Here's our comprehensive look at the best ways to travel: how to find a deal, avoid lines, pack, fly, tip, and more.
PART TEN: TIPPING
It's good karma
In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to tip if you were already paying a service charge (as is the case with coat-check clerks and room-service waiters). Too bad the world ain't perfect. When in doubt, you should err on the side of generosity. It's more common to regret undertipping than overtipping.
Customs vary from country to country
If you read only one part of a guidebook before arriving someplace, make it the part on tipping. Then flag it: You'll be revisiting it.
Tipping the boat
On most cruise ships, tips are automatically added to your bill. There's leeway to tip more or less--but if you'd like to reduce the service fee, you'll probably have to explain your reasons to the purser. Don't be afraid to have that conversation: The cruise line should want to know when its passengers are disappointed.
General rules for tipping in the U.S.
Bellmen: Figure $1 or $2 per bag. It's fair to show yourself to the room if you'd rather not deal.
Housekeepers: Some folks think you don't have to tip; some believe you should tip daily to make sure the money goes to the person who cleaned your room; some wait until the end of the stay. A couple of bucks per day won't mean as much to you as it will to the housekeeper. (But don't tip at B&Bs if the maid is also the owner.)
Concierges: Giving you directions is part of the job. Snagging a theater ticket or restaurant reservation merits at least $20.
Waiters: Under 15 percent means you didn't like the service. Don't worry about the sommelier; let the restaurant determine how to divide up all the tips.
Taxi drivers: Tips should be 15 to 20 percent, or around one dollar for every five dollars of fare. Round up to the nearest buck. No one likes to deal with change.
The previous 104 rules are all well and good, but ultimately, the quality of your travel experience depends a lot on who you deal with. Treating everyone--even the crabbiest crabs--with kindness and respect can be more powerful than any strategem. You never know: In your next life, you may come back as a TSA agent.