Tips on Tipping


I used to be one of those people that would walk into my hair salon, get a great cut and then dread going home. Every time I’d get to the front reception desk I’d fidget and play with my keys, take them out of my purse, put them back in. I’d play with the stuff in my wallet as if I had nothing better to do with my time. I dreaded having to figure out the tip.

Whenever I’d go to a restaurant and was buying, I’d fret anxiously over the bill, and it wasn’t because of the price. I’d stare at the receipt with a smirk plastered on my face trying to figure the tip out. Sometimes I wished the service would be terrible and that would make my tipping decisions better.

How much are you really supposed to tip? Who do you tip? When do you tip? It’s a confusing mish-mash of etiquette and sociology. Was I destined to remain a tipping fool?

I was experiencing this dilemma at a ritzy Los Angeles Spa a few years ago. I’d combined a few services and enjoyed them all — what was I going to do for a tip? Thank goodness the receptionist asked if I wanted to add a 20% tip to my total charge. “Oh, yes!” I replied a little too enthusiastically. The owner, who had also given me a facial, came up to me and asked if I had a relaxing experience. Of course I had, couldn’t she tell? What she noticed was the stress on my face when I was ready to pay. I was completely embarrassed, apologized profusely and explained to her what was wrong.  She laughed and held me gently by my shoulders and gave me some advice I have never forgotten.


Always make sure you have small dollar bills when you travel. Skycaps are incredibly helpful and can save you a lot of aggravation and time. Skycap tip: $2 or more per bag — I generally tip $5 a bag.

Shuttle driver for hotels/resorts/car rental: $2 or more per bag when they assist you with luggage.


In college I was a terrible tipper. When pizza was delivered, I wouldn’t give the driver anything. Drivers probably hated coming to the campus. Pizza delivery driver: $2 or more, depending on how many pizzas he is delivering and how far he had to drive.

Appliance or furniture delivery: $5-10 a person. Just think of how much back pain you’ve saved yourself from not having to move these items yourself!

Flowers: $1-5 per delivery. If the delivery are large bouquets or heavy plants, tip $5 or more.

Take-out: 5-10%, especially if someone helps me to my car or gives me good service by throwing in utensils, extra condiments and lots of napkins.

Hair Salon

I love going to get my hair cut. I always feel renewed and like I can recreate the style once I get home (which rarely happens, but I try to stay optimistic). If you’re like me and your hair stylist shampoos and conditions your hair, then cuts and blow dries it, give your stylist anywhere from a 10% to 20% tip.

If there are several people who work on your hair, divide your 20% tip in half — 10% for the stylist (person who cuts your hair) and 10% for everyone else.


This is another place travelers fail to tip. If you experience good service, tip the following people:

Bellhop: $10 ($2-5 if he shows you aspects of your room such as how to operate the TV and order movies, the thermostat, etc).

Concierge: $5-10. If they score you excellent seats to Spamalot, then be more generous, because you probably could not have gotten those seats without their help.

Maid: $3-5 a night. if you’re staying longer consider a higher tip, but it does not need to be more than $10 a night.


Since I frequent restaurants, I’ve come across all sorts of maître d’s and waiters. Many are great, too many are terrible, and a few have warranted me to leave no tip. I’m not a difficult customer, but when I have to ask another waiter (not waiting on our table) to ask our waiter for a refill of drinks after waiting half an hour, it’s nerve-racking. This is waitstaff 101.

Bartender: 15-20% of entire bar bill. I give a little extra when the drinks are especially good.

Maître d’: $20 and up. There have been some occasions where I have spoken with the maître d’ of a restaurant about getting a special table or assistance with a cake or some other special request.  I am very well taken care of and make sure to give them a tip to let them know I appreciate their efforts to accommodate my requests.

Restroom attendant: $1

Valet: $2-5.

Waiter: 20%. If service was exceptional, then tip more.

Taxi Cabs

This is a tip that many people overlook or just plain ignore. If your driver has been helpful and is knowledgeable about getting to your destination in quick, but safe manner, tip 10-20% of the total fare. If you’re going to give the driver a bunch of spare change, keep it in your pockets instead.  If the driver also helps with your luggage tip him $1 for each bag.

I always tip people whose services I’m more than satisfied with, especially my hair stylist and masseuse. I also tip generously to a great waiter, because it’s so rare lately that I come across great service at a restaurant. These are people I usually see quite often throughout the year and it’s through their services that I’m able to live my life.

These are not the 10 Commandments of tipping. This is simply a guide to help you gauge how much you should tip. I will reiterate this fact again, never feel obligated to leave a tip, especially if you are not satisfied. A tip is a gratuity. In this case, don’t tip and then talk with either the manager or the person whose work you are not satisfied with. Businesses want to retain their clients and spread the word about them. They want to avoid any negative feedback.

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