So it’s traveling season, and you have friends in all the right places. Weekend beach trip? Four days away at the lake? Use those connections! Not only is shacking up by your friend for a weekend away so much cheaper than finding a hotel, it offers you some time to reconnect with friends and family. The trick to being a great houseguest is to be so considerate, and so low-maintenance, that you are invited back, again and again.
Get the Invitation
First off, if they haven’t reached out to invite you yet, don’t invite yourself. Sure, discreetly fish for a genuine invite (emphasis on discreet), but the second you outright ask, you’ve already committed a serious houseguest faux pas, and have put your potential host in a very awkward position.
Give as much notice as possible. Impromptu trips are awesome, but not every host is excitedly trigger happy to offer up their living space. Let them know exactly how long you will be staying, and don’t arrive without hammering out exact arrival and departure times.
Come Bearing Gifts
Whether it’s simply a bottle of bubbly, a carton of delicacies, or a spray of greenery, don’t come empty handed. You don’t need to get them anything huge, or anything they even need to hang onto. If you’re unsure about their tastes or interests, bringing something small or perishable are safe bets. A bouquet of Peonies, bottle of Rose, and gourmet nuts or coffee, are all inoffensive items that can be appreciated in any home. If there is something specific to your hometown or state, bring that as an offering.
If you think you know your hosts pretty well and want to bring a more personal gift, don’t get something risky like art or home décor. Stick to things that are useable; kitchen items for those who cook; a wine stopper or liquor jigger for those who entertain; a beeswax votive for their porch table…
Make your own plans, but be flexible about your itinerary. You don’t want to be a needy burden on your hosts, but you also don’t want to fill up your time elsewhere and make them feel unwanted. Best to make sure they know that you’d love their company whenever they can swing it, but that you can be totally entertained on your own.
Leave Only Thank Yous
Your ultimate goal here is to be the house guest ninja. That’s right, you leave no trace. If anything remains of your existence in their home, make sure it’s not candy wrappers or dirty sheets (appropriately toss bedding or towels into a pillow case at the foot of your bed), but rather small reminders of your gratitude. If you drove their car when you were in town, fill up the tank. If they made your favorite cereal for you every morning, pick up some milk and a foodie thank you before you go. Leave them an art or hobby book that made you think of them while you were out and about exploring their city.
Return the Favor
Simple gestures are the most memorable and treasured, so make sure they know you appreciate them. The easiest way to do that is by inviting them to stay with you as soon as they’d like. And if you’ve played your house guest cards right, they’ll be inviting you back sooner than you could’ve guessed.