Being a houseguest has it’s own set of rules and expectations, and it can sometimes be a little confusing on what to do exactly when you’re staying at someone’s place to cause the least amount of disruptions. Below you’ll find a list of 4 of my tips on how to be a good houseguest.
Hi there! I am back from a little hiatus that I went on for a little bit as I have been traveling; mostly for fun and on one occasion for a family emergency (all is good now). I have missed writing about travel and the importance of travel and travel reflection, and needless to say that as an aspiring travel blogger, I kept my radar high while on my travels, and I sought out inspiration and other practical ideas that I could share about with you all on this platform. So, get ready for more content, more travel reflections, and practical travel tips!
Most recently I was in Dublin, Ireland a couple of weeks ago (if you follow me on instagram, you probably could tell how much I spammed my insta stories with Irish beauty!). I was there visiting a friend that I consider a sister, and to be completely honest with you, it was a pretty quickly decided and planned trip. I bought my ticket only a couple (if that) months before my departure date, and we had planned a couple of things to see. Planning to spend a week in Dublin, my friend was SO kind to let me stay the whole time with her at her place. As I was preparing for my trip and imagining what Dublin would be like (I had never been there before), I also thought about what it would be like staying with my friend at her place for a whole week.
I have been a houseguest in the past at friends places, but only for a couple of days (with the exception of the year that I lived with a host family in Madrid). However regardless of these experiences, I was still wondering how I could be a good houseguest for not just anyone, but a really good friend of mine.
So this experience of being a houseguest at my friends in Dublin is the inspiration for this post, so without blabbing on for too long, here are a couple of my freshly tested suggestions as to how to be a good houseguest at your friends place (or anyone’s).
Don’t come empty handed
First tip to being a good houseguest is realizing this: our friends have literally saved us a good amount of money by letting us crash at their place, the least we can do is bring a gift. It’s important to express to our host how grateful we are that they are letting us stay at their place, plus it’s a nice little detail that they may or may not be expecting. As I was preparing my trip to Dublin, it took me a while to figure out what I could bring my friend that she would like. Would she want something for her home, or would she enjoy food instead? It was difficult! Especially if you plan to travel lightly with just a carry on. In the end, I went with a cute Chicago tin box of chocolates and a bag of hot cheetos lol which she seemed to have enjoyed 😁.
When it comes down to actually figuring out what to bring to your host, it can be a little hard, I completely get that. However if you find yourself in this situation (or for-see yourself being in this situation) no worries. In future posts, i’ll be sharing different ideas on what you can bring your host when you’re staying at someone’s place 😁
You are on vacation, they are not – be mindful of that
This is a huge one, especially if the host happens to be a friend like it was in my case recently. Something we have to keep in mind as houseguests is that even though our friend host is allowing us to stay over for the duration of our vacation, we have to be mindful that we are the ones on vacation, not them (unless they do have time/were able to make the time to be off work). Be respectful of their own schedule, duties, and other responsibilities that they normally tend to. Be mindful that your friends will not so easily be able to take the day off from work to show you around. I was fortunate that my friend told me ahead of time that she had time to show me around and spend time together exploring the city, but it may not be the case all the time.
With this tip in mind, another suggestion related more to sharing spaces is to try to adapt to their schedule so you won’t make their day complicated with things like taking the bathroom when they usually need it to take a shower and get ready for the day, and other things like this. As a houseguest, the goal is to not disrupt our host’s routines by being careless.
On the flip side however, if your friend host is able to take a couple of days off to show you around town, be sure to spend that time with them. If you forget to spend a couple days with your host (or don’t at all) it will seem like you may be using them for their place, and not their company.
As you can see, it’s about communication, having a clear understanding of itineraries and personal schedules, and being mindful of each others experience. You as a visitor, them as a host, and what can be done for it to be a good experience for both of you.
Be tidy and clean
Please remember this, especially if you are sleeping in a common space like the living room. Keep your area tidy and clean. Also, not just your area where you are sleeping, but also other common spaces such as the bathroom, kitchen, and other shared spaces. Also taking care of the things your host lends you such as towels and bed linens, and also offering to wash these items as needed. As houseguests, we shouldn’t leave our clothes on the floor or leave shoes in areas of high traffic, create big messes, etc. The goal here is that as the houseguest, you have the power to avoid putting both you and your host in awkward situations in which the host has to remind you of basic housekeeping. Let’s not even get to that point.
If you’re staying in a room with a door, even closing the door so that your friends place doesn’t look cluttered with additional items is a good idea. Make your bed, and if you’re sleeping on your friends couch, doing things like taking down your bed every morning, and folding and storing all the blankets and sheets in a corner where they won’t be in the way of using the living room is really helpful. Treat the place you’re at as if it were your own space, it’s basically the golden rule here.
Offer to cook at least one meal or treat your host to a meal out
Because the price of dinner or brunch will definitely not compare to what you would have spent on outside lodging. When you’re a houseguest visiting a friend in a different city, cooking together or eating out will inevitably happen, so this is a great opportunity and a nice treat for your host. If you know your way around in the kitchen and if there is time, definitely offer to cook a meal, especially if your friend host works all day (and even if they don’t). You don’t want to add another layer of stress by having them come home to cook something for you both at the end of the day.
However if you can’t cook for instance, or there isn’t enough time being spent at home to actually cook, make sure to offer and treat your host friend to a meal. Tell them that you would like to treat them to have dinner or brunch out, and that if there’s a place they recommend, you could go there.
And here’s the thing, 9 times out of 10 your friend host will tell you not to worry about cooking anything or cover the food bill, and that’s extremely nice of them. However, this is when you should stop offering and just do it. Pay the bill on your way to the bathroom if need be, tell them that you really want to treat them to this meal for their company and hospitality. On the flip side if you’re cooking for them, plan to go shopping for groceries one day early in the morning and cook later in the day if you can. The overall action of doing this will speak loudly of how you feel staying with them. So for your host to see that, it can mean a lot to them. It is a sign to them that you’re enjoying your experience and that you are grateful for the space. It makes them happy that you’re enjoying your experience.
So these are some of my best tips to being a good houseguest when traveling. I really hope it doesn’t come off as I am exaggerating, but it’s essentially just being mindful and respectful, whatever that looks like between you and your host. It may be that your host is letting you stay at their place while they are away, so some of these suggestions may not be so strictly enforced the whole time. Regardless of the situation, my biggest tip is to always communicate with your host. Just as you have to be mindful and respectful, they will also reciprocate that by giving you privacy and whatever you need for a comfortable stay. Your host may even be a little nervous as far as hoping that you enjoy your stay with them. Especially if you’re staying with friends that are happy to welcome and host you, they too want you to have a comfortable stay with them.
Let me know if these tips work for you, or if you have other tips that I didn’t cover on here. Let’s spread the knowledge!