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The traveling tipper

Created date

February 21st, 2012

Preparing for vacation is enough to make your head spin: traveler s checks, airline tickets, security lines. But one thing that usually goes unnoticed is tipping. Overlooked though it is, travel tipping is actually a world of etiquette unto itself. Recently, the Tribune spoke with Texas-based tipping expert and etiquette guru Diane Gottsman to learn about it. The rules of tipping while on vacation can be fairly complicated and confusing, says Gottsman, who is the founder of the Protocol School of Texas. Just a few basic travel tipping guidelines can save you the headache and expense of over tipping or tipping when you don t have to. According to Gottsman, questions about travel tipping most often have to do with airports and hotels and the myriad of service providers that vacationers meet along the way.

At the airport

Generally speaking, those who assist you with your luggage are the ones you should be tipping at the airport. If, for instance, you park your car at an offsite lot and plan to use a shuttle bus to get to the terminal, it s good practice to provide the driver with $1 $2 per bag. The same goes for skycaps outside the airport. If he or she assists you in carrying your luggage to the ticket counter, $1 $2 per bag will help ensure that you part friends.

On arriving at your hotel

If you drive to your hotel, the first person to consider is the valet. Unless he helps you with your baggage or you give him special instructions, you don t tip the valet until he delivers your car (meaning the next time you leave the hotel). Depending on the level of service provided, the general rule for a tip here is $3 or more. And just like the skycap at the airport, your bellhop should get $1 $2 per bag.

During your stay at the hotel

There are three key areas of service that you should keep in mind throughout your stay at the hotel: housekeeping, room service, and concierge. Housekeeping is probably the most overlooked of services and normally deserves a tip of around $3 a day or more based on how well they do their job. Room service is a bit simpler. Just apply the rule that you use at most restaurants 15% of whatever your bill is. Finally, there s the concierge. If he or she makes a simple dinner reservation, a warm thank you is all that s necessary. For taking the time to discuss in detail your restaurant options or if he or she points you in the direction of a quiet, less touristy establishment, a $5 tip is a nice gesture. And if a concierge really goes the extra mile and gets you hard-to-find tickets to the theater, think about $20. Arm yourself with dollar bills, and you can t go wrong. To learn more, visit the Protocol School of Texas online at