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Unlike most occupations that expect tips, there are no hard and fast rules for ski instructors. Making just what to tip them a confusing annoyance for any skier that wants to show their appreciation. While you don’t want to be rude, you also don’t want to overpay. So what is the right amount?
In the US it would be recommended to tip your ski instructor somewhere between 10% to 15%. Be sure to tip relative to the length of instruction. For example in a private lesson you might tip more than in a group lesson. Most importantly, if you are happy with what you learned that day, feel free to tip a little extra than average, and leave no tip if you had a bad day.
Factors To Consider
There are a few things to keep in mind when tipping your ski instructor after a day on the slopes. First, none of what is about to come is set in stone. They are just the norm for most ski resorts. Also, keep in mind that this is for North American ski mountains, so customs may be different if you are skiing in another country.
1. Group lesson or private?
The first thing to keep in mind is whether or not your lesson is with a group or is private. Private lessons are more expensive, and you should tip more for them. Getting one on one instruction from a good skier is invaluable and should be treated so. $50 is not an uncommon tip for a private lesson, but this can vary depending on how much you paid for the lesson upfront.
Feel free to tip around $20 for a group lesson because the day is not specialized around you. Also, the other members of your group should be tipping as well, so your ski instructor should be making out okay.
Since private lessons are more expensive, you can usually tip 10% and 15% for group lessons because they are so much cheaper. That is usually what an instructor is hoping for on your typical successful day of teaching.
2. Half-day or full-day?
Another thing to consider is how long you will be skiing. If it is a half-day, tip less, but if it’s a full day, then you might want to tip a bit extra. An instructor has spent their whole day making sure you are skiing to the best of your ability, so throw them a tip at the end of the day. If you would tip $50 for a full-day private lesson, then tip $25 for the half-day, and the same goes for the group lessons as well.
3. Teaching your kids
Do not forget about those brave instructors that are teaching a pack of wild children while you get to enjoy a leisurely day of skiing because they are the real heroes. Unfortunately, most people do not tip their child’s ski instructor, which is a shame. So next time you drop the kids off for a day of lessons, be sure to slide the instructor a $5 or $10, just to remind them that you appreciate all of their hard work. It will go a long way.
4. How was your instructor?
This is by far the most important question you should be asking yourself once you finish with your lesson. If you had a great day with your ski instructor and felt like a more competent skier, feel free to tip a little extra. Giving a 20% tip for a job well done is really going to make a ski instructor’s day. A really good instructor is worth their weight in gold, so they should be tipped accordingly.
While it is never advised to not tip your instructor at all, there are times when that is unfortunately necessary. If you had a really terrible time out because of your instructor, then do not tip. You do not want to reward any bad instructor for a miserable day on the slopes.
Also, keep in mind that it is never too late to tip a ski instructor. If you get caught without cash at the end of the lesson, just go to the ski lodge later when you do have cash and ask whoever runs the ski school that you would like to tip your instructor. It happens all the time. Additionally, if you have found one of the free ski lessons that a lot of resorts are doing, you should still tip your instructor at the end.
If you have just had a blast on the mountain and want to show your instructor that they did a great job, you should tip. If you forgot cash, ask if they have a mobile payment app like Venmo or Cashapp, almost all do. 10% to 15% is standard, but if they are really exceptional, go for 20%. Not tipping should only be reserved for the worst of situations since ski instructors get paid so little.