Three types of visitors can make any host anxious:
- Unannounced guests
- Missing guests
- Unclear guests
Avoid becoming any of these unpredictable people by communicating your intentions early and often. When preparing to stay over at someone else’s home, let them know as soon as possible when you plan on arriving, the precise length of your stay and any scheduled outings which may affect your host.
Value Other People’s Property
A hotel might allow guests to rest their bare feet on the coffee table, leave clothing scattered across the room and pig out on the contents of the fridge. They also charge a premium for these luxuries.
Few things can cause resentment as quickly as becoming overly familiar, and few qualities can be as off-putting as entitlement. Your guests will tell you to “Relax” and “Feel at home,” but the silent part of the bargain is not to overlook or undervalue the favour.
Of course, this same principle applies when dealing with the host’s family, friends and pets.
Follow the Rules
In fact, be a more devoted follower of the house rules than the host. Even if they seem arbitrary, these conditions are the cost of a free stay.
Of course, unlike a gym with the code of conduct posted plainly on the wall, most of the house rules will be unspoken. How can you figure out what these are without accidentally overstepping?
A good rule of thumb is not to lower the living standards around the home. Be as tidy, social and quiet as your hosts. If not, they might start noticing each day you stay comes with a price to pay. And that’s when the countdown of tolerance begins.
Keep the Noise Down
Quick, list all the people you know who enjoy the sound of a car alarm as they try to sleep. Can’t think of anyone?
Though no one expects their housemates to be quiet as ninjas, it’s thoughtless noise which makes most folks irate. If you can show your hosts you’re putting in an honest effort to reduce disturbances during quiet times, they will most likely give you the benefit of the doubt.
To avoid any disturbances, find out when your hosts are most likely to engage in quiet time – reading, sleeping, etc. – and schedule your blender sessions and vocal warmups outside of these periods.
Eliminate Work for Your Hosts
You may be off to new and exciting places, but life as normal resumes for your host. The last thing you want to leave them with is a messy bathroom, bed to change and sink full of unwashed dishes.
Instead, reduce the work for your host by taking care of a few key tasks:
- Clean the bathroom sink and vanity of all toothpaste stains, shaving remnants and any other signs of your stay.
- Empty the trash bins of each room you’ve stayed in.
- Return clean dishes from the dishwasher to their respective cabinets and move dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
- Fold blankets and strip the bed sheets so they are ready to toss directly into the washing machine. The same goes for any wash cloths and towels.
- Place extra keys and any other borrowed items in an easy-to-find location, like the kitchen counter.
Of course, if you can think of other ways to tidy up and make life easier for your host, don’t stop there. Go right ahead – so long as it follows the rules of the house.
Endings matter. A lot. And the best way to make sure your stay is remembered positively is to leave your host feeling generous and appreciated.
Within a few days of your departure, send a thank you card. Not a quickly jotted note, not an email or a phone call. Be sure to express three things:
- How grateful you were for their hospitality
- The kindness and generosity of your host
- A memory from your stay that stands out
Whether you decide to leave your host a gift is up to you. But the gesture doesn’t need to be too big if the host feels properly appreciated. That said, restocking their groceries is always in good taste.
Enjoy Your Stay
Most importantly, appreciate the time you get to spend in close quarters with people generous enough to offer you temporary accommodation. While some stays are more welcome than others, each is an opportunity to strengthen relationships and make some memories. Being away from home can be an inconvenience or a blessing. Which would you prefer?