stayed at a Kimpton in Nashville for two nights and we had two choices:
1) self park for ~$30/night (with no in-and-out privileges)
2) valet park for ~$40/night

I thought those prices were fairly expensive, but I expected to leave the property a few times during our stay so we selected valet parking.

After checking-in and placing our luggage in our room, we returned to our car 10 minutes later to depart and grab dinner. We returned to the hotel an hour later, once again valeting our car.

An hour after valeting the car we decided to leave the hotel property once again for a quick janut to get dessert. Again, we returned to the hotel a few hours later.

Shortly before turning in for the night, we discovered that we had forgotten some supplies for our infant so we, again, requested our car and made a quick trip to Target.

Typically, we don’t leave the hotel as much as we did. However, the second day, we may have requested our car 5 or 6 times throughout the day. So here is the question…how many times should I have tipped the valet? How much should I have tipped them each time? And should the price per night (~$40) have an effect on how much I should pay them?


Tipping can be a personal and complex subject, particularly, if you’re traveling in a foreign country.

If you’re really unsure what’s customary, feel free to ask around or err on the side of being overly generous.

Note: If you answered “No, I don’t tip flight attendants,” you may be surprised the next time you fly Frontier Airlines. Frontier recently implemented an inflight tipping program and you will be prompted to add a gratuity after your beverage purchase.

What’s your take on tipping?

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