Navigating narrow and winding roads, offering expert insight into local points of interest, dealing with tolls and parking so you don't have to – a tour bus driver is an integral part of many vacations. Having a bad one can disrupt plans or endanger your safety; a good one can elevate a trip from nice to unforgettable. Unless the driver or tour company outright refuses tips, plan to give a charter bus driver a cash gratuity at the end of the tour, whether it lasts three hours or 10 days. These full time workers often make minimum wage, and a token of appreciation from a tour group can help them continue to do what they love. Reading up about tip culture and tipping etiquette in the place you are touring is also very helpful in calculating the full tour price.
For a half- or full-day bus tour, a small tip is appropriate. Give $3 to $5 per person for half-day trips and $5 to $10 per person for a full-day excursion. For a one- or two-hour tour, $1 to $2 per person is sufficient. If the bus driver doubles as a tour guide upon reaching the destination, or if the driver goes above and beyond during the drive with their quality of service by perhaps narrating the trip and answering passenger questions, bump up the tip by 50 to 100 percent. Hand the tip directly to the driver when leaving the bus at the end of the trip.
Make an exception on free bus tours, which some sightseeing companies offer in major cities. If the trip doesn't cost anything, the driver and/or guide are working just for tips. Calculate a gratuity equal to at least $5 per person per hour of the trip, or ask the tour director or bus company to suggest an appropriate tip amount. When in doubt, give generously. Living in a large city like New York is expensive, and people working in tourism jobs depend on tips for survival, so reward their good service and hard work.
For a tour that includes overnight stops and uses the same driver each day, calculate a per-day tip and multiply it by the number of days for a total cost. So a driver who doesn't provide services other than driving might receive a $10 tip each day, totaling $40 at the end of a four-day tour. If the driver doubles as a local guide, you might decide those services warrant a $15 tip each day. Give the tip to the driver at the end of the last day. If the driver also handles loading and unloading luggage, add $1 or $2 per day for that work for their exceptional service.
Individuals or groups chartering their own buses have to budget for a hefty tip. Typically, an appropriate tip in this situation is anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of the total trip cost – so if the cost of the charter is $500, tip the driver between $50 and $100. Again, a driver who also acts as a tour guide or otherwise provides great service should receive a tip on the higher end; for a driver who does just the bare minimum, a lower tip is fine.
On a charter trip where individuals are all contributing to the tip, calculate an appropriate tip and divide it by the number of passengers. Ask everyone to contribute that amount and collect it all to give to the driver. Leaving it to each passenger to give a tip could result in the driver being shorted. The person in charge of booking the charter is responsible for making sure that doesn't happen.