One of the tips on how to save money while on vacation is always “stay with family or friends.” It’s a frugal way to visit a new location and it’s a fun catching up with friends and family. But I’ve found that staying for an extended period of time, especially in close quarters, can be stressful for both the “guest” and the “host.” Having been both the guest and the host through the years has given me some insight into what constitutes the “perfect houseguest.” If you’re planning a trip to visit or stay with friends or family, follow the 10 Commandments for Houseguests to ensure your stay goes smoothly.
10 Commandments for Houseguests
I. Thou shalt discuss your vacation plans before you leave home
Before traveling, ask your hosts if they want you to bring anything special. My sister in Georgia always requests a certain kind of black licorice candy that she dearly loves and can’t find where she lives. (I think she looks forward to the candy as much as she does to my visit.)
II. Thou shalt take your hosts shopping
Plan a grocery stop to help with the food staples and to pick up any additional items that you may need during your stay. I’ve always said my teenagers can eat me out of house and home or my littles ones are picky eaters. A trip to the local grocery store will solve that problem.
III. Thou shalt ask about cleaning supplies
You’ll want to clean up after yourself daily—make the bed, wipe down the bathroom sink, shower, mirror, and toilet, clean the kitchen. When you leave you should change your sheets. My daughter-in-law just wants me to put the bedding in the washer and start the machine on the morning of our departure. She finishes it up.
IIII. Thou shalt bring your own toiletries
Make sure that you pack basic toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, razors, sunscreen, and bug repellent, so that you don’t have to use your hosts’ products.
V. Thou shalt make sure your children are well-behaved
Before you arrive, talk to your kids about appropriate behavior. Remind them to use their manners and listen to the adults. Many of the same rules from home apply while visiting such as no jumping on the furniture, no running in the house, picking up your messes. Ask your hosts about special rules that may apply such as making sure doors are closed so beloved pets don’t get out. Continue to remind your children of the rules throughout your stay.
VI. Thou shalt offer to help
Help your hosts when they’re cooking and cleaning. Even if you feel unsure of how to do certain tasks, like putting away dishes or picking up the living room, offer to help. If you’re really nervous about making a mistake, say something like, “this is how I do it, but do you want it done a different way?”
VII. Thou shalt take day trips
Day trips give your hosts a break. Even if you planned this vacation to visit and spend time with your host, chances are that they’ll still need to run some errands or just relax for an hour or two. By planning a couple day trips during your stay, you’ll give your hosts a chance to catch up on their own activities and you won’t overwhelm them with your presence.
I often visit my son and his family during the winter. The kids are in school and my son and daughter-in-law both work. By planning a couple of day trips while I’m there they don’t feel guilty about not taking off time to entertain me.
VIII. Thou shalt give your hosts a break
Take you hosts out to a breakfast/lunch/dinner while you’re there to express your gratitude. Sometimes taking every out to eat can get expensive and blow the whole “frugal” aspect. Another idea is to offer to babysit while your hosts sneak away for a “date night.”
IX. Thou shalt give your hosts a gift
At the end of your stay, give your hosts a gift to thank them for the wonderful vacation. Your gift could be anything from French-milled hand soap to locally-produced wine/beer. My hobby (besides traveling) is sewing. I often make something. I usually try to make it something practical.
X. Thou shalt not overstay your welcome
Benjamin Franklin said that fish and guests smell after three days. Try to keep your visits short so that you don’t overstay your welcome.
I’ve always love visiting friends and family when I travel. No one wants to be an annoying guest or to end a vacation on bad terms. With these tips, I don’t have to stress about being a good guest!
Following the 10 Commandments for Houseguests will help insure the invitation will be extended again.