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Your bags are packed and you’re counting down the minutes until vacation starts. The only thing left on your to-do list is to figure out if you need to bring cash tip money on your all-inclusive trip.
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On the surface, it might seem like you can leave your wallet at home for this vacation, but that’s probably not the case.
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“Even when staying at an all-inclusive and taxes and gratuities are included, it is important to reward good service when you see it,” said Lauren Doyle, president of boutique travel agency The Travel Mechanic, a member of Ensemble Travel Group.
For example, she said if you’re hanging out at the bar for a long period of time or enjoy beachside waiter service, it’s nice to tip, and doing so will typically get you better service.
“Head to the bank and get $20 worth of singles, so [you’ll have] no stress having to break higher bills,” she said. “Most all-inclusives accept U.S. dollars for tipping purposes.”
She also emphasized the importance of remembering to properly tip any employees not associated with your all-inclusive resort — i.e., an airport limo driver or anyone who takes you on an offsite excursion.
Dr. Terika Haynes, owner of Dynamite Travel, a five-star rated luxury travel consultancy, also recommended tipping extra at an all-inclusive resort.
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“Tipping the staff helps them to earn the wage that they truly deserve,” she said.
As for how much to tip, she suggested the following.
- Bellman: $5 per bag or $5 per request if they call you a taxi
- Housekeeping: $5 per day if they visit once per day, $10 per day if they visit more than once per day and/or provide turndown service, and at least $10 per day if you’re a messy traveler or one with lots of requests
- Restaurants: $2 to $3 per person in your party
- Bartenders: $2 to $3 per interaction
- Concierge, excursion planners, etc.: $5 per interaction at minimum
Of course, these all-inclusive tipping guidelines are just suggestions. You’ll need to use your own discretion when deciding how much to tip — or if you should even tip at all.
“There are some countries where tipping is not expected or even welcomed,” Haynes said. “So I do encourage travelers to research their vacation destination and the customary tipping standards before traveling.”
Some all-inclusive resorts also have their own policies regarding tipping. For example, the Sandals website specifically notes that all tips beyond personal butler service, spa personnel, tour operators and airport transfer drivers are included in your fee.
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The last thing you want is to make an employee feel uncomfortable because they’re not allowed to accept your tip or get them in trouble for insisting they take your tip.
This further underscores the importance of conducting research beforehand on your resort’s tipping policies.
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One of the best things about going on a cruise is that once you step foot on the ship, everything you need has already been paid for. Of course, you can always upgrade, but baseline meals and activities are included in your rate.
However, you’re not sure if you need to bring cash to tip the hardworking people making your vacation a reality. Generally speaking, you will need to tip, but policies vary by cruise line.
For example, Royal Caribbean adds an automatic service gratuity of $14.50 per person, per day for guests in Junior Suites and below or $17.50 per person, per day for guests in Grand Suites and above. Additionally, an 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items and spa and salon purchases.
Disney Cruise Line also suggests a $14.50 per night, per person gratuity for guests staying in staterooms and $15.50 per night, per person for guests staying in Concierge Staterooms and Suites. If you don’t pre-pay it in advance, this fee will be added to your account, as well as an 18% gratuity for bar, beverage, wine, deck service tabs and spa services.
On the other hand, Seabourn takes the opposite approach.
“Tipping is neither required, nor expected,” according to the company website.
Therefore, it’s important to know the tipping standards for the cruise line you choose before setting sail. This will allow you to properly tip without inadvertently leaving double gratuities.
It might not seem like a big deal to you, but tips are an important part of many workers’ wages. These people are responsible for making your all-inclusive vacation magical, so it’s only right to make sure you’re tipping them appropriately.
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About the Author
Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.