Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Be a Great Houseguest

Isn't it awesome when you travel somewhere and get to save a nice hundred bucks or more by staying with family or friends?  It's always nice to sleep in a comfy bed, have some space to roam, and of course, catch up with your hosts during your visit.  Plus, you don't have to breathe that stuffy hotel air or listen to the elevator ding.  Unless their place has an that case, stay friends with them, because that is awesome

But, if you've ever had anyone stay with you, you know that having people in your space, using your things can become frustrating pretty quickly.  I have to disclose that I am an extremely anal person and really like things in their rightful place, thus having people touch my things can be a teeth-grinding experience.  I love having people stay with us, but sometimes I am appalled by people's bad manners. 

Therefore, I wanted to write up a few little tips - so that you get invited back again, or will be granted another stay.  Unless I'm at my parent's house (sorry, Mom), I try to be on my best behavior.  Pretend that you are staying in your fancy aunt's house.  Use your manners.  Make your bed, bus your dishes, take a shorter shower. 

These tips apply for one night stays as well as vacation visits.

Before You Arrive:
  • Make sure your host knows of anything you will need while you're there.  For instance, if I travel carry-on only, I often need to get some sort of  hair product when I arrive, or borrow toothpaste.  Make sure they know about any extra trips they will have to make to get supplies.
  • Plan a time for arrival.  Depending on the time of day you arrive, your host might have to adjust their schedule to pick you up, let you in, etc.  They will want to know what they can accomplish in their day before you arrive. 
  • Make your food/diet preferences known.  Being in Austin, we like a lot of barbecue, tacos, and fresh meat.  If you're a vegetarian, we'll need to adjust our meals and restaurant stops!
  • If you're on a touristy visit, let your hosts know one special thing you'd like to check out.  Not everyone has the same interests, and it will make it a little bit easier to start planning outings.
During Your Stay:
  • Keep your things contained.  If you are lucky enough to have a room to yourself, keep your belongings corralled in that space.  Try not to leave your personal items around the house.
  • Offer to help.  Whether it be clearing the table or taking out the trash.  Asking to help is always appreciated, even if it is not taken advantage of.  You can always offer to make dinner or pay for a dinner out as well.
  • Make your bed.  Even if you never make your bed at home, make your bed in the mornings for the duration of your stay.
  • CUPS!  This is a personal pet peeve, but I have to include it.  Please do not use six cups every day during your stay.  One can only own and wash so many drinking vessels in one day. 
  • Control your noise level.  One of more of the people staying or living in the house may be on a different schedule than you are.  Be courteous of your voice late at night and early in the morning.
  • Curb your vices.  If you smoke, chew, or drink excessively and the hosts do not, be aware of where and how often you are participating.  No one likes a houseguest that is going outside to smoke every 30 minutes.
  • Put down the toilet seat.  If you don't, start.  Be a real man.
  • Watch your feet.  Some people have different rules about shoes in the house.  Make sure you ask.  And for the love of Pete, DO NOT PUT YOUR FEET ON THE COFFEE TABLE!
  • Be clean.  Even if you are a total slob at home.  No one wants to clean up after someone else unless they are married to them or wiped their bum at some point.  Don't spill, use a napkin, leave your dirty undies tucked away, and don't leave your toothpaste scum on the mirror. 
  • Say Thank You.  Be sure to express your thanks to your host.  Some suggest bringing a hostess gift.  Lots of smiles and hugs suffice for me!
I hope this gives you a little insight into both sides of hosting and being a houseguest.  Some of the things listed above are personal pet peeves and some of them can apply to everyone.  Take these in to account on your next visit.  Always be extra warm toward your host, you want to be invited back!

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