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How much do you tip a tour guide on an escorted tour?

How much do you tip a tour guide on an escorted tour?

Apr 21st, 2005, 11:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 9
How much do you tip a tour guide on an escorted tour?

I'm thinking of going on a 14 day escorted tour to Ireland. The tour will include almost everything (except a few dinners and lunches) but does not include tips for the tour guide and bus driver. Tips are supposed to be optional but of course are expected. There will be six of us and the tour will cost over $18,000.00. I read in one of these threads that the tips should be around $6.50 per person per day for the tour guide and the same for the bus driver. Do they not pay these people? That's $936.00 for 12 days (I'm not counting the 2 days in air) That just seems excessive to me considering what we are already paying for the tour. Am I wrong? Do families of 6 (there will be 4 adults) really pay nearly $1000.00 just in tips??? What are people REALLY giving as tips? Thanks!
KarenO is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 03:49 AM
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A tip is a reward given to someone for providing you with good service. The amount of the tip is dependent on how good the service was. How can you possibly determine the amount of a tip before receiving the service? To decide upon the tip before receiving the service is to treat the tip as a fee that you are obligated to pay. In short I don't understand the question at all.

What am I missing here.

Larry J
LarryJ is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 03:58 AM
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Larry J- I think KarenO has asked a pretty straightforward question. Of course you don't know exactly what your experience is going to be before you take a trip like this,but most people would need to budget for such an expense and would need to have a range of options in mind before going.I'm sure some people who have been in your position,Karen,will come up with some helpful advice,although most Fodorites are DIY'ers.
massagediva is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:03 AM
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I think your question is pretty clear also. Although I don't know what the "going rate" on tipping for tours is I do think that $936.00 is a lot, especially considering you just paid $18,000.

I am sure you will get more advice but I suggest that you go on your trip, enjoy yourself, and then decide what tip you think is most fitting based on the quality of the services you received.

Have a wonderful time.
PJI is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:10 AM
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The compnay providing the tour will most likely discuss tipping in its pre-trip materials and will let you know the normal range for a tip for the guide. How much you choose to tip, probably somewhere within the suggested range, will depend on your own feelings about the guide and the the circumstances of the particular trip.
cmt is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:26 AM
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Of course tipping is for the services provided even if expected. However, I use $5/day for the guide and $3/day for the driver. Though for the latter, remember this is the person that sees to your safety on the roads and can justifiably receive more.

From these amounts, I give more or less based on the actual service received. Does the guide go out of his/her way with special requests, assist in negotiating prices if making purchases, recommends great restaurants, and so on.

When planning a trip anywhere, you have to take more into consideration more than the cost of the trip itself - tipping is one, extra meals, extra tours, even Visa fees, immuizations, medications, etc... and your souvenirs. While a number of these don't relate to a visit to Ireland... you have to include all the possible extras when making your decision as to where to travel.

Of course these tour guides and drivers get paid, have their hotel and meals taken care of... though this can be different in different countries. But these are "service" jobs - so tipping goes along with such positions.

Whether a family of 6 or a couple or a single traveler - these extras have to be considered regardless that you are already paying for an escorted tour. I guess you're just going to have to figure another $900+/- in tips.
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:33 AM
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Hi karen,

The amount of the tip is about 6% of the cost.

Would you tip a waiter 6%?

ira is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:38 AM
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In my opinion, $900 is a lot of money--too much, you are calculating the tip per individual rather than the group, aren't you?

First, you are a single party. You should NOT tip as though you were all individuals (or couples) going on an escorted tour. A better rule of tipping for this instance could be that for each FULL day a driver or guide would be tipped $20 - $30 for the ENTIRE group, depending upon the type and quality of service rendered. A guide or driver for a half-day would receive about $15.

The service people working your group realize it is a group--not a collection of individual payors. That is a completely different kettle of fish. I would, however, make sure you are all on the same page about the trip, and that you do not have members who will demand extra stops not on the intinerary, different restaurants than those planned, etc. Those are the headaches that make the tips very important.
kswl is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:39 AM
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You can:

- go with a shorter tour
- cut a few people in your group
- don't join a tour

I don't see how the cost of the tour has anything to do with this.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:43 AM
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I disagree with kswl. The "tip" is the a major part of the income of the tour guide and driver. If they have 30 people on the tour, they expect to get the tips from 30 people. If you follow kswl's logic, then they will earn less if the 30 people are from just 2 big families of 15 people each. How fair is that?

Hey, in the US, many restaurants put a mandatory service charge for groups of 6 or more, specifically to protect the servers of the income for serving big groups.

People should think from the other side. The guides and drivers are professionals doing a full-time job. If you don't want to pay, don't use their service.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:46 AM
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Rkkwan, this is not a tour she has joined, this is a single family group traveling together. Also, tipping is usually considered as a percentage of the total cost---until the cost reaches a certain amount. Common sense tells you there is a ceiling amount beyond which you wouldn't pay. The service rendered just wouldn't be that valuable.
kswl is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:52 AM
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>A better rule of tipping for this instance could be that for each FULL day a driver or guide would be tipped $20 - $30 for the ENTIRE group,..<

That's $30 for six people compared to
6 * 6.50 = $39.

The difference is $125, split among 6 people = $20 pp or about $1/day.

Sounds sort of trivial to me.

ira is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:03 AM
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Not if you're tipping $30 for an excellent job by a person who really goes out of his or her way, and $20 as a general rule.
kswl is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:17 AM
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What's the difference between people travelling as single/couple or as a group?

If say 2 people from the "group of 6" don't come down for breakfast at the designated time, is it the tour guide or KarenO who responsible to go find them? Or should the guide say "oh, I see KarenO here, that means her party must be all here"?

Doesn't the driver need to count all the bags within KarenO's group when loading luggage onto the coach still, or doesn't the driver need to stand by the door to help KarenO's group when they get on and get off the coach?

BTW, most tour companies will say in their brochure what their suggested tip is. It may be more than $6.50 x 2 per person per day, may be less. She needs to check and find out. And no, if the service is not up-to-par, then she should complain, and if necessary cut the tip. But right now she's just "thinking" about joining a group and already thinking the tip is excessive.

Anyways, put the tip into the budget. It's a $19,000 for 6 people for the tour, for example. If she thinks that's too much, then do something else.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:34 AM
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Karen--Just want to say you deserve credit for THINKING about this ahead of time. People tend to have a very hard time by the end of the trip tipping these people if they have not mentally budgeted this possible cost.

I think Sandi's yardstick is rather good. If someone really goes out of his way, increase. If the value added is poorer, decrease. On one trip we took, we decreased our per person payment to the guide because he added no value and we then gave his "share" to the baggage handler who went out of his way on four separate occasions to make our trip better.

Once again, getting over the sticker shock now is so helpful. We truly believe in paying for service, but mentally adding that amount in at the end of a trip when we've exceeded our budget for everything else is extremely difficult. You deserve a lot of credit for thinking ahead.
Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hi Karen

We had this issue come up on our Trafalgar tour. Our tour director came up with a suggested amount. At around 20% of the tour cost I thought this was ludicrous. The rest of the passengers thought so too. We more or less agreed on what the range of amounts to tip. At the end of the tour I gave the tour director the tips in two sealed envelopes - one for him and one for the driver. This way I avoided any awkwardness.
worldinabag is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:37 AM
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General guideline: $10/day per tour worker from EACH person in the tour group OR 5% of total base costs divided among the workers. In this case, 2.5% to guide and 2.5% to driver ($900 total tip for the group of six). The tipping is done per person on the tour, so all 6 people should tip if you tip.
FYI, unfortunately, many tour companies all over the world take into consideration tips from the tour participants and thus give their workers a much lower salary. As a result, these tips are highly appreciated as many workers are dependent on them (not unlike the restaurant waitstaff in the US). And they most often will work very hard for them.

The few group trips I've done, all tour workers did an outstanding job and more than deserved their tips.
nibblette is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:42 AM
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Here's how it works on Cosmos tours:

After you confirm your tour, they'll send you a booklet with all the information. In there, it has a suggestion of the daily tip amount. It probably depends on where you're going, but in Europe, I believe they suggest US$3 to US$5 per person per day for the tour guide, and the same for the driver.

Now, Cosmos is a cheaper tour than what you're cosidering. Their Europe tour is usually about $100 a day, so a 14-day tour is about $1,400; and even including airfare it's about $2,100.

So, if you go with the upper suggested amount, or $10 per day per person, which percentage-wise is lower than your $13 per day per person on a $3,000 14-day tour.

And they hand you an envelope on the last day of the tour. So, if you're unhappy about the service, you can definitely give less.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 08:26 AM
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KarenO - to answer your question, "Do they not pay these people?", the answer is no, or not very much.

Trafalgar Tours has a BB and there are numerous heated discussions about this topic. You might want to check out the following, as it might answer some of your questions:

kamahinaohoku is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 10:50 AM
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KarenO, don't worry, about 2-4 weeks before the tour starts you will get a package in mail with everything spelled out, including amount of tips expected which will look approximately like this:

recommended tips for tour guide $3-$5 a day, for bus driver $2-$4 a day.

So you will see how much you like them. Take 2 envelopes from home, and give them on the last day of the tour.

Last time on the tour of New England (Boston area) for 8 days tour some people gave only $20! So don't feel bad if you downsize it a little.

I didn't like the tour guide, but thought the driver was outstanding, so I tipped him more. It's all up to you.
FainaAgain is offline  

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