This is the first post in “The Best Guest” series, and I am so excited to get started! The first thing you need to think about when you will be someone’s house guest, whether traveling a few hours away from home, or internationally, is information. You need to communicate clearly, and let your host know all of your travel information including what time you plan to arrive, any bus, plane, or train information, and length of time you plan to stay including your departure date. Maybe you are just in the planning stages of your trip so you don’t have all of the details yet. That is ok, you can give your host some time frames to choose from.
The second thing you want to communicate are your personal expectations for taking this trip. I already covered this on the host side of things in another post, but it is really important so I don’t mind repeating myself. You need to let your host know exactly what you plan on doing time wise. In other words if you plan on spending 5 out of 7 days sight seeing, make sure you tell them that. If you need transportation while you are there, let them know and ask them what the best options are. Let them know of any plans that might involve them financially. For instance if you plan on taking your hosts out to dinner, tell them that you plan on taking them out your treat. That way they won’t feel obligated to budget for a night out, and it takes the pressure off of them in case they don’t have that kind of money in their budget. If you cannot afford to pay for your hosts meal when you invite them out, make sure they know they can say no and you won’t be offended. Every family has a different financial situation, and as guests, we have to be very sensitive to that fact.
A few things you should never do as a guest:
-Never expect your host to double as your tour guide. Many hosts will offer to do this for you, and of course you should take them up on it if they offer, but some people you visit will not be able to take off work as much as you have for your vacation. In addition visiting the same sites over and over again can become very costly. It is polite however to ask if they can point you in the right direction or perhaps suggest a good place to go for an actual tour guide.
-Never make your host feel like an afterthought or free place to stay. If you are someone’s guest, you need to make them just as high of a priority (if not higher) as enjoying your destination. I’ve heard of hosts having such a bad experience with guests coming just to see the destination that they started asking people, “Are you coming to see me, or the place where I live?” We should never put our gracious hosts in such an uncomfortable position! If you don’t want to spend time with someone, get a hotel room. You won’t have as rich of an experience because locals always know better, but at least you won’t risk offending a friend.
-Don’t pressure your host into any awkward situations. I know of a circumstance where someone’s guest was on vacation and wanted to travel around while they were visiting and insisted the host family go along with them. The guest paid for the fuel and lodgings, but the family had to pay for everything else and they really didn’t have any extra money. It was a really awkward situation and the tension that the trip caused created a huge argument between the two parties resulting with the whole visit ending on a sour note. That is not the kind of thing you want someone to think of when they remember your visit.
I’m sorry to bring up such unpleasant examples, but we can learn as much from the bad examples as we can from the good. I promise that if you follow these few guidelines, you will not be an offensive guest, and your trip will be much more enjoyable, for you and your host!
Here is a quick breakdown of the rest of the topics I will be covering in this series (make sure to check out the Series page for updates in this series):
I really hope this series will bless you and help you to avoid the mistakes that I and others have made in the past. We have had some amazing guests come stay with us, and I think each of us can always improve in this area. Have a great week and Happy Travels!