We’ve all had those guests. You know, the ones that show up empty handed, break that dish passed down from grandma and turn that recently cleaned guestroom into an episode of Hoarders? But it doesn’t have to be that way!
In the honor of all the gracious hosts opening up their apartments, beach houses and lake cabins this summer, we’ve put together the ten commandments of being a great house guest. Happy travels!
Rule #1: Always Bring a Gift
It doesn’t need to be extravagant, but it should be thoughtful. Bring a nice bottle of wine or a specialty food from your hometown. Does your host love baking? Skateboarding? Decorating? Buy a gift that shows you know and appreciate them. Bonus Points: Pick up a small token of thanks while you’re out and about during your stay. Out at a farmer’s market? Bring home some heirloom tomatoes or jam. Pass a fishmonger? Pick up some fresh shrimp. Neither cost much, but they’ll be deeply appreciated.
Rule #2: Clearly Communicate Your Arrival and Departure Time
The logistics of hosting guests can be tough—being sure the laundry is done, the guest room is made up, the meals planned out and the fridge stocked, all in time for your arrival. Be sure to let your hosts know when you’ll be arriving and stick to it so that they can plan accordingly. Also be sure not to overstay your welcome. As tempting as it can be to call in sick for one more day at the beach, remember Ben Franklin’s maxim: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
Rule #3: Set Expectations
Always err on the side of over-communicating. You may have been invited for the weekend, but it’s important to clarify whether that invitation also includes your significant other, pets, and/or kids. Never show up with unannounced guests or pets.
Rule #4: Go With the Flow
Try to get a sense of the house rhythms. Are your hosts early risers? Do they like to linger late over drinks or turn in early? Do they wear shoes in the house? Do they smoke outside, inside or at all? It’s easy to pick up on their preferences and go with the flow.
Rule #5: Help Out
Try to help out as if you were a roommate as opposed to a guest. Always offer to help set the table, cook, clear your plates and wash up. Some hosts prefer to handle some or all of those tasks themselves, but they’ll always appreciate the offer.
Rule #6: Keep It Clean
Make your bed every day, keep your clothes in the closet or your suitcase, and refrain from cluttering up the bathroom, particularly if it’s a shared space. Also try to keep your personal items confined to your room instead of littering the common areas.
Rule #7: Keep It Covered
PJs or undies may be appropriate breakfast attire in your own house, but it’s always best to err on the side of modesty when you’re in someone else’s home. Wear a robe (instead of a towel) when walking from the shower to your room and throw on shorts and a tee whenever you’re out of your guest room.
Rule #8: Entertain Yourself
No matter how close you are to your hosts, it’s nice to give all parties a little breathing room now and then. Go for a walk on your own, check out the sites, etc. Be independent but also be mindful if your host has planned activities or meals.
Rule #9: Depart Gracefully
Leave your room as you found it, wipe down the sink and double check to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Ask your hosts what to do with your bedding. Our preference? We like when guests remove the sheets, put them in the laundry basket and pull the blanket back up so the bed looks nice.
Rule #10: Say Thank You…the Right Way
Your host put a lot of effort into your stay, so we think the thank you should follow suit. Dropping a handwritten Thank You note into the mail is a nice way to show your appreciation.