Be a grateful guest when staying overnight

In my last entry, I shared tips on how to be a gracious hostess when having overnight guests. Now it is time to turn the tables and share how you can make sure you are not a burden to your hosts. The principles are the same – communication is key!

1. Prepare your host appropriately for your arrival.

  • Be accurate with your arrival/departure plans. Showing up early can cause problems – they want to be sure they are ready for you. And showing up late is just rude. You don’t want them to spend hours waiting for you.
  • Notify your host ahead of time of any special needs. It seems like a given, but make sure that it is ok before you bring pets, or children. If you have any allergies, make sure that your host is able to accommodate your needs. If you have any disability or any physical needs, or if you need more privacy that they will need to accommodate, make arrangements beforehand.
  • Also, if your host offers you their own bed, you should decline. Of course, if you have a disability or injury, are an elderly person, or have children that need a confined space, this is a definite exception. But, as much as your host may love having you live with them, it is still a sacrifice to provide for you. You should make it as pain-free as possible.

2. Spend time with your host. As I said in the previous post, this issue alone can cause the most hurt feelings or resentment of anything else. You are imposing on their time and space. Make sure that you are not just using your host as a hotel. You should make yourself available when possible. Spend time with them, visit, make your stay feel like it’s all about them, even if you do have to leave at times for other activities. On the flip side, if you are only coming to visit them, be aware of their time constraints. They may need to work, or have other obligations. A good host will clear time in their calendar to make time for you. But, you should never expect them to spend their days entertaining you. Ensure that everyone knows what time you’ll spend together, and make sure you have other plans lined up for when they are unable to dote on you.

3. Know the house rules. Your hosts want you to feel at home. But, they also have a certain way that they run their home, and certain expectations. Please be aware of these things. Of course, you should talk through things like lights-out times, waking times, refrigerator rules. But also pay attention to how things are done. Is everyone up and at them first thing in the morning? Your host may resent it if you are laying around ‘til noon. Are all the towels hung nicely in the bathroom? Toilet seat down? They should be that way when you leave it as well.

4. Don’t be a burden. Offer to help out around the house. You can set the table, help cook the meals, keep your area clean. Offer to buy meals, whether cooking in or going out. When you leave, it’s helpful to strip the bedding from the bed so it is ready to be washed. Fold the blankets and straighten anything that may have been misplaced.

5. Show your gratitude. Bring your host a gift when you arrive. Flowers, a bottle of wine, or a special item you know they will like. If they’re cooking for you, say thank you after each meal. Did they take a day off of work, or give up something of their own to spend the day showing you around town? Let them know you appreciated it. And after you’ve left, send them a thank you card to tell them how much you loved spending time with them. Even better to include a photo of you hanging out with them as a memory of your time together.

Have I missed anything? How do you show your gratitude?

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