How to be the best houseguest on vacation

Tips on staying in someone’s home while vacationing…

There is nothing more gracious and generous than friends or family welcoming you into their home when you’re traveling. You want to show your gratitude by being polite and respectful of your host’s home. Because you could stay in a hotel or AirBnB instead… it’s very personal and special being received for an overnight in someone’s private abode.

You don’t want to be Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation… “coming in hot” with all your crap, completely disrupting your host’s house, and life! You also don’t want to be the horribly cheap house guest just poaching a bed with no intention of spending quality time with your host… you only called your college bud with a slopeside Colorado ski house or friends in St Augustine (whom you haven’t spoken to in years) because you are looking for free lodging, which will become very obvious quickly.

Ten Tips for a fun, successful, respectful visit staying in someone’s home:

Ask politely, if you can stay and give your exact travel plans. Give the host an out, by stating “If this is too much” or “If you are busy, we can find an alternate place to stay, a nearby inn or hotel.”

Communicate clearly your arrival time, and when you will depart. Remember wise Ben Franklin’s saying, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” In these modern times, maybe two nights is enough for everyone involved!

Inform your host in advance of any allergies you may have. Politely explain if you’re allergic to cats, dogs or if you’re gluten-free, have a nut allergy, whatever your issue! Don’t show up and surprise your host, upon arrival, announcing that you “can’t breathe because there must be a cat in the house!” A conversation in advance can pre-empt embarrassment and inconvenience… or worse!

Bring a hostess gift, also bring your own beverages and any particular food items that you can’t live without.  Also offer to take your host out for lunch or dinner, or buy groceries and make dinner, to minimize your impact, and not be a burden of food preparation for your gracious hosts.

Tell your host your exact plans, and also offer to do some activities and outings on your own so they don’t feel they have to entertain you every minute of the day. Respect their schedule and their space, especially if they are working from home.

Ask about house rules, and then abide by them. “Shall we take off our shoes inside your home?” “Is it okay to let the cat out?” and “Is it okay to bring a snack in the living room or do you prefer to keep food in the kitchen?” Then, mind your manners!

In their home, be respectful and tidy, don’t take over the bathroom or put your personal stuff everywhere. Keep your guestroom neat and orderly as well. Make the bed each morning and keep the bathroom clean and available to others. Its upsetting walking into your bathroom to find cosmetics, hair dryers, products… strewn all over the vanity that you carefully cleaned and prepped for your houseguests.

Help out in the kitchen, with meal prep, or dishes and clean up. Walk the dogs, rake the leaves, run an errand, to lessen your impact and make a good impression … so they might invite you back.

Make it clear when you plan to depart. Offer to strip and remake your bed, and tidy up the bathroom you utilized. Leave it neater than you found it is my motto.

Send a thank you note, perhaps a gift, promptly after your stay. And offer to reciprocate… “We hope you will come to stay with us sometime. It’s our turn!”

“Every house guest brings you happiness. Some when they arrive, and some when they are leaving” – Confucius

See more Travel Tips:
How to Pack for a Luxury Vacation
How to be a Conscientious Traveler
Modern Manners and Etiquette