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9 Tips to be the Perfect Houseguest

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I love taking vacations to visit family and friends. It’s a frugal way to visit a new location, and it’s also fun to catch up with your loved ones.

Even so, staying for an extended period of time, especially in close quarters, can often be stressful for both parties.

No one wants to end a vacation on bad terms, and the whole point of a vacation is to enjoy yourself and take a break.

If you’re planning a trip to visit or stay with friends or family, here are some houseguest etiquette tips so that you keep everyone happy on your vacation.

9 Tips to be an Amazing Houseguest

1. Don’t overstay your welcome

Benjamin Franklin said that fish and guests smell after three days.

Try to keep your visits short and sweet so that you don’t overwhelm your hosts. After all, if you have any intentions of maintaining your friendship (or visiting again), you’ll want to keep your hosts happy.

2. Take day trips

Especially if you’re staying with someone for longer than three days, plan day trips to give your hosts a break.

Even if you planned this vacation to visit and spend time with your host, chances are that they’ll still need to run some errands, take care of their own household, or just relax for an hour or two.

By planning a couple day trips during your stay, you’ll give your hosts a chance to catch up on their own activities and you won’t overwhelm them with your presence.

Plan day trips so that you don't overwhelm your hosts.

3. Discuss your vacation plans before you leave your house

Make sure there are no surprises on the trip.

You’ll want to discuss the meal plan and itinerary so that you have an idea of what to pack.

It’s also a good idea to let your hosts know if anyone in your family has special medical needs, like food allergies that would require a special diet. Since my kids and I have severe food allergies, I usually offer to bring special foods.

Before travelling, ask your hosts if they want you to bring anything special, like your own towels or sheets.

If you’re staying relatively close to home, pack as many meal staples as you can. If you’re travelling too far to bring food, take your hosts out to a fancy dinner (and pay for the meal) to express your gratitude.

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4. Bring your own toiletries

Make sure that you pack basic toiletries, like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, razors, sunscreen, and bug spray, so that you don’t have to use your hosts’ products. If you have room, try to pack community things like toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, etc.

Another option is to ship items to your hosts’ home before you arrive. I’ve changed the address of my Amazon Subscribe & Save order to ship soy milk (my kids are allergic to dairy), sunscreen, toilet paper, diapers, wipes, shampoo, soap, and disposable razors.

You could also place an Amazon Prime Pantry order to ship toiletries and food. Prime Pantry often has smaller quantities than the Subscribe & Save program – perfect for a vacation!

5. Take your hosts shopping

Upon arrival, plan to shop with your hosts to pick up any additional items that you may need or want during your stay.

If you travelled a long distance, this is the perfect opportunity to buy community items that you weren’t able to pack or ship. Also, buy meal staples and perishable items to make dinner.

Make sure that you pay for the items that you purchase, especially considering that everything your host buys is most likely necessities to make your stay more comfortable.

6. Ask about cleaning supplies

When you arrive (or even as your hosts show you around their home), ask where they keep their cleaning supplies.

You’ll want to clean up after yourself daily (make your bed; wipe down the bathroom sink, shower, mirror, and toilet; sweep the floors as needed; clean the kitchen), and you should also clean and change your sheets before you head home.

Offer to help and clean up after yourself when you're a houseguest.

7. Offer to help

Help your hosts when they’re cooking and cleaning.

Even if you feel unsure of how to do certain tasks, like putting away dishes or picking up the living room, offer to help.

If you’re really nervous about making a mistake, say something like, “this is how I do it, but do you want it done a different way?”

8. Make sure your children are well-behaved

Before you arrive, talk to your kids about company-appropriate behavior. Remind them to use their manners and listen to the adults.

Also, when you arrive, ask about the house rules (like no jumping on furniture, running in the house, and daily cleanup policies) and continue to ask throughout your stay.

If your kids are getting stir crazy, distract them. Take them outside, or go on one of your planned day trips.

9. Give your hosts a gift

At the end of your stay, give your hosts a gift to thank them for the wonderful vacation.

Your gift could be anything from hand soap, candles, or wine that you brought from home to a local item that you purchased on your stay and know your hosts would love.

You could also give the gift during your stay, especially if it’s a bottle of wine that you could enjoy together over dinner. 😉

No one wants to be an annoying guest. These nine tips can help make visiting friends and family fun.

How do you plan ahead to take the stress out of vacationing?

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Stephanie Robinson

Sunday 28th of August 2016

Great tips and all of them should make the stay for everyone easier. No matter how good friends you are, or how you're related being in someone else's space takes work - and rightly so. Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

Alison Lange

Thursday 29th of September 2016

So true!


Monday 18th of July 2016

These are great things to remember when you are a house guest that will help to ensure that the invitation will be extended again.

Alison Lange

Monday 18th of July 2016

Yes, good point!

Laura Lane

Sunday 17th of July 2016

These are great tips. I've never read anything like this. I don't travel often though.

Alison Lange

Sunday 17th of July 2016

Thanks, Laura! Some of these tips (like picking up after yourself and your family) are great to do even if you're just spending an afternoon with friends. It's always embarrassing when my kids turn someone's living room into a disaster zone!