Most of us know we should tip bartenders, servers or food delivery drivers when they bring us our food or drinks, and we should also reward the hotel employees who help bring our luggage to our room.
But there are other situations where you may not have considered providing a tip before, or aren't expected to tip, but should consider it. USA TODAY talked with expert William Frye, an associate professor at Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, for some advice.
If there's no cost attached — say for a valet or bellhop — $5 is a good place to start, he says. And if you're not sure whether tip, Frye suggests doing what feels most comfortable. "Do not feel compelled to tip if you are unsure," he says. If you opt to tip, Frye says 15% of the cost of a service is usually a safe amount.
Frye offered up some other scenarios where you might not have thought about leaving a tip, but maybe you should have.
Roadside service. Think about how long it would take you to change a flat tire. Then imagine how much time you save when a tow truck or other form of roadside assistance does it for you. "Not only are they providing a service, but they're providing a convenience in just making my life a lot easier," Frye says. A tip of $10 is great, and you can opt to give more if, for example, it's raining or snowing outside.
Skycaps. These are workers at airports, often near curbside check-in counters, who help with your luggage. However, it's easy to confuse them with counter or gate agents, says Frye. "Those are individuals working on behalf of the airline that do derive a major portion of their compensation through gratuity." Frye suggests offering $3-$5 for the first bag, then $1 for each additional bag.
Tour guide. If you are visiting a new city, a tour guide can prove beneficial in helping you discover where to explore. "If you have a dedicated tour guide on an organized trip, most people don't realize that it's appropriate to provide a gratuity at the end of your tour,” says Frye, adding the amount of tip varies depending on how much time you spend with the guide and the overall quality. Tips can range from a couple dollars to up to $10.
Uber/Lyft drivers. Uber doesn't require you to tip drivers, while Lyft encourages customers to leave a tip. “Because the sharing economy is still in its infancy, there’s still a lot of confusion about do you tip or don’t you tip,” says Frye. Regardless of which ride-sharing service you use, it never hurts to offer a couple dollars, especially if they get you to your destination quickly.
Hotel housekeepers. Frye says most housekeepers make minimum wage for hard work, cleaning several hotel rooms every day. “A $2-$5 gratuity buys you an incredible amount of goodwill and appreciation.”