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A Guide to Tipping During Your Summer Travel

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Two questions often come up during the summer travel season: “Do I have to tip?” and “If so, how much?”

Tipping gets tricky, typically because it doesn’t come with written instructions. Take a sit-down meal at a restaurant for instance. How do you tip if you get rotten service?

“If it’s really awful service, I don’t tip at all,” said Jennifer, a visitor KSL spoke with downtown. “I use it as a leverage to give feedback informally so they know how well or not so well they did.”

“I leave a poor tip,” Isaac Riddle told KSL. “For me, 10% is doing my part and saying I didn’t appreciate your service.”

Another person we spoke to saw it differently.

“A lot of people rely on these tips to make their living,” Logan Taylor said. “I typically leave a 20% tip. If I don’t like their service then maybe 18%.”

Even when service is good, tipping is confusing. Fifteen percent used to be the widely accepted amount for a meal where everything went well. Now that sweet spot is closer to 20 percent says Matt Schulz, a senior analyst for CreditCards.com.

“I actually think technology is driving up the average of tips,” said Schulz. “You have these preset tip suggestions like you have in a rideshare, food truck, coffee shop or someplace where you have a high, medium and low option.”

For many businesses, those suggested tips include 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent you can simply tap as you pay.

“The merchants like to skew those tip options a little higher and that has led to a little bit of tip creep,” explained Schulz.

Eliza Schow agrees.

“If 15 percent is the lowest amount, than for sure I’m a little bit more inclined to tip a little bit more,” she said.

Schulz says not tipping even when the experience goes bad is not a good thing.

“So many restaurant and food truck workers and others rely so heavily on those tips,” he said. “For people not to tip at all, it’s really a big deal and you’re taking food off their table.”

But tipping comes with no written instructions.

“It can be really confusing to know how to tip because there aren’t any really hard and fast rules,” said Schulz.

So what makes a good tip when there are no rules? Here’s a rough idea for tipping during your summer travel for services outside of restaurants.

Skycaps, bellhops and shuttle drivers who handle your luggage – $1 to $2 a bag.

Taxi and rideshare drivers – 10 to 20 percent.

Cruise ships – most cruise lines automatically tack on a gratuity of around $13 per day per passenger, rather than expecting passengers to tip the crew individually.

Airbnb host – no tip necessary.

Hotel housekeeper – $2 to $5 a night.

“We don’t necessarily interact with housekeepers,” Schulz remarked. “But when you think about it, it’s really an important job because the cleanliness of that room can really impact your stay and your enjoyment of your vacation.”

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