Now that summer is here, it’s time for vacation. For many of us, that means friends and family may be opening their doors (and guest bedrooms!) to us. We all want to be the kind of houseguest who has our hosts saying “Too bad they couldn’t stay longer,” rather than, “Thank goodness they’re finally gone!” Here are some tips to have them welcoming you back.
timing & communication
We’ve all heard the quote “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Believe it or not, we have none other than Benjamin Franklin to thank for that little gem. As true now as it was then, not overstaying your welcome is rule number one. If at all possible, limit your stay to no more than three days. As you make your travel arrangements, be sure to keep your hosts apprised of all of the details of your arrival. If flying, include your flight information, but do not expect your hosts to provide transportation to and from the airport. Plan on taking a cab (unless they insist) – or renting a car, if your stay is more than one night.
If you have plans during your stay, let your hosts know beforehand. Make sure that they don’t conflict with any activities that they had in mind. If there is a conflict, reschedule your plans. Also, don’t accept any other impromptu invitations without first consulting with your hosts.
under their roof
Remember to pack your own toiletries, as your host may not have stocked everything you need. Make sure you clean up after yourself. That means making your bed, picking up clothes, and keeping the bathroom immaculate (especially if you are sharing with others). Clear and clean your dishes, as well. Even if your hosts have household help, these basic rules should be followed, unless your hosts specifically instruct you not to. Even then, err on the side of tidiness. Offer to help your hosts. Don’t just say, “What can I do to help?” but pitch right in. Whether it’s chopping vegetables, setting and clearing the table, or lending a hand with washing the dishes, the helpful houseguest is the houseguest with an invitation to return. Give your hosts some space. Everyone appreciates “breathing room,” especially someone who might not be accustomed to having other people around. Let your host know that you are going to take a walk, read awhile, or get a little work done, so that they can take advantage of the time alone. Be mindful of the hot water supply when staying in a full house, and take short showers. Other bathroom etiquette includes not using towels that weren’t designated for you, leaving the bathmat messy and wet, or leaving the toilet seat up (you know who you are, guys).
children (and fur-babies)
If you’re traveling with children, make sure that you have snacks and portable activities to keep them busy and happy. An ill-tempered or misbehaving child makes for an unpleasant stay, so lay down the rules with your kids, and have them mind their Ps and Qs. Don’t ask to bring your pet. Unless you know the person very well, it puts your host in an awkward position. If you are staying with good friends or family, and they agree without any hesitation, make sure your pet is very well behaved. If your pet has a propensity to chew things or jump on people, you should make other arrangements.
Foot the bill
Play host to your hosts if you are staying for a few days, and treat them to dinner out. Let them know before you arrive that you want to take them out, and have them suggest the date and a few restaurant options, but YOU make the reservations and pick up the tab.
be flexible and fun!
Be the amiable guest who is ready for anything – or nothing at all. If your hosts have gone to the trouble to plan something for you (and perhaps other guests, as well), be enthusiastic, even if you must be just a spectator. For example, if your hosts plan a golf outing and you don’t play, no problem! Ride along in the cart, and enjoy the scenery. If your hosts opt to leave you to your own devices, make sure to occupy yourself whether it’s with a long walk or a good book.