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How to Be a Great Houseguest

Updated on August 30, 2016

Make the Request to be a Houseguest

Sometimes, when you are traveling, you will be crossing the paths with people you know. If you feel comfortable enough, you might even get to stay with them.

The hardest part for some is to make the request. I have learned to not beat around the bush, but to get to the point and ask the question.

"I am going to be in your town for x amount of days. Is there a chance I could stay with you for some/all of the time that I am there?" Usually is sufficient.

If the answer is no, thank them, still offer to see them, and get off the phone so that you might call someone else in the area.

If the answer is yes, explain how long you will be there, if there is anything else that you will need, and then ask if there is anything that you can bring to them, citing examples. I always follow up with a letter, postcard, and/or email to make sure that we are all on the same page.


Remind Your Hosts that You Are Going to be Their Houseguest

If I have less than a week until I arrive, I call the day before to remind my hosts that I will be there, and to ask again if there is anything that I can bring. If I have more than a week, I send a reminder post card or email one week before, and then again one night before.

One time, a dear friend asked if I was going to have a car at my disposal. I said that I was, and she laughed and said "If you could, on your way in, please get some milk. We are always out of milk and bread." I brought milk, and I brought bread, 2 gallons of milk and 2 loaves of bread. If you are asked to bring something, make sure that you find out if a brand or a size matters.

Always Bring Gifts as a Houseguest

Small tokens of thoughtfulness are always appreciated. Even if my hosts tell me that they do not need me to bring anything, I make a point to bring one small gift for each person in the house. Gift wrapped is better, but if you are going through security, place some gift bags and tissue in your bag to do your presents later.

Some great gift ideas are:

  • Things from where you live, such as postcards or magnets
  • Small games for children that are easily used or understood
  • Books that are relevant to your hosts' interests or a lovely coffee table book
  • Snacks that you know they will enjoy
  • If they celebrate Christmas, an ornament from your town or area

I always tuck a few extra gifts in my bag in case there are people I did not know about, or if one of the things that I selected broke in transit. Great neutral gifts are playing cards, again magnets, local snacks and food treats and key rings.


The Best Houseguest Will Always Leave it Clean

When you are a guest in someone's home, leave it clean.

  • If you make a sandwich, put everything away and wipe down the counter.
  • If the dishwasher is full, unload it when it finishes running. If there are dishes in the sink, hand wash them and set them in the drain board.
  • If there are empty pet bowls, don't refill them without the owner's consent.

Bathroom etiquette:

  1. Don't leave it worse than before you walked in.
  2. Put your dirty clothes back in the room with you.
  3. Don't leave your clothing on the floor.
  4. Empty the trash if you put anything in the trash.
  5. Rinse out the tub, even if you only got a shower.
  6. FLUSH the commode. Amazing how many people forget.
  7. Use the toilet brush on the toilet bowl to leave it sparkling.
  8. Take your toiletries out of the bathroom when you leave the bathroom

The bathroom should look as though you have never been there. Be mindful of time and space. In cramped quarters, only stay in the bathroom as long as you need to be in there. Dressing and makeup can be done in your room. You are a guest, not a resident.

Before and after every meal, ask if there is anything that you can do to help.


When You Leave Your Host Home, Leaving as a Great Houseguest

Check every area to make sure that you have gathered all of your things. Check to make sure you are bringing chargers and all electronics. If you did laundry, make sure that all of your laundry is back with you. Make sure that you have all of your toiletries, any movies that you shared and anything else that came out of your suitcases.

Write a proper letter of thanks. It does not matter if it is your relative. Write a proper letter of thanks. Their home was opened to you. The least you can do is express appreciation.

Write a letter of thanks. Leave it somewhere that they can see it. I advise around the sink.

When you get home, send a second letter, telling them of the fun that you had, and how, as soon as they are in the area, you look forward to hosting them, or if space is a concern, how you look forward to hosting them for dinner. Make it clear that you understand a favor was extended to you.

Send a postcard a week later, telling them about the trip and how much good it did you to see them.


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  • freecampingaussie profile image


    6 years ago from Southern Spain

    You have some good points here . We used to have people stay with us as well as us staying at peoples houses . It can work out well if we are all thinking of others !


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