“Fish and visitors smell after three days.” —Benjamin Franklin
As we enjoy spring break and summer approaches, many of us will visit friends and family and be tempted to actually stay with them—my advice, don’t. Get the hotel room and everyone will be happier. However, if you must, here’s some advice to preserve the relationship.
1. Bring a Small Gift
Start the visit off right. Often called a hostess gift, a cute little plant, decorative frame, or even a bottle of wine goes a long way. It’ll show you thought about your visit ahead of time, and knew it was appropriate to be gracious.
2. Take Your Own Toiletries—Seriously
This might be one of the more important of the steps–bring your own stuff: Hairspray, mouthwash, toothpaste—whatever you use during your daily bathroom routine. The less you have to ask of your hosts, the less you’ll seem like a burden.
3. Cover the Majority of the Meals
It doesn’t have to be dinner at Morton’s steakhouse every night—just offer to get Starbucks in the morning. Pick up snacks for the house. Ordering a pizza? You pay. Maybe on the final night, take everyone out to a nice dinner. Remember, you’re saving hundreds of dollars on hotel bills.
4. Give Your Hosts Some Alone Time
They’ll probably act like they want to be around you every moment. They don’t. Get out and about often so you aren’t completely crowding their style. If you don’t have a car, walk, or take public transportation. Make your hosts WANT to see you.
5. Avoid Calling the Shots
Let your hosts have the most input on what happens. Do they want to take you to a new restaurant? Don’t argue. Go to a museum? Sure, why not? They’re excited to show you their city, and since they’re the locals, they know better than you.
6. House Rules: Learn ’em, Live ’em
Every house has house rules—when you’re staying at someone’s house, find out what they are. If your hosts are late risers, respect that and keep it down until they’re up and about. Do they take off their shoes in the foyer? If they do, so do you—at least for this stay.
7. Clean Up Your Mess!
This one really is tantamount. Sounds simple enough, right? Make a mess, clean it up! Depending on how long you’re staying, this can be harder than it sounds. Naturally, you’ll want to throw away any garbage, but also put things back where they belong: blankets, pillows, bottles of anything you’ve used in the bathroom. The more you clean up after yourselves, the better your chances of getting invited back.
…and 5 things you can do to thank them for your stay
1. Leave a surprise gift card somewhere where they’ll find it.
2. Buy some fresh flowers and leave them in a vase.
3. Leave a bottle of their favorite wine or spirit.
4. Get yourself to the airport if need be—shuttles, cab, or car service.
5. Leave a heartfelt thank-you note on your pillow.
Photo credit: Nathan Colquhoun via Flickr
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