How to Be a Good Houseguest

The main guest room in my house. July 14, 2013.

The main guest room in my house. July 14, 2013.

When I lived in London, I had monthly houseguests. Sometimes more often. Good experiences, in some cases. In others, horrid.

The latter encounters turned me off staying in someone’s home. I still will—occasionally. Fortunately, having a number of houseguest experiences taught me how to be a good one:

  • Clean: No matter how you keep your house, be spic and span at a host’s home.

  • Plan: Don’t turn your host into a travel agent. Show up with activities you’d like to undertake.

  • Back off: Needy and clingy aren’t attractive qualities in any relationship. Schedule some alone and other-people time.

  • Respect the host’s schedule: In addition to work and personal obligations, your host may have different hours from you. If you’re a morning person and 2 a.m. means bedtime for her, don’t wake her up intentionally or by banging around.

  • House rules apply: If she prefers bare feet inside, take shoes off at entry. If she doesn’t allow human food and has other specific rules for her animals, don’t feed the cat and allow the pup to jump on your bed.

  • Contain: Do not spread belongings all over common areas.

  • Assist: Offer to assist with household chores and needs. That includes errands, if you stay long enough.

  • Hands off: Respect your host’s property and personal boundaries. Her journal sits on the desk in the living room? Don’t read it. The guest room is her home office? Stay off her computer.

  • Don’t expect service: Your host’s home is not The Four Seasons. If you want that level of service, stay there.

  • Tour solo: Have transportation and take charge of your own schedule. Your host has seen her town. Spend time with her over dinner and during cultural activities you want to experience together; your general tourist activity can happen solo.

Don’t misunderstand: A great houseguest provides joy and fun and closeness that are hard to achieve in another way. Perhaps people fumble the role because folks in today’s society visit homes so rarely.

Do you have any houseguest tips?