If you’re reading this, you’ve probably spent at least some time as a houseguest at some point in your life. It’s always fun to pack up and go somewhere new, spend some time with friends and family, and experience a new place. But there’s a big difference between booking a hotel room and staying with close friends or relatives. Hotels are big, anonymous buildings with staff trained to meet your needs and people you’ll never see again. Staying with friends or family requires more of you than paying the bill at the end of your stay… particularly because there is no bill!
It’s a ton of fun staying with friends and family, but you do not want to be the person who elicits a quiet groan from your host when you ask to stay there. They can’t say no, you’re [insert close relationship here]. You’re a good friend, you’re Auntie Sue’s daughter, you’ve known each other for years, you get the picture. So how do you make sure people love having you over? Answers lie ahead.
Leave the House as You Found It
Let’s face it, everyone has different standards they uphold within their own homes. You may have a friend who’s a total neat freak and another who could start a compost pile in their living room. One of the main complaints about houseguests according to this study is that they are messy. If you don’t completely know the house rules, a good rule of thumb is to uphold the standards you find there to the best of your ability. This doesn’t mean obsessively straightening cushions or folding everything neatly, but when you leave, clean up! Trash goes in the garbage, ask your host if they want you to strip the bed, generally tidy up the bathroom you are using- you get the picture.
Respect Your Host’s Privacy
They’ve invited you into their home, not into their medicine cabinet. Don’t go rooting around in their things or look in drawers you have no reason to look in. Ask where things are, don’t use “I needed Q-tips” as an excuse to look through someone’s drawers. And if you accidentally stumble upon something personal, don’t bring it up. It’s your cross to bear, not a conversation starter.
Know Your Host’s Limits
There are a couple of ways to respect your host’s limits. In some cases, it can be hard for people to say no to guests, particularly close friends or family. Know when your hosts are probably not in a place to have guests. Are they moving? Having a baby? Generally overwhelmed at work? Don’t ask to visit just then.
And finally, don’t decide to extend your trip without consulting your hosts and asking if it’s going to be convenient for you to stay longer. And really listen to their answers. If they’re nodding yes, but don’t seem excited, don’t change your flight. They’ve hosted you for as long as you asked for, and the polite thing for you to do at that point is to go home or make other arrangements.
Offer to Help – Seriously
Are you exploring the city that day and could easily pick up their dry-cleaning while they’re at work? Do it. Can you pick up a pizza on your way home? Offer it up. Are the ingredients for a salad just sitting on the counter waiting to be assembled? Get up and start doing it. People might not want their guest’s help, and they’ll tell you, but a lot of times, they need you to show that it’s not an obligation or an empty offer. They’re letting you stay. You are happy to help out with things they need help with.
Come Bearing Gifts
If you’re showing up for a couple of days, bring wine or dessert. Offer to take them out to dinner, or pay for takeout one night. Since you’re saving on the cost of a hotel, you can buy a bottle of wine or a meal to show your appreciation.
What being a good houseguest really boils down to is appreciation. When friends or family let you stay, you save money and get the added bonus of seeing people you care about! Whether you’re visiting for the sake of seeing them or you’re traveling to a new place and they’re willing to host you, you’re saving money on a hotel and you get an added comfort level of staying in a home. So if you’re angling for an open invitation, follow these guidelines and you’ll be as good as gold!