Tips on Tipping in Florida
One noticeable difference between Britain and America is that tipping (also known as gratuities) in the States is common practice, and it’s considered rude and offensive not to tip, even if you receive bad service. Knowing who to tip and how much can be complex so we’ve put together a handy guide to as many services as we could think of.
That’s right, most service providers should be tipped, meaning it’s not just reserved for restaurant waiters and waitresses. In America, it’s customary to tip lower for poor service and higher for excellent service. Many service providers do go out of their way to offer exceptional service as they know this. When you receive bad service though, you still ought to tip, just not as well.
Many Brits don’t tip service staff in the UK as a matter of principle and some tip for excellent service. Even if you don’t agree with the principle in America, it is strongly advised you follow local customs and tip where it is expected as some staff can become irate and offensive if you do not tip.
Food and Drink
Here are some tipping guidelines for food and drink service staff.
Typically you should tip 15% to 20% for waiters and waitresses. Working this out on a bill (check) can be quite tricky especially if maths is not your strong point. The easiest way is to move the decimal point to the left one place, then double it to work out what 20% is. So, for example, on a bill of $33.54, move the decimal point to the left by one place to get $3.35, then double it to get $6.70. Therefore your tip should really be somewhere around $6 or $7.
We personally prefer to round the bill up. So for the $33.54 example, the $6.70 on top of this works out as $40.24 so we’d probably offer $40 with the words “keep the change”. It’s much easier than fumbling with quarters and cents.
Self Service Restaurants & Buffets
Surely there’s no tipping required here as you’ve served yourself? Well, that’s true except for if a waiter or waitress has fetched drinks for you, in which case it is customary to offer around $1 or $2. It really depends on your own judgement, how much the total bill comes to and how many drinks you’ve ordered. If the waiter or waitress is back and forth like a yo-yo then common sense says tip a little extra.
Bartenders should be tipped around 15% of the price of the drinks order, or usually $1 or $2, whichever is greatest. It obviously depends upon the complexity of the drink, the skills involved and whether any showmanship was offered. On a drinks order of $20 then you should be looking to tip around $3-$4 so a guide of $1 to $2 per simple drink or $3-$4 for a complex one is probably quite accurate, and much easier to work out after a few drinks!
Restrooms usually have attendants and if they do, it’s customary for them to be tipped $1 on your way out. This shows your appreciation for them keeping the facilities in a clean and decent standard.
Here are some tipping guidelines for drivers and transportation staff.
Local Bus Drivers
Where the driver is operating a community service bus that sticks to a timetable, no tip is required. This includes the Lynx buses and the iRide Trolley buses. A smile and a friendly acknowledgement is highly recommended though.
Coach Transportation Drivers
If you have booked a coach transportation trip (for example, coach transportation between International Drive and the Kennedy Space Center), it is customary to tip the driver around 10%-20% of the ticket price, depending upon how much they wow you and how comfortable the journey was.
Taxi drivers should be tipped around 15%-20% of the fare. Check that the driver hasn’t included this in the fee he or she charges you as some taxi drivers will work out the tip for you (the meter reads $50 and they ask for $60 for example).
Airport Transfer Drivers
Even if you’ve pre-booked and pre-paid for a shuttle transfer, you should still tip the driver unless you pre-paid gratuities. If you have pre-paid these, make sure you take a copy of the paperwork just in case your driver doesn’t know this. Otherwise, you should be tipping around 15% of what you paid in local currency. Therefore, if you paid £25 per person for a shared return airport transfer on a coach, this works out as around $20 each way (using the exchange rate at the time of writing) so a tip of $3 each way would be suggested. A tip of $1 a bag on top is also customary. As such, a figure of around $5 per person per leg of a shared return airport shuttle transfer would be about right.
Obviously the bigger the vehicle and the fewer people riding in it, the greater the tip should be. A stretch limousine for two people could cost around £300 return so the tip here would be around $40 each way for the pair (using the exchange rate at the time of writing).
It’s best to calculate this before you go, and have the money ready when you arrive at your hotel or the airport so that you can discreetly “thank” the driver when you arrive at your destination.
Tour Guide Drivers
If you have booked an excursion which involves some form of guided transport (a coach tour for example), it is customary to tip the driver and guide (if there is one) around 10%-20% of the tour ticket price, depending upon how much they wow you.
Hotel Courtesy Transfer Bus Drivers
As the name suggests, courtesy is a free ride. Nevertheless, it is still customary to tip the driver a couple of bucks per person as a “thank you”.
Airport Electric Cart Drivers / Wheelchair Pushers
If you are driven around the airport in an electric cart or require assistance from a member of staff to push a wheelchair around the airport, then a tip of around $2 to $3 is customary. Obviously if you’ve built up a raport with your escort and believe they took really good care of you then a $5 bill would be a good suggestion.
Further to the valet parking fee (if you have a hire car and opted for valet parking), valet parking attendants should be tipped $2 when your car is returned.
If a porter carries your bags into the hotel or up to your room then they should be tipped $1 per bag and $2 per heavy bag.
Housekeeping staff in all types of accommodations (hotels, villas, motels, apartments, etc) are often a forgotten service but should be tipped, usually by means of a simple “thank-you” note left on the bed with a few dollars on it. Use your judgement as to how much based on the size of the room and the extent of your mess. If you’re clean and the room requires nothing more than a quick spruce up then $1 per person per day is reasonable. If there’s an awful lot to do (you’re on holiday after all) then perhaps you should consider upping this closer to to around $10 per room per day.
Bear in mind housekeeping can clean hotel and motel rooms fairly quickly but it takes longer to clean a villa or apartment. As a rule of thumb, the larger the room, apartment or villa, the more time it takes to clean and the greater the tip that should be left.
Also bear in mind that a tip can influence the type of clean received in some places. Forget to tip and you’ll wonder whether housekeeping have been. Tip on the low scale and the bare basics will be done. Tip well and you’ll often find an impeccable cleaning service has been provided.
If you prefer the luxury of food and drinks being brought to you through room service then you should be tipping your server around 15% of the bill. Remember to check whether the hotel will automatically charge gratuities on room service as you could end up paying twice.
If you are staying in a top end hotel that has a doorman (or doorwoman for that matter!) then they should be tipped $1 if they hail a cab or $2 if they help with your luggage.
Many hotels offer a concierge service where you can book theme park tickets, book restaurant reservations and find out great recommendations. You should tip a few dollars for help received from your concierge. They don’t usually expect anything for advice but you should tip up to $5 for booking a dinner reservation and around $20 for booking tours, theatre tickets and theme park tickets. Bear in mind however that you’ll most likely be paying full rate for attraction tickets if you buy them from the hotel.
If you receive any form of service from a pool attendant then you should tip them a few bucks.
If you are a keen golfer then your golfing caddy should be tipped between $10 and $25.
If you indulge in a spa treatment then you should tip your therapist around 15% of the bill.
Remember that it is up to you if, and how much, to tip. As it is an American custom to tip you are strongly advised to tip wherever you receive a service, regardless of whether it was good or bad. As Americans in service industries generally expect tips, you should tip a nominal amount regardless to avoid awkwardness or tension.
Wherever possible, tip in dollar bills. It is more discreet and professional than fumbling around with coins. If needs be, you can get away with tipping in coinage inside restaurants and perhaps in taxi cabs but it’s not recommended for many other industries. Given that the smallest bill that is available is the $1 bill (unlike us Brits where the smallest note is £5) we recommend you stock up on a supply of these as they are very handy for tipping.
Also, double check if gratuities are already included in the bill. You might be a very generous person but don’t be fooled into tipping twice, unless you want to of course!