Being an adult at a restaurant, in a hotel or at the airport means, among other things, understanding how to tip.
What’s confounding is that, like so many social trends, tipping is different in different places — you’d absolutely tip 20 percent or more in a New York City sit-down restaurant, but more like 15 percent someplace less urban.
As general rules, The Emily Post Institute suggests the following:
- 15-20% for a sit-down restaurant, typically on the pre-tax amount.
- 10% for staff at a buffet or where there is counter-service
- $1-$2 per drink for bartenders, or 15-20% of the tab
- $2+ for valet
- 15-20% for taxi drivers
- 15-20% for personal services, like nails or haircuts
- $1-$2 per bag for anyone helping you with your luggage
- $2-$5 per night for hotel housekeeping
- As preferred for your local barista
Still, there are exceptions. Some restaurateurs have forgone tipping altogether in favor of higher, all-inclusive menu prices. Point-of-sale payment programs and the myriad sharing economy apps on our phones often suggest tips that push higher than what Ms. Post outlines.
When in doubt, ask (discreetly). No one will begrudge a college student for tipping on the lower end of acceptable, but a sense of generosity, and the overall understanding that tips serve a purpose, are what often make up for low base pay in service economy jobs with few if any benefits.