How to Be a Great Guest
Kady of A Lady Reveals Nothing spent the better part of two years enjoying the hospitality of strangers the world round and learned a thing or two about being a great guest.
If you’re going to spend any amount of time traveling, chances are at some point you’ll be hosted by a stranger. These tried and true methods will guarantee an invitation to return:
Get Into the Culture
Do some advance research and find out all that you can about your Hosts’ culture. In Samoa, it’s impolite to speak to someone seated if you are standing. In Thailand, its very rude to point the bottom of your foot at someone. In some cultures it’s not OK to refuse an offer of food. Research will help you know what to do in such situations, but more often than not you’ll be glad to accept — like the time I was given fresh sugar cane in Samoa.
Don’t Hole Up
Plan to be social at least part of the time. You’ll make your Hosts feel very uncomfortable if you hideout in your room twenty-four-seven. If you need to sleep off some jet lag, politely explain but make plans to join them for coffee or a meal the next day.
Leave No Trace
Leave your clothes and toiletries packed away in your suitcase and take them out only when in use. Jump up and clear the table as soon as the after-dinner conversation has waned. If you feel comfortable, wash the dishes. Make your bed every day. When it’s time to leave, strip the bed and leave everything folded neatly.
Offer to Help
While staying in New Zealand, I told the older couple with whom I was staying that I would love to help with any chores that needed doing. I had a blast all afternoon chucking recyclables at the dump with Henry.
Keep Your Word
If you say you’re going to arrive at a certain time, stick to it. Stay in touch about your plans and don’t stay out too late unless arranged in advance. You’ll feel bad if they lost sleep worrying about you.
Don’t assume anything. Better to ask first.
Give a Gift, or Two
Bring a small token from your hometown or the last city you visited. After you’ve gotten to know them a little better, a nice parting gift specific to their taste and personality is in order. If you’re unsure, treat them to a fancy dinner out.
Now it’s Your Turn
Learn from your Hosts and vow to pay it forward the next time guests come your way.