There is an expression in Spanish that loosely translated says, “House guests are like fish, after three days they stink.” But, when traveling across the country or to another country and staying with very close friends or relatives, three days is too short. Getting from place to place, say from Florida to California takes an entire day. Besides the flight time there is the “get to the airport and check-in time.” Also, with so many flights and itineraries cancelled, most long distance routes require a connection and that adds to the travel time. So visiting for three days doesn’t make sense.
Today, we don’t stay with family or friends unless they are truly close and insist upon our staying in their homes. So what can we do to insure that our home stays add to the relationship and not cause a rift? What are some things that we can do as guests in someone’s home to make being a guest a joy instead of a burden?
The first thing is to pitch in like where you are staying is your home. If you see that your hosts keep a very clean and non-cluttered-with-visible toiletries kind of bathroom, wipe up after yourself before leaving the bathroom and make sure to put your toiletries away. Then, from the hosts’ perspectives, it appears as if no one is invading their space and they can focus on being together and having fun with you, their guests. In addition, if you eat in the house, help out with the preparation and cleanup. Even if they only let you set the table or clear the dishes and keep them company while they go through their normal routine, they will have enjoyed having you as a guest even more. By no means go to your room and stay there when your host(s) make dinner or cleanup. If you are staying for more than a week, make sure to schedule a grocery shopping trip and a time to cook for your hosts. In addition, try and take them out to a meal at least once during your stay.
It is a good idea when remaining in the house during a trip to visit and stay with someone to give them space and quiet time to do their “own thing.” Perhaps they need to check email, do bookkeeping, or just take a quiet moment to read. Make yourself scarce for a while and then your presence doesn’t become overbearing. If you are in a place where you can go out and take a walk on your own, do so at least once a day.
If you can think of other suggestions on how to be a welcome house guest, please share!
Check out some suggestions for successful student home stay visits through the “People to People Student Ambassador Program.”