Whether you are traveling for summer vacation, holidays, or any other time, it’s always fun to visit your family, friends, and loved ones. Even in the best of situations, it still can be an imposition on the host. Being a house guest comes with certain etiquette and grace. Add a chronic illness and/or food allergies into the mix and it becomes even more complicated. These are the top 15 things a house guest should never do. Which one are you most guilty of?
Let me begin by being the first one to raise my hand. Guilty on all counts. Seriously.
I’ve had many years of traveling and breaking all of the etiquette rules and seeing the other side hosting family and friends. This isn’t about judgment, it’s about sharing lessons learned. Especially after having to travel with debilitating fatigue and food allergies, it adds a whole new complication to the mix.
The one thing that is necessary above all else – communication. Communication both before and during your visit. Ensure open communication and set expectations.
15 Things a House Guest Should Never Do
1. Arrive empty-handed
It is ok to arrive empty-handed. Just make sure that you give a hostess gift either when you arrive, during the visit, or soon thereafter. Extra bonus points if you bring a little something for the kids in your suitcase. If you aren’t sure what to give, take the time to notice what they like. One time, we traveled to friends of Hubby Carter, and I wasn’t as familiar with the family. I noticed their coffee addiction and sent a gift-box of coffee immediately after.
2. Leave a bunch of clutter around
This one can be difficult, especially if you rely on your accoutrements to stay healthy. Try to keep as much of your stuff as you can, contained in your guest room. Ask ahead of time if you require space in the fridge or pantry.
3. Ignore the house rules
Make sure you know the house rules. What time does everyone go to bed or wake up in the morning? What lights stay on/off? What are the rules for the children and pets? Shoes on or shoes off? It’s also good to inquire about alarm systems, locking up, etc. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not. Be considerate of your host’s house rules.
4. Be clingy
During the down-times of your visit, don’t follow your host around the house. Bring a book or something else to keep you self-sustained. No one needs a Stage 4 Clingy house guest. Give your host some space.
5. Expect to be entertained
If your host lives in a travel destination, don’t expect them to take off work or to schlep around all day with you sight-seeing. Make your own plans for doing the tourist stuff and give your host the option to join you but don’t expect them to. They live there. They have probably “been there done that” a million times.
6. Expect your host to be the maid
When I started babysitting, Mamma Fortitude always told me to leave the house cleaner than what it was when I got there. Clean up after yourself. Clean up the bathroom every day. Wash the dishes in the sink, even if you didn’t make them dirty. Before you leave, either make the bed or strip the bed and leave a contained pile of linens and dirty towels. Be considerate, but don’t go weirdly overboard. If you break out the vacuum cleaner or start dusting, your host may think that you find their home dirty and be offended.
7. Expect the host to be your chef
Especially if you have food issues, don’t expect your host to do all of the cooking. Either bring your special food along or plan a trip to the grocery store when you arrive. Purchase all of your specialty food items, and offer to cook. It’s also nice to take the host family out to dinner. Communicate any food allergies but you are responsible for keeping yourself healthy. Communicate with your host about where you can keep and prep your food safely without disturbing the natural flow. It’s a delicate balance between being safe and imposing on the host. Remember, they have a system in place. Even well-intended, someone in the host family may forget and inadvertently prepare or eat something in your spot.
Seriously. Your host is giving up their home and their space and their routine for you. Regardless of the situation, don’t complain. You’re a guest in their home. Act like it. If it doesn’t work out, either move to a hotel or plan on staying at one the next time.
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9. Show up with your pet without asking first
Don’t just assume that Fluffy and Fido can come along. Whether the host has pets of their own or not, it’s always best to ask first. If they say no, don’t argue. Find alternate arrangements for your fur babies.
10. Use their computer or other personal items without asking
Many guest rooms double as an office. Don’t assume that just because a computer is there, that it’s yours to use. Ask first. This goes for any personal items in the guest room.
11. Be a snob
Your host is opening their home to you. If it’s not as nice as your home, or as clean as yours, or whatever, don’t be a snob. If they have a different way of handling their children or pets, don’t interfere. Keep your opinions to yourself. It’s none of your business how they live. It is your business to be gracious.
12. Expect to use their car. Or borrow it and leave it on empty
If you are not traveling by car and you will need a car during your stay, don’t assume that you can use theirs. You can get a rental car or use a ride-share service. If you do borrow their car, fill it up when you are finished, regardless of where the tank was at to begin with. Bonus points if you take it through the car wash.
13. Be loud with TV, music, etc
Mostly this is for the evening (especially if there are time zone differences), but in general, be mindful of the noise. Keep it down, and remember that even if the noise seems low, that it will travel throughout the house. Bonus points if you use your earbuds.
14. Be inconsiderate with their time schedule
Your host has a schedule. They may need to get up and go to work. They might be planning a meal at a certain time. They may wish for lights out earlier than you prefer. Be considerate of their time. Don’t jump in the shower if you know they are trying to get to work. Don’t show up late. Don’t make them wait for you.
15. Not be gracious
All of these really culminate in this final one. You are a guest in their home. Be a gracious house guest. Regardless of the situation, be gracious. And let me say it again. Be gracious.
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