How To Be a Good Houseguest

in Family Vacations, Trip Planning

One of the most expensive aspects of travel is lodging. Hotel stays can really start to add up after a week or two.

There are many alternative lodging options available to help frugal travelers cut costs. Of course, one of the cheapest of these is staying with an acquaintance, friend or family member (because it is usually free). It’s true that host/guest expectations can vary widely depending on relationships, work schedules, and numerous other variables. Here are some general tips to assure that your stay goes smoothly and improve your chances of being invited to come stay again.

Communicate your schedule and other details about your stay. It’s important that your host(s) know what to expect during your stay. Communicate details about your travel schedule (flight/train arrival and departure times, etc.) and about your stay in general (how many days you will be staying, if you will be staying with your guests the entire time, what your plans are during the day and evening, etc.). These details are especially important if your hosts will be filling various roles (airport chauffeur, tour guide, etc.) to accommodate your stay. If your hosts would like to spend some time with you (take you to see certain sights, have dinner at home together, etc.), it’s important to plan this in advance to make sure everyone is aware of one another’s expectations.

Consider all aspects of transportation. Never assume that your host will provide transportation for you. It’s always best to discuss these things in detail up front. Be aware of your host’s own transportation situation. If you are staying with a married couple who both work and need two cars to get to their jobs each day, then it is unrealistic to expect that you would be able to borrow a car for each day of your stay. In this type of situation, it is best to consider renting a car to make sure that everyone’s transportation needs are covered and that you do not cause undue stress to your hosts.

Remain aware of your host’s schedule. If your host has to work at 8am, be quiet when you come home after a night out on the town. Likewise, if you’re an early riser and your host prefers to sleep late, postpone louder activities until after he or she awakes (or sneak out of the house and grab breakfast at a local coffee shop). It’s also good to be clear about what everyone’s eating plans are for the day (Will you be eating together that evening? Should your host make extra coffee for you in the morning? Etc.) to avoid misunderstandings and possible frustration.

Show your gratitude. There are many ways to do this. Keep in mind that even the simplest gesture of gratitude can go a long way. If your host drives you around for a day, offer to pay for gas. Offer to pay for food that your host has purchased for your stay or offer to cook him/her a special dinner (and do the dishes!). If culinary arts aren’t your thing, offer to take your host(s) out to dinner or buy them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. You could also bring a host gift (a nice bottle of wine, etc.) to give to them at the beginning of your stay. After you return home, be sure to send a thank you note reiterating how nice it was for them to accommodate you. Of course, good houseguests always offer to wash the sheets and towels they have used and leave their rooms as clean as they found them.

Offer to return the favor. Make sure your hosts know they are welcome to stay with you at any time. If they do take you up on the offer, be sure to treat them even better than they treated you during your stay. This is the key to establishing a great routine and assuring more free lodging in your future.

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