Why You Should Skip Tipping When Staying At An Airbnb

Tipping is a great way to show appreciation for services. It's a courteous thing to do and a way to thank service staff for taking care of you. While it's common in daily life, tipping comes up even more while traveling, simply because it's a time when you're likely eating out more, visiting bars, and interacting with valets, drivers, and housekeeping. Tipping is never required; it's a discretionary practice, but it's part of good etiquette and is a vital part of many people's incomes.

Tipping customs also vary from country to country, so it's wise to do a little research before traveling to foreign parts; you want to make sure you're not unknowingly neglecting attendants and waitstaff or, in other cases, overpaying in a situation where someone isn't expecting a tip. Different travel venues also come with particular etiquette around tipping. For example, you should tip at all-inclusive resorts and it's good practice to carry small bills with you since you've likely paid for the room and food ahead of time.

Where travelers can get a little fuzzy is in the realm of Airbnbs, since the homestay experience is relatively new in the world of travel accommodations. Many travelers wonder what the best etiquette is when it comes to tipping Airbnb hosts. The answer is no, you don't have to tip them, but there are other ways of showing appreciation. 

Airbnb hosts set their own rates, so there's no need to tip

There's no need to tip your Airbnb host because they're not technically service staff. While they may go above and beyond to make your stay amazing, they're essentially hosting you in their home rather than filling the role of support personnel. Unlike hotel housekeepers, Airbnb hosts control their own prices and are able to factor in the necessary costs of supplies and amenities to host guests at a profit. Many do charge a cleaning fee, which the host also controls. In some cases, the host cleans the apartment themselves or they hire cleaners and are responsible themselves for the payment and potential tips of said cleaners. Your only role in terms of payments is simply what's stipulated on your Airbnb bill.

Etiquette expert Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, the famous author on all things etiquette, spoke to Travel + Leisure about this. "I look at Airbnbs as different than a hotel ... if there's a cleaning fee, I'm not gonna pay extra," Post explained. During the interview, the outlet also consulted an Airbnb host located in New Orleans, Louisiana, who said they never expects tips from guests. It's simply not the same experience as interacting with room service or cleaning persons. The one caveat is that if you're doing an extended stay and the host brings in cleaning people in the midst of your stay, you can tip them if you wish.

What you can do instead of tipping

If you still want to express gratitude for an amazing Airbnb stay, there are many ways to show this besides tipping. For one thing, leave a rave review online and recommend the host to friends. This is the best way to thank the host for going above and beyond for you. If the host was truly extraordinary and you bonded during your stay, write a personal note or leave a gift for them. Since it's their home, a gesture that expresses their warmth as a host will mean a lot more than money. You can also express gratitude in other ways. Follow the house guidelines and tidy up after yourself. This isn't to say that you have to clean the place, especially if you paid a cleaning fee, but you can certainly leave it in decent shape. Ask if the host wants you to strip your bed, or offer to take out the trash.

When it comes to replacing things that you consumed, it's up to you. In her conversation with Travel + Leisure, Lizzie Post noted that if she ate and drank a lot of the food and beverages that were in the kitchen, then she replaces them. However, the Airbnb host who was interviewed said they leave food for guests as a gift, implying that they don't expect the guests to replace it. Again, hosts get to set their rates, and they can factor this in themselves.