View Full Version : Tipping/Donations

03-20-2013, 17:38
I am just curious what is the rule of thumb people use when offering up money for an offered ride to/from the trail to resupply, zero or nero, or how much they leave at a "volunteer" hostel that accepts donations? If you leave too little, you make all hikers look like cheap skates, but no one likes to over pay either. I am just curious to hear everyone's thoughts. I know many nice people turn down the offer of money, but what amount is appropriate trail etiquette to offer?

Jack Tarlin
03-20-2013, 17:46
Give whatever you can, especially at hostels. There's really no such thing as a "volunteer" hostel. These places all cost a lot of money to run, and in most cases, easily half of the guests, when they see a "donation" box, they assume it's free and leave nothing. Leave what you can when you can to make up for the folks who assume the Trail is free.

kayak karl
03-20-2013, 18:04
your going to get lot of different answers, but i tip when i think it is deserved and the amount that i think is fair to me. if a donation is asked it is usually a suggested amount. i pay it and maybe leave some extra supplies for hostel.

03-20-2013, 19:04
For rides it totally depends on the circumstances. Pro shuttle driver or taxi (non-owner) 10% over the fare amount. Volunteer semi-pro (hostel/hotel employee, grocery store employee)=$1/10 miles. Elderly couple on vacation that picks up you hitching, zero. This is, of course, my own opinion, and does not represent the opinion of the US gov't or Major League Baseball, HYOH.

For hostels, it depends on if there's a mandatory, suggested or donation only fee. And the percieved need of the operator. I'm more inclined to donate extra if I feel the operator has been abused by others not paying, etc.

03-20-2013, 19:19
So flemdawg1 you are saying that just because someone is a professional or a semi-professional they deserve your tip money more than mom and pop that stopped to give you a ride. As for me I would at least offer the same amount to all who offer me the same service and most likely mom and pop won’t accept my offer but that does not change the fact that they have earned the right to the same tip as the others.

03-20-2013, 19:46
I always offer money for gas when I'm hitching. No one has ever taken the cash, but I feel like I need to make the offer.

Another Kevin
03-20-2013, 20:10
Hmm. Since at this point of my life I "ain't hurtin'," (praise be!) I tend to be generous. I think I'd likely pay a hostel-keeper about twice the suggested donation, "This is to make up for the last guy who stiffed you." And of course a hitchhiker offers gas money. If it's refused, I might get out of the car saying, "You might want to check the crack in this seat's cushion, I think I felt something poking me," having unobtrusively stuck the refused gas money in there.

Of course, this may change if my daughter's college bankrupts me. :eek:

I do not pretend to give such a deed; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. - Benjamin Franklin, letter to Benjamin Webb, 25 April 1784

03-20-2013, 20:20
can't a simple warm thank you suffice? especially when one is only going a few miles like into town? Now a shuttle that goes ten, 20, 30 or more miles.. that's different.

Another Kevin
03-20-2013, 21:32
OK, yeah, but I don't usually hitch a couple of miles.

03-20-2013, 21:45
I attempted to give Miss Janet 20 bucks for driving me all the way to out to Spivey gap a few years ago and she would not take it. I ended up tossing it into the back seat when she wasn't looking.

03-20-2013, 22:05
First, let me give you kudos for being mindful enough to ask the question. It tells me you probably aren't a cheapskate freeloader. I feel I have to be blunt because TOO OFTEN I have looked the other way or played games with WAY TOO MANY sense of entitlement types that are, in plain English, freeloaders. It's way too common coming across these types and seems to be getting more common. OK, with that off my chest, let me put the NJ back in the closet.

There are no hard and fast rules or "rule of thumb" with these types of things just my own rule of thumb. With hitched rides or those that offer me a ride I exactly match Big Cranky's sentiments. I usually offer some money for gas even if I only have $10 on me I will offer $5 to a hitch. For rides into town 25 miles and less(most of my thru-hiking resupply hitches are less than 25 miles) I offer $10. Not the greatest. Not the most anyone's ever offered. Not the least anyone's offered either. I think it's the pt of offering, acknowledging to the driver that their resources are valuable too and their ride is appreciated. That's my mindset. If I have offered $10 50 times I've been taken up on the offer MAYBE 5 times. It's most often not accepted by the driver.

Anyone really goes out of their way for me like deviating 5-10 miles just for me I'll do something like up the offer to $20. Heck a taxi doing this is going to cost me this much to do this. Take into account I'm not financially set but I DAMN WELL TRY TO LIVE MY LIFE WITH GRATITUDE. Before someone says but I'm broke I can't offer a donation. That may be true but than how is that person able to afford to hike? AND, I've been there. I've been on VERY LEAN hiker budgets but that hasn't stopped me offering something of value such as my labor to show I appreciate the ride. What do you mean Dogwood? Explain? I've mowed lawns, painted hostels, took out garbage in hostels, swept floors, once changed a hitch's car oil, chopped firewood, done landscaping,etc. For example in Vernon NJ at the church hostel hikers had access to the basement kitchen. One other hiker and myself, both of us in temporary cash strapped positions, cleaned the entire basement spotless to help pay for our stays. I had to do a second zero because I was waiting on warrantied replacement shoes to arrive. I did 8 hrs of landscaping, trimming A LOT of shrubs, and doing extensive weeding behind the church hostel. So, it's BS to say you can't offer something in exchange for a ride IF DOING A HIKE or at a hostel!

At a AT hostel the bare minimum just to cover my costs for taking a shower, getting a dry spot to sleep for the night, perhaps access to kitchen privledges FOR ME, is $20 NO MATTER WHAT THE DONATION CAN MAY SAY or anyone contrary saying anything less is acceptable. Again, I said bare minimum. Don't have $20. Hey, what can I do for you is my next question to the hostel owner/manager. If they say they don't need anything and in the very rare event I don't have $20 it's time to go. If they have the space they might offer me to tent for free in the back of the property. Did this at The Andersons on the PCT when waiting for funds to be transferred to my account. When the money hit my account I ponied up for three hikers as well as myself in chipping in for burrito night. Other hikers have done likewise for me when I was dirt bag hiker trash.

Saying all that is, AGAIN, ONLY BARE MINIMUMS. I've had it both ways, as a dirt bag hiker and with a fat $8000 budget to do the PCT. No, I don't like to over pay for myself but will on occasion cover the other costs of less fortunate hikers than myself by donating way over and above my bare minimums. Yes, I've dropped more than a few Grants and Franklin's in donation Cans and anonymous envelopes in the mail to Hostels, restaurants, hotels, trail angels, churches, etc. I know what it's like to have the hiking bug and not having the funds to hike at the immediate moment but still have the attitude I NEED TO GET ON TRAIL.

At this stage in my hiking, I know it's my hike. It's on my shoulders to be able to make for my way, NOT ANYONE ELSES! That selfish inconsiderate for others type hiker can really get under this hiker's skin. And, I have no problem calling someone out on this if I suspect them of it! Ughh! I hate it!

Why am I so adamant about this. Because I KNOW MANY have paved the way BEFORE ME to allow me the opportunity to thru-hike. I'm conscientious of this every time I step on a trail THAT MY BEHAVIOR is going to effect those who hike after me. I'm also aware of this when restaurants, hotels, some hostels, some Trail Angels. LEOs, town people, etc cease assisting hikers or gain an anti hiker attitude.

Chaco Taco
03-20-2013, 22:19
I always offer money for gas when I'm hitching. No one has ever taken the cash, but I feel like I need to make the offer.
We take this same approach. We always offer money, everyone just wants to help out. For people that I know are shuttle drivers, I ask what they suggested donation is or look for it written down in the guidebook.
At hostels, Paying $20 a night for a bed, laundry and a shower is worth it and more often than not, hostels have a shuttle service. We try to pick a chore or clean something or do a load of laundry as part of our gratuity.

03-20-2013, 23:32
If the person offering the service is pushing religion I'm not going to give them a donation. They are doing it for the purpose of proselytizing and because I don't buy what they are pushing I don't feel it necessary to contribute to their ministry. They are salespeople and as salespeople they have to understand that not everybody is going to buy, and I don't want to financially support the religion they are pushing. If they are too pushy about it I leave or ask to be let out of their car. I figure that their "fee" is they get to make their pitch, and sometimes its just not worth a "free" ride.

If you are operating a shuttle, business or "quasi-business" I think you should make that clear so that there are no misunderstandings. When I pick up hitchhikers I never expect them to pay me...I'm going that way anyway and it doesn't cost me anything to have an extra person in the car. If you expect payment, bring it up before the car pulls away and negotiate a fee. If you don't do this then don't cry that people don't "donate" enough, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you are the one wanting the ride, ask if they charge a fee or want a few bucks for gas before you get underway...that way you don't get blindsided thinking it was just a passerby offering you a ride and it was really a professional shuttle service who expects $30.

Same goes for other hiker services. If you put up a sign that says "donations" then you are advertising that payment is voluntary. Donations are voluntary gifts. Don't complain when people don't volunteer.

Beyond that, its just like anywhere else you go in life, if you feel you've gotten good service, pay what you think it was worth to you, or the asking price plus a tip for extra good service. I've dropped a 20 in places that asked for 5 because I thought it was worth it. Other places were dirtier and less friendly than a fleabag motel, and after looking around I decided that they couldn't pay me to stay there.

Don H
03-21-2013, 08:48
I always offer money for gas when I'm hitching. No one has ever taken the cash, but I feel like I need to make the offer.

Yep, I always have a $5 on hand to offer, no one ever takes it though.

03-21-2013, 09:13
Re read JT's post #2.

bear bag hanger
03-21-2013, 09:35
I always try to offer about $10 or $20 for a ride, depending on distance and how far I'm taking my ride out of his path. But no one has ever accepted my offer. Hostels are a different story. Most hostels would prefer to be a profitable B&B or something, but don't have the money for the state licencing (plus, their homes or building would have to be brought up to more exacting codes). They need donations to stay in business and help other hikers down the road. In most states they aren't allowed to require payment since they don't have a licence to do business. My guess a minimum to leave is $20, but figure on paying more if you can. If you had to stay in a motel, you'd be paying from $50 to $100. Figure that's how much it's costing them to provide you with service, particularly if they include dinner and/or breakfast in the deal. For the most part, these are not wealthy people who can dole out expensive services for free.

03-21-2013, 10:05
So flemdawg1 you are saying that just because someone is a professional or a semi-professional they deserve your tip money more than mom and pop that stopped to give you a ride. As for me I would at least offer the same amount to all who offer me the same service and most likely mom and pop won’t accept my offer but that does not change the fact that they have earned the right to the same tip as the others.

Well good for you then, and again, HYOH.

Most of the time when I'm picked up by someone on vacation, they're not out trying to make $ and I won't insult their goodwill by offering any.

03-21-2013, 10:17
I doubt anyone changes their tipping and donation habits from reading this thread....

As for myself, I'm a pretty big tipper and I generally get great service because of it.

If you really, really can't afford to tip much or anything I would suggest at least saying that you'd tip but are just out of money.

03-21-2013, 11:04
Thanks for mentioning that about hostels bear bag hanger. Some don't take that info into account.

03-21-2013, 11:16
I don't tip shuttlers unless they do something very special. I figure that if they wanted more money then they should up the price. I would rather them be upfront about a price they are happy with instead of giving me a bs number where I have to figure out what is the right amount to tip.

V Eight
03-21-2013, 18:36
Just for :D's

You have spent 3 days and 2 nights in the spring time Georgena rain. I highest the temp has been in days was around 40f. You decided at 4p that you just can't take another cold night in your very damp tent/hammock. Remember, it is still pouring. You have tried 2 of the 3 shuttle drivers that you have contact info for. One wont answer the other one is a 100 miles away and now it's after 5. The 3rd one answers and has pretty much settled in for the night. Their favorite show will be on soon. You tell them your tale of woe, which by the way is really not that bad. You tell them you got money and please come the 40 or 45 miles in the cold pouring rain and rescue you. They reluctantly agree, set a price to which you agree is fair and set an extraction point. You overestimate how far you can get in the pouring rain, now that is is mostly dark. You are finally met up the them 40 minuets late. You get your dripping' gear and yourself in and off to town you go. Did I say this was Georgia in the spring? Festival season! After they run you all over town to find you a room that is up to your standards that actually has a vacancy. It is now after 8p.
It's now time to take care of your shuttle driver, (who is still 20 miles from home) You ask them how much again like you "forgot", and after all they and you have been through the last couple hours or so, you still hem and haw about the price. The thought of a tip literally never crosses you mind. You pay the fare, still shaking your head, and off your go.

I went along with this driver as company and saw this happen. The shuttle cost $60, and the hiker still had to think about it for a minuet. Un-****ing believable! Now, if that was not at least a $100 ride, I don't know what is.

So, when someone asks about tippin' shuttle drivers I always think about that cold rainy evening in Georgia.

03-21-2013, 21:49
I always offer gas money for a hitch.

I usually tip about 10% on a shuttle, maybe more depending. Don't feel like I have to, just want to.

03-22-2013, 02:21
I agree the shuttle driver should have gotten more in this case. But experience tells you how you should quote your prices. Taxi cabs have a meter that measures both time and distance. A professional (someone who is paid for what they do) should know the pitfalls of their business and operate accordingly. If you operate a shuttle service and someone calls you after hours or wants you to make a specail accomodation, you should work that into the price you quote..."Let me tell you how I charge...I charge an extra $20 for shuttles after 5pm...my standard rate is $40 for a shuttle into town...I'll take you where you need to go, but if it takes more than an hour I'll have to charge you $15 an hour beyond the $60 I've quoted you...the clock starts in 45 minutes when I make it to the trailhead whether you are there or not."

If you leave things open ended and just charge a flat fee you are setting yourself up for failure.

I needed a shuttle for a canoe trip one time and was quoted $50. I wanted to leave my truck at the takeout point and have the shuttle drive me to the put in point with all of my gear. He said "$50 if we take your truck and I drive it back, if we take my truck its my gas and maintenence on the vehicle...for that I charge $100." We took my truck. I think as long as you set clear expectations and can justify what you are charging people will respect you. Operate willy nilly and you will probably get taken advantage of. BTW, when we got to the put in point the guy helped me unload the canoe and all of my gear. While I was putting it into the water he held onto my dog. He got a $20 tip.

A few months later I was canoeing the same route but had arranged for my own shuttle and didn't need this guy's services. On the last day of the trip I woke up to pouring rain around 530am...I had cowboy camped and didn't have my tent set up, so I quickly got up and threw all of my gear into the canoe and started paddling...two hours later when I got back to my truck I realized I didn't have my keys. I had to break a window to get inside and get the spare...my first stop was the canoe rental that had shuttled me before...I told him I had lost my keys and described the place along the river where I camped...he said he would inform every group he shuttled that day and ask them to look for my keys. He called me back at 6pm...someone had brought my keys into the office. When I picked them up I asked if he knew how I could contact the guys who found my keys. He said "those guys float almost every weekend in the summer time, when they come in next week I'll tell them you said thanks." I put two fifty dollar bills on the counter...I said "this one's for you, and you can tell those guys that their next shuttle is on me."

03-22-2013, 09:37
Thanks for all the input. I think my thinking is right in line with most of the people. I understand what an important role nice people are to successful hiking ventures. My main reason for asking the question was to make sure when I hike, I am preserving the good reputation of the hiking community. Thanks again all for your posts!