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Don’t Forget to Tip: A Guide to Gratuities for Luggage Help

gratuities for luggage help

In the world of travel, there are some courtesies that are not set in stone. You can ask many people whether or not, or how much, you should tip someone who helps you with your luggage, but no one seems to agree on an amount. Do you really need to tip at all? On one hand, if you don’t really need help with your bag but are being polite, it doesn’t seem fair, but on the other, in some countries the employees really appreciate that tip. Also, if you have five full-sized suitcases, should you expect someone to manage them all without an incentive?

When I went on a cruise, I remember the pushy porter reminding us to tip him, even though we managed our own bags. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but made me think about the whole tipping system. We’ll dive into those burning questions about tipping for luggage.

Weigh in with your own opinions below in the comments!

Do I Need to Tip at All?

Not every trip might require tipping for your luggage. Consider these options before you decide whether or not to carry extra cash to tip for your luggage.

I’m Only Bringing One Bag
You probably don’t need to tip for your luggage if you’re packing light. You can carry it yourself and won’t need assistance in bringing it to your room or getting it to the plane. This is just one of the many incentives of packing light on your trips!

I’m Staying at a Nice Hotel
In my experience, even if you pack only one bag, nice hotels may want the bellhop to take your luggage to your room for you. It’s customary to tip them either way, as they’ll also get you settled in and show you details of the room. A few dollars should be acceptable.

I’m Traveling by Train
If you’re traveling by train in many destinations, especially long-haul rail journeys like the Orient Express or the Ghan, you’ll want to tip the train employees who will help you get your luggage into your cabin. The amount will vary by the country’s currency, but will be about the same as the amounts we’ve mentioned previously.

I’m Going Trekking
Don’t forget about the sherpas and other local porters who help carry your stuff to the peaks of the world’s highest mountains. If you’re booking with a tour company, they will probably tell you what to do in this situation. Otherwise, check out this guide from Lonely Planet on how to tip your mountaineering guides and porters.

I’m Packing Large or Fragile Items
Are you traveling with an instrument or surfboard? It might be worth it to tip the employee helping you a little extra. The same goes for extenuating circumstances like bad weather or over-the-top excellence of service.

I’m Going to a Specific Country
I’ve heard travelers say that when they went to India, they always paid someone to help with their bags because it’s not much money. TripAdvisor recommends “tipping about 50 rupees per bag for hotel, airport and train station porters.” The same policies apply in much of the Middle East and Africa.

How Much Should I Tip?

As we said before, the amount that you tip will vary greatly by the currency of the country you’re traveling in, but here are a few pointers for specific roles that help you with your luggage. All prices quoted are in US dollars, but can be adjusted based on currency.

Curbside baggage handlers: Unlike the check-in counters, you should tip the curbside baggage handlers because they usually have shorter lines, print your boarding passes, and then bring your luggage to the baggage desk. A few dollars per bag is sufficient.

Gate baggage handlers: Don’t worry about tipping the baggage handlers if you gate check your bag.

Flight attendant helping you put your bag in the overhead bin: Tip them nada, just shower them with your gratitude. But don’t take advantage of them! You should be able to manage your own bags.

Storing your bag for the day: If you’re checking out or waiting to check in and need to store your bags at a hotel, one dollar per bag is enough to tip. But don’t bother when it comes to hostels.

Bringing them to your room: The same goes for the amount you tip the employee who brings your bags to your room. One to two dollars is fine.

Unpacking for you: While this isn’t as common anymore, tip more unless they are a specific role in the hotel or it’s included in your stay.

Porter for cruises and trains: This varies based on bags but should be about the same amount.

When it comes to packing for your next trip, remember to bring a little extra cash to support those people that make your trip run smoothly. It’s another incentive for packing light!

Do you tip for luggage help when you travel?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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