Staying with someone other than your family can be a whole new experience for both you and your host. Here are simple tips to help you be the perfect houseguest every host will look forward to recieving.

What makes you a good house guest?

It’s been 3 weeks since you accepted a friend’s 5-day business stay request. She’s representing her organization at a 4-day conference and will be arriving in less than 2 hours. The room she’ll be staying in is prepped, you’re making a few hundred bucks and are excited to be receiving a houseguest. You’re pumped.

Fast forward three days and you‘re convinced she’s the worst house guest you’ve ever had and just can’t wait for her to leave. Aside from other not-so-pleasant behaviors and funny requests at odd hours of the day, your guest somehow managed to break a tap, always left the lights and A.C unit on and took over the living room with architectural drawings.

An untidy house guest can be a nightmare to host

The difference between a good house guest and a bad house guest is in manners and proper etiquette.

Knowing the proper way to behave, interact and co-exist with your host (and their family too, sometimes) makes all the difference. Having a clear understanding of limits, boundaries, what’s proper and what isn’t will go a long way in determining how well your stay will go.

Even if you’re a friend on a friendship stay for the weekend or a business traveler on a business stay for the week, there are appropriate and etiquette driven ways to live with and treat your hosts. While not all hosts will receive you the same way, the chances of someone who is willing to open their homes to you being difficult and unbearable is very low. Be that as it may, there’s no excuse for bad behavior.

A good house guest should always strive to be on their best behavior such that your host, whether friend, distant friend or stranger will always be willing to host you over and over again even at short notice.

Here are 6 ways to treat your hosts and be the perfect house guest for a friendship or business stay.

1. Never Arrive Empty-Handed

It is a show of courtesy and appreciation to arrive at your host’s door with a simple gift. A bottle of wine or any other simple gift (if you’re not sure if your host takes alcohol) will show your thoughtfulness and appreciation. They’ve gone out of their way to prepare a bed, towels, sometimes a welcome meal for you to make your stay as comfy as possible; it is only proper to show your gratitude and appreciation.

A gift for your host shows thoughtfulness and sets a positive tone for the rest of your stay

2. Always Communicate

Before you arrive, you should provide as much of your plans and itinerary as possible to your host. You’ll be busy with work meetings during the day and likely also at night, they’ll have busy lives to fit in hosting you - it’s essential that you’ve communicated each other’s life responsibilities before arrival so that there are no surprises. Once you’re settled and if you’re still up for it the same day, it is important to have a discussion with your host to make sure you’re also on the same page re: your plans and activities for the period of time you’ll be staying with them.

It might seem like you’re divulging too much too early but look at it this way, your host knows the area well enough to safely direct you and help you locate where the concert or business seminar you in town for is holding, and the more communication there is the less unknowns that will pop up. This makes the whole experience less stressful and easier. They can also provide you with time-saving tips on how to avoid traffic, navigate the area and stay safe amongst other things. They may even offer to be your personal tour guide and if your destination is not too far off their route, offer to drop/pick you up saving you money and stress.

Communicate clearly with your host about your schedules annd their restrictions if any

Also, sharing your itinerary with your host will help them plan and schedule their time and resources properly. Breaking the ice will let you both get comfortable with each other and start to enjoy the stay; you’re going to be living together so you might as well enjoy the company right? As a guest, a conversation with your host can help you understand your host and what type of person he/she. That way, you can avoid any conflict and negative experiences.

3. Be Prepared For Your Stay

As a business traveler, you might have gotten used to roomservice and the convenience of dialing the hotel restaurant for an extra wine glass.. but remember that your host most likely doesn’t own a hotel and is not a room service personnel. You’re staying in a home and your host is not there to serve you.

An unprepared house guest is a demanding house guest and most times, a disturbing one too. Always try to come prepared as much as possible by coming along with your toiletries and other personal grooming items. You’ll always have the basics but if you have specific preferences, it would make a lot of sense to come with your own items. Expecting your hosts to provide you with a toothbrush, toothpaste and an extra pair of socks is rude. Don’t expect your hosts to do any of the planning and arrangement for your personal needs.

Ensure you pack properly and in time to avoid forgetting anything including the little essentials

Don’t arrive thinking your stay comes with meals ready to eat. Make your own arrangements especially if you’re a picky eater or you’re on a diet. Don’t put undue stress on your hosts by expecting them to have honey instead of sugar or stock vegan products because you are a vegan. When you’re settled, ask for the nearest store or grocery shop and go get your items if you didn’t bring them.

Take a quick trip to the grocery store if you have preferences.

4. Respect Personal Spaces and Local Cultures

Be conscious of your host’s personal space and don’t crowd them in. That you are wide awake and in the mood for a conversation doesn’t mean everyone else is. Also remember that you host also has a job, family, and commitments; expecting them to join you in an activity, drop you off or pick you up may be inconvenient for your hosts at that time. It is easier to plan your activities solo so no one is put on the spot with unexpected requests.

Be respectful of local cultures, religions, and traditions especially if you’re staying with someone who doesn’t share your religion or culture. Depending on the country or race, many people have their beliefs which you should try to respect. You should endeavor to act in a manner that will not come across as offensive to your host - this can mean a bit of prep work before visiting if it’s a culture you’re unfamiliar with. A good way to avoid conflict is to ask for house rules from the day of arrival. Doing this will give you a heads up on what and what not to do.

Be respectful of local cultures, religions, and traditions 

See your host’s culture as fun experiences that would make for good stories when you get back home. Experience and learn the culture, try to speak the local language; gestures like this will help your hosts open up to you and make your stay a memorable one.

5.  Help Out Where Necessary

It is not okay to expect everything to be done for you or brought to you. It is totally not okay to expect your hosts to clean up after you either. Offer to assist with chores from time to time. If you’re sharing meals, offer to help in the kitchen with the cooking or even volunteer to cook your special delicacy.

Helping your hosts with chores is not a bad idea. You're pretty much friends already right?

Even when your hosts refuses your help, the least you can do is to make sure your room is neat and tidy and everything is where they should be including your tie and socks. Littering your room with clothes, plastic wrappers, and other odds and ends is not cool and at the very least embarrassing to you. Be sure to lay the bed and keep your room in top condition at all times.

If possible, offer to go on a grocery run for supplies, take the dog for a walk or any way you can lend a helping hand.

6.  Remember to say “Thank you”

Your stay has come to an end and you’re back home but it shouldn’t end there. A ‘Thank you” note, phone call or email would go a long way in showing your appreciation to your hosts for opening up their homes to receive you. It also puts you in a good light with your hosts.

A note of thanks to your host goes a long way!