October 21, 2014

Guest Etiquette 101

We’ve all been there. Staying with friends and family during vacations, for long-distance medical care or even during family reunions can bring about a fair amount of drama, no matter how grateful everyone is to see each other. Space can be tight and agendas will most assuredly differ, resulting in the need for extra care to be taken on the part of the houseguest. You’re staying there for free, remember? The burden for behavioral adjustment really does lie with you. Here are our top Trek Hound tips relating to guest etiquette.

Offer Assistance:

It’s certainly not your responsibility to function as a free cleaning service if you’ve been invited to stay. That being said, offering to help with dishes or to include additional household items in a load of laundry you might be doing is sort of guest etiquette 101.  Also, if a snag occurs due to your presence and your host is off at work for the day, you should do your best to try and fix the issue. For example, when we were hanging with a friend of ours for the Thanksgiving holiday in Quito, Ecuador, the gas canister used to supply the oven and stovetop with heat ran dry.

Since we knew our host had handled extra cooking duties to prepare for our arrival and that she would also be hosting a dinner party later that evening, we took it upon ourselves to flag down the gas truck when it made its morning rounds in her neighborhood. The issue was solved before she ever arrived home from work.

Respect Your Host’s Schedule:

Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean your host is. Hopping in the shower when breadwinners need to be getting ready for work and asking a million questions during morning rush hour when Mom is getting the kids ready for the school bus is definitely annoying, regardless of whether or not your host bothers to point it out to you. If the people you are staying with work at home, it isn’t appropriate to interrupt them there anymore than it would be to call them at a traditional office to ask for tourist support. If you’re visiting people who live in a popular tourist destination, chances are they’re used to hosting guests on a regular basis. That means you’re likely to find informational packets in your guest room, or a home manual for visitors.

Try Not to Make Too Much of an Impact:

If you’re landing with a large group, letting your teenagers run rough shot with the hot water and electricity is a no-no. Certainly, your hosts will want you to feel welcome and comfortable. But finding a load of sopping wet laundry in the dryer that’s already run through five times because a pre-teen wasn’t supervised may result in you never being invited again. Ditto with the open window in the guest room while you run the heating or air conditioning to extremes. If you feel like it would be appreciated, and the length of your stay has been significant, discreetly restock things like toilet paper, laundry detergent and pantry staples prior to your departure.

Gifts Are a Nice Gesture:

People like to feel appreciated when you visit, which is why I have a repertoire of hostess gifts that I personally like to give when I visit friends, family and acquaintances. Kitchen candles, dinner wine and unisex spa supplies are great for consumables, and when we visit expat friends abroad we’re always sure to bring a supply of items they are unable to purchase in their host country. Chocolate chips, peanut butter and even a favorite facial cleanser have all made the wish lists of numerous hosts over the years.

These are some general rules of thumb and by no means serve as a comprehensive guide to guest etiquette. They will however get you on the right track if you are new to traveling in general.

Photo Credit: Evil Erin