A camel driver tells you, “No charge to get on my camel—but five-dollar tip.” You pay, you lumber up onto the camel. Then he says, “$20 tip to get off.”

This is only a joke of course, but this kind of thing can happen. In India, you may be told one price when you hop on a rickshaw, and a totally different price when you get to your destination. This sort of “tip” may cause you to grumble, and it should.

But there are times a tip to the right person can get you far–much farther than the dollars will get you in your own hands.

Just read this account from Joe Brancatelli of Joe Sent Me:

I found myself in the bowels of the Vatican being escorted by a private guide from one sanctum sanctorum to another: rooms where the jewels and ceremonial chalices were kept; a relic cabinet storing bits of the “true cross” and “bones” of the saints; the Pope’s private elevator. I got to wave from the papal balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. I was even taken into the Sistine Chapel via a side door and given 15 minutes alone to wander.

“How do you get this kind of access?” I dumbfoundedly asked my guide, who, by the way, had parked his black Mercedes right in St. Peter’s Square.

“You make the right contributions to the right people,” he said matter-of-factly.

So, who should you tip to make sure your travel goes swimmingly? And, perhaps even more importantly–how much?

The amount you should tip varies greatly depending on where you’re traveling, and you should study up on the tipping etiquette of wherever you’re going. For instance, Japan is mostly a no-tipping zone. In New York City, not tipping a cab driver can be grounds for a yelling match.

Wherever you’re traveling, here are some people you should consider giving a tip, and why you should consider them:


If you’re traveling on business, consider getting your dress-shoes shined, and tip the shoeshine well. They’re famous for having insider information, and are in a good position to advise you should you have any questions about the destination you have landed in. They may even answer the questions you didn’t know you had.


Many people don’t tip housekeepers, but you really should tip your housekeeper, and not only because they work long hours with little pay. Leave a little money every day on your bed pillow. And if you see a housekeeper in the hallway, introduce yourself. They’ll be more likely to look out for you (and the valuables you leave behind in your room.)

The Front Desk

Joe Brancatelli not only recommends tipping the person who checks you in at the front desk of a hotel, but asking their name–and remembering it. That way, should you need anything, you can ask to speak to the person you spoke to before. Everyone likes to hear someone say their name, and especially like when someone remembers it. This can pay off big time–think special access to amenities, relaxed check-out times, and surprise room upgrades.

Tour Guides

Tip tour guides at the end of your tour, particularly if you enjoyed it. Tour guides often have connections with the locals, so it really can never hurt to be in good standing with these guys.

What has been your experience tipping on the road? Tell us in the comments.