The invitation to stay in someone’s home is a gift. It allows you to spend time with people in a way that meeting up for a coffee or going out to dinner can’t compare to. You also have a chance to be part of their daily life in a way that can bring new insight and appreciation for your friendship or relationship with them.
For me, if someone invites me to stay with them I take it as a compliment and for a lack of better words, I feel quite honored. That being said I think it’s important to be a good houseguest and to be respectful of their space and time. Read on to learn a few ways to be a good houseguest.
Keep in mind, these suggestions are flexible depending on how long you stay with your hosts, but generally speaking can serve as a helpful guide when staying with family or friends.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of being a good houseguest. Get specific and talk about your arrival/departure days, what time you’ll be arriving/departing, and how much time you’ll be spending with your hosts. Then everyone will be on the same page.
Also, if you’re a digital nomad it’s important to let your hosts know that you may have to work during your visit. Don’t show up and treat someone’s home like an office without prior conversation. On the other hand, if you’re going to be in full vacation mode and hope to spend a lot of time with your hosts, be sure to talk about that.
Bring a gift
This doesn’t have to be anything major, but don’t come empty handed. A local wine or some chocolate. Just remember, it’s the thought that counts. If you don’t bring something prior, you can pick something up during your visit and leave it prior to departure.
DURING THE VISIT
Offer to help
If you’re going out for the day, offer to pick up things from the store or run an errand. If your hosts have children, offer to babysit one night. Other ideas include making dinner or offering to take your hosts out for a meal. Make sure to help with the dishes too!
Be respectful of their time
Although you’re a guest, you’re not a king or queen. If your hosts are sleeping in, do the same or stay quiet in the morning till they get up. In contrast, if your hosts are morning birds, try to get up early as well if you’d like to spend time with them.
Remember you’re not at a hotel
Please don’t arrive late one night and leave the following morning, unless that’s the expectation that’s been set. Pick up after yourself and make your bed. If you wanted to stay at a hotel, you should have checked into one!
Depending on the expectations set with your hosts, you may have some downtime. You may be more than welcome to hang out at the house all day, but it might also be nice to give your hosts some space too. So get out there and do something! Then you’ll have a few stories to tell when you return.
AFTER THE VISIT
Send a thank you note
I don’t care if you stay one night or 10 nights, send a damn thank you card. Please excuse the damn, but I’m apparently rather passionate when it comes to thank you notes. I have a stack on the dining room table that are headed to the post office very soon.
Extend an invite
Offer for your guests to visit and stay with you in the future. This is something I’ve failed at the last few years because I keep moving around. Mind you it’s my goal in 2017 to rent a house in either Italy, Ireland, or somewhere else for at least one or two months and invite all of the people I have stayed with over the years to come and stay with me. I can’t wait.
I don’t do any of these things because I feel like “I have to”, but rather because I genuinely enjoy it. Staying with friends and family on the road really has been a gift and one of the reasons I’ve traveled the world so much. Case and point, if I didn’t have friends in The Netherlands I’m not sure I would have gone there in the first place in 2012. And then again in 2013, 2015, and 2016!
Thank you to all of my friends and family I’ve stayed with over the years in so many places: USA (Oregon, Arizona, New York, Maryland, California, Washington State, Virginia, Colorado, Utah), The Netherlands, Germany, England, The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.
I’m forever thankful for your kindness and generosity, as you’ve opened up your homes and hearts to my nomadic ways!
Written in: Eugene, Oregon USA