Lodging is one of the biggest expenses when planning a trip or vacation. Due to that fact, you may feel inclined to reduce those costs by staying with friends or family. Nowadays, there are other options like couch surfing, staying with a host family or a local stay.
There may be a wide array of options but there is one commonality. You are staying at someone else’s house.
In my experience, most family members (or long time friends) would be more than happy to host you for a couple of days. However, things can turn sour pretty quick if you do take the necessary precautions or manage your expectation in a realistic way.
Here are some tips (and things to consider) when dealing with the situation.
– Consider you are disrupting your host’s routine and adding stress during those days. You are on vacation or holiday but your host is not. He or she has to work, do chores, run errands, take care of the kids and on top of that, deal with you. Are you sure he / she is going to be able to cope with that?
– Consider your family’s house or apartment size. Is it reasonable to bring a family of four into a small apartment or house? Make sure you are not asking for too much.
– Ask to stay. Don’t invite yourself, drop by or force your friends to have you. This is a recipe for disaster.
– Be prepared for rejection (have a plan B).
– Give your host enough time notice. They may need to prepare or make arrangements.
– Consider your friend may need to discuss the possibility of a stay with his / her significant other. Respect this.
– State clearly the amount of time you are going to stay.
– Ask if you need to bring something for you personal use or entertainment. For example, I lived alone for some time. When my family visited, I asked them to bring their own towels since I didn’t have enough for everybody.
– Discuss food arrangements. A lot of times, hosts will share their meals with you. However, you should not assume it is going to be like that or that they are going to provide every meal of the day.
– Related to the previous bullet, go to the supermarket (or ask your host to take you) to get breakfast items, drinks, snacks or similar stuff according to your preferences. You will feel less limited if hunger attacks.
– Ask your host if he / she can pick you up from the airport or bus station. Don’t assume this is a given.
– Bring a gift (preferably, something your hosts can use).
– Show good manners and be courteous.
– Offer your help on daily chores like cooking, washing dishes or sweeping the floors.
– Maintain the area where you are sleeping nice and tidy. If you are sleeping in the living room, prepare the place for day use in the morning or before leaving the house.
– Leave clean all the spaces of the house you use.
– Accommodate luggage in an appropriate place.
– Ask permission to use appliances (example, washing machine, dryer, blender).
– If you damage something, offer to pay for it or replace it.
– Show appreciation every time something is provided.
– Follow your hosts’ instructions or rules.
– Make your own plans. This will take pressure off your hosts’ shoulders.
– You should really offer your hosts a monetary contribution. During your stay, you are consuming things and making a dent in the utilities bill. Plus, your host may be taking you around and inviting you to eat out. Therefore, think about a fair amount to offer them (it doesn’t matter if you think they are financially stable or if they invited you).
– If your hosts offer to drive you around, for courtesy reasons, you should offer to pay for something like gas, parking or lunch.
– If your hosts offer to show you around, make sure they understand where you want to go. Your idea and their idea of the must see items may be very different. It may be better to visit certain places by yourself.
– Leave a thank you or send them a card by mail. The old fashion stuff works better in this case.
– Assume anything. When in doubt, ask.
– Assume your hosts are going to take time off from work to show you around.
– Assume you can use your family’s car for your personal use. In other words, you should make your own transportation arrangements.
– Assume you are going to have the same privacy as in a hotel room.
– Assume your family is going to pay for attractions’ entrance costs or tours. Don’t assume this even if they are going with you to certain place.
– Move around house items or personal papers.
– Touch or manipulate what you are not supposed to touch (example, collections, rare or expensive items).
– Be nosy. There is no reason to be looking into closets, closed bedrooms, bathroom cabinets, etc.
– Read the correspondence.
– Keep your host late if he / she has to work the next day.
– Use the bathroom when your host needs to prepare for work.
– Assume you can make unlimited use of the computers or phones in the house.
– Make unnecessary noise.
– Be in a bad or negative mood.
– Criticize you friend during your stay. This is very rude for obvious reasons. If your host overhears you, the relationship can be damaged.
– Get into personal arguments.
– Argue or fight in front of your hosts.
– Feed your family’s pet inappropriate food.
– Use your hosts’ personal hygiene items. Toothbrushes nail clippers, combs, hair brushes, makeup and similar items are off limits.
– Overstay (unless there is an emergency).
– Assume you can stay as many times as you want.
What else you would add to the list?