Skipping the hotel and staying with friends when you’re traveling can do more than save you money. You can catch up with pals whose presence you otherwise only get to enjoy on social media, and you have the unique opportunity to explore new cities and towns like a local. Unfortunately, invading another person’s space can also mean that, even when you think you’re on your best behavior as a house guest, you’re still stepping on some toes.
Luckily, the rules for being a good house guest are simple, and following them to a T might just mean you never have to pay for a hotel again. Keep these tips in mind before you head to your friend’s place, and whenever your travel takes you out of the country, make sure you’re avoiding the 30 Biggest Cultural Mistakes Americans Make Abroad.
Arrive on Time
It’s polite to ask a hotel for an early or late check-in, but it’s imperative that you ask your host for one. Not giving your host a clear arrival time, or, worse yet, arriving hours early or late, means that you’re putting serious demands on their day before you even get there. If your plane is late or you’re running ahead of schedule, ask if you can change your arrival time, and be prepared to hit a local Starbucks if your travel changes are going to be an inconvenience. If you’re traveling for work, make sure you have these 17 Rules For Stress-Free Business Travel handy.
Flowers are a weird gift for a first date, but they’re a perfectly acceptable one for a house guest. Unlike other gifts for the home, like unwanted dish towels or coasters, flowers don’t tell your host, “I think your décor sucks, enjoy re-gifting this in six months.” A short shelf life and universal aesthetic appeal make flowers a win-win. If you’re at a loss at the florist, here’s the Romantic Man’s Guide to Buying the Perfect Flowers.
Even if you feel weird giving your host flowers, don’t arrive empty-handed. Bringing a nice bottle of wine is the perfect gesture, meaning if you want to catch up over a drink, your only option isn’t a run to the bodega or opening your host’s 25-year Macallan. Looking to travel somewhere you can take that drink to go? The 100 Drunkest Cities in America have got you covered.
Make Yourself Scarce
Just because you’re invited to stay at your friend’s place doesn’t mean you should expect a togetherness marathon. Make sure you have plenty planned to occupy yourself solo before making demands on your host’s time.
Ask For the House Rules
It’s always better to ask permission than it is to beg forgiveness. Before you start annoying your host with your idiosyncrasies, ask them about the house rules and follow them.
Take some of the planning out of your host’s hands and book reservations during your trip. While it’s nice to plan a group dinner, making reservations for your host and their significant other can also be a welcome gesture.
Hang Up Your Towels
Leaving a wet towel on the floor of your friend’s house is one step away from asking them why nobody left a chocolate on your pillow. It’s not a hotel, so don’t treat it like one. Not only is leaving towels on the floor messy and rude, moisture can even permanently damage certain types of flooring.
Buy Your Own Food
Don’t treat the fridge at your host’s house like a free-for-all. When you’re staying at a friend or family member’s house, grab some groceries to sustain you through the trip. Better yet, offer to buy theirs, too.
Whether you’re a metalhead with a headphone allergy or you and your significant other just can’t keep things quiet in the bedroom, being a noisy house guest is a surefire way to have future invites dry up. Keep conversations quiet, blow dry your hair when you know your host is awake, and maybe leave those Megadeth albums at home.
Make the Bed
Even if you know you’re just going to get back in it in a few hours, make the bed when you leave it. Not only will this make your host’s home more presentable, it shows that you’re trying to be respectful of their space.
Bring Your Toiletries
Your friend’s house isn’t the Four Seasons—they probably don’t have an unlimited amount of toiletries lying around for guests. Make sure that you’ve brought your own toothpaste, shampoo, and other grooming products with you, and keep them tidily stored in your room when you’re not using them.
Take the pressure off your host and treat them to a home-cooked meal. This gesture not only saves your host from having to shell out cash for take-out, it’s also a nice way of showing you appreciate them offering up their place.
Wash the Dishes
A sink full of dirty dishes is even more unsightly in your friend’s home than it is in yours. Whenever you eat something at your friend’s house, make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning up after yourself. Better yet, offer to do their dishes, too.
Leave When You Say You Will
Don’t overstay your welcome. If you’ve said that you’re heading out on Sunday morning, do it. Your host probably has plans that don’t revolve around you, so don’t make them put you up for extra nights. If you do have to extend your trip, call a local hotel and make sure to use The Best Way to Get Your Hotel Room Comped to your advantage.
Send a Thank You Note
When you get home, send a heartfelt thank you note to your host for their hospitality. In a technology-driven culture, a few hand-penned words can go a long way. Need some vacation inspiration? Book your next trip to one of the 20 Best Cities to Visit Before You Die!
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