Staying with someone is a great way to save money while traveling. But there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to be a better house guest.
Whether you are an overnight couchsurfer, or are staying for months on end with someone, the most important thing to remember is that you are traveling and your hosts are not.
They probably have work to get done, chores to do, bedtimes and things that they want to watch on television.
As someone who has traveled a lot, and also someone who has played hostess to a never-ending line of traveling friends, here is my list of easy ways to be a better house guest.
Don’t make a mess
Keep your things neat and tidy, even if your host is a slob. Even sloppy folks have their own organization systems, whether you can see them or not. This should really go without saying, but please, keep an eye on what you’re putting down on the counter or in the bathroom — and pick up after yourself. Make your bed every morning. Try to keep your luggage from exploding all over the floor.
Want to be a better house guest? It starts with being aware.
Throw in some money for food
If you can afford to, throw in for rent or food while you’re there.
Help replace the things you’re helping to use up, whether it’s toilet paper, a six-pack of beer, or snacks. Most homes throughout the world are on some budget or another, and when you add an extra person to that, it can be stressful.
Do your own dishes and laundry
For the love of god, do your own dishes. There is nothing more disgusting and disheartening than waking up to a sink full of someone else’s dirty dishes.
If you make your host’s life hard while you’re staying there, not only will they be far less likely to invite you back, but they will also be far less likely to house the next person who comes through town.
Don’t monopolize electronic equipment
I know, I know, you haven’t checked your email in a week and there’s this show you want to watch and everyone needs some down-time every once in a while… but this is your host’s home! Make sure that you aren’t hogging things that they use regularly.
If you’ve already watched a whole movie, played video games for an hour, or been online for an hour or more, it’s time to shut it down!
Hang out with your host
There are things you want to see and do while you’re here, include your host in your plans!
They agreed to have you sleep in their home, and that’s probably because they like hanging out with you. You don’t have to take them everywhere or work all of your plans around their work schedules, but make it a point to include them in a few things while you’re there. At the very least, give them the option to come with you.
Know when to give them some space
If you’ve been in someone’s home for more than a few days, plan to spend a whole day somewhere else, preferably while your host will be able to utilize the time. If you know it’s your host’s day off and you don’t have plans with them, make your own plans and let them be in their own space for a while without you.
Be quiet at night
If your host (or their neighbors) are in bed, you should be quiet.
Beyond all of the above, always adhere to the rules of the house.
Be courteous and abide by the ground rules (stated or implied) your host lives by.
They don’t smoke in the house, you don’t smoke in the house. If they don’t watch television, you don’t watch television. They recycle, you recycle. Ask about house rules when you arrive so that you are less likely to offend.
Leave the space better than you found it
That might mean doing a full clean while your host is away. It might mean just cleaning out their fridge or re-organizing it. What can you do that your host would appreciate? What can you do to show your appreciation? Asking these questions makes you be a better house guest.