5 People You Never Knew You Were Supposed to Tip — and How Much to Give


For a lot of people in the U.S., tipping is a serious source of anxiety

The rules always seem to be changing: Are we up to 20% for restaurant servers? What are you supposed to put in the tip jar at Starbucks?

And tips are inconsistent around the country: My parents leave $2-$3 for the night in a Wisconsin tavern, yet I’d get serious stink-eye for not leaving at least $1 per drink in a coastal bar.

And then, there are times you might not think about tipping — when you apparently should.

As you make your way through summer camps, parties, vacations and other activities, keep an eye out for a number of tipping opportunities you might not expect.

“We tip during the holidays to thank people for making our lives easier and more pleasant throughout the year. In the summer, it’s a similar idea,” The Etiquette School of New York’s Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick told Business Insider.

They teamed up to create an infographic to tell us exactly who and how much to tip for the people who make summer vacation our favorite time of year.

Some of these conventions might surprise you.

1. Hotel Housekeeper

It welcomes some debate, but tipping a hotel housekeeper isn’t a novel idea. Surprisingly, though, Napier-Fitzpatrick recommends tipping them each day of your stay.

That’s because different people may tend to your room each day. If you tip on the last day, only that person will get the tip.

To ensure everyone gets their share, leave $2-$5 each day you ask for service. Include a note, so your housekeeper knows to take it!

And for other hotel staff, Napier-Fitzpatrick recommends:

  • Tip a bellhop $2 for the first bag plus $1 for each additional bag.
  • If you make a special request of the front desk, tip the person $2-$3.
  • Tip room service $2-$3 cash on top of the gratuity automatically included in the bill.
  • Tip a valet $2-$5 at a hotel or elsewhere in town.

2. Camp Counselors

Have you considered tipping your kids’ camp counselors?

Some camps don’t allow counselors to accept tips, so check first. If they do, apparently you’ll want to tip at the end of the season. If they don’t accept tips, Napier-Fitzpatrick says a small gift works, as well.

Tip amounts vary by position:

  • Head counselor: $50-$100
  • Assistant counselors: $20-$25
  • Instructors (e.g. horseback riding instructor): cost of one lesson

3. Summer Nanny and Dog Walker/Sitter

For someone you employ for the season, tip at the end of the summer, similar to a holiday bonus.

Napier-Fitzpatrick recommends a tip of one week’s pay for a summer nanny and the cost of one walk for a dog walker.

For a one-off sitter or dog walker, use your discretion and add a tip if they dealt with anything unusual or went above and beyond your expectations.

4. Movers

I’ve had some friends who worked as movers who’d definitely like you to know: You’re supposed to tip them!

Summers are hot, your couch is unwieldy and the job doesn’t pay well.

For movers and other group services like caterers, it’s customary to tip 10-15% of your total bill. Give it to whoever’s in charge to split amongst the crew.

5. Swimming Instructors

Is your kid in swimming lessons this summer? Many are, and it might be news that you’re supposed to tip their instructors.

This may not hold true for smaller towns with public swimming classes. For example, my hometown offers free lessons for kids within the district and charges just $20 for non-residents for the season. I don’t think those instructors expect a tip.

This is more relevant, though, for instructors you employ on vacation for specialty classes in swimming, snorkeling, surfing or scuba diving. Tip $20-$25 on top of the rate for one class, or 15-20% for the cost of a course.

Photo Source: Business Insider
Photo Source: Business Insider

From personal experience, I’ll add one more general note: Come prepared to tip in cash.

Your credit card tips will be appreciated when they show up on a paycheck in two weeks, but service workers are much happier to leave at the end of a long day with cash in hand.

And, of course, thank you for your business!

Your Turn: Which tipping customs surprise you? Are there any we missed?

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).