Roadtrip USA: The ultimate guide to tipping stateside

Tipping, for me, was one of the more difficult tasks to get my head around when travelling America, it’s compulsory to tip almost everyone over the pond. Being typically British, the art of tipping is somewhat more relaxed. If we enjoy our meal, we tip, if we don’t, we don’t, quiet simple.

How to avoid the embarrassment of under tipping.

As a general rule I tip almost everyone, although I still hold my British stances on my choice of percentage I leave. My tips are purely based on my experiences when travelling America, along with a little insider help.

Waiter/Waitress: Most bill’s outline the acceptable percentages to leave. 15% is the minimum tip to leave in a restaurant, this should only be left if poor service is experienced/ 18% is advised for general experience / 20% should be left for a very good experience. It’s important to show appreciation to your server so if you feel the meal & service were above your expectations you are free to leave upwards of 20%.



Taxi: 15% is the recommended for a taxi, although if you find a helpful guy then he wouldn’t turn down 20%. Make sure when you give over a note you ask for the amount you want back to avoid any confusion of them thinking the additional is their tip.

Food to go: the likes of Starbucks & Deli’s don’t hold their hands out for tips but you’ll find a tip jar on almost every counter, this is one of the only opportunities you will get to hand over some loose change.

Bartenders: This differs depending on the type of bar. Generally I would leave $1 per drink in places like Miami but in Las Vegas around $2.
Note: handing over between $2-5 per drink in Vegas ensures your bartender continues a great service.

Doorman: $1 per bag for your hotel doorman, if your doorman hails you a cab be sure to offer a further $1 for that service too!

Most don’t appreciate a handful of coins too, again something I didn’t quite understand as the art of tipping in Britain is off loading loose change. This is probably one of the many reasons why America have clung onto the one dollar bill.

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6 thoughts on “Roadtrip USA: The ultimate guide to tipping stateside

  1. caroline says:

    This is great. I’m always trying to figure out how much to tip or whether it’s even appropriate!

  2. Megan says:

    As an American who has lived in and served in several countries, including the US, it is extremely important to understand why tipping your server is essential. In other countries, take Australia for example, your server is earning a good hourly wage, in the States, this is not the case. There is no minimum wage for servers. When I served in the States, I made $2.13 per hour, which was taxed. That always amounted to a $0 paycheck. I, and all other servers in th US, rely solely on tips to make our wage. In addition, what most people don’t know is that regardless of the tip you leave for your server, they still have to tip out a certain percentage of their sales to the bar, and sometimes a hostess or food runner. If you do not leave a tip or a shitty one, your server has literally just paid to serve you. Realistically, you should never tip less than 18% so your server receives at least 15% after tip out. Unless you’ve had a truly miserable experience because of your service, then tipping less is acceptable.

    • RebekahEsme says:

      Thank you for this Megan, it’s great to know. Living in England we do have a minimum wage for servers and tips are purely extra’s for onto of a stable pay check. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to my post, it’s great to get local feedback and I want to ensure anyone visiting the USA is clear in the key areas where tipping is essential.

      As always, I base my posts on my own experiences.

      Thank you again! Rebekah x

  3. […] They tip! EVERYONE! See here, my guide to tipping in the […]

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