The Art of Being A Houseguest

As we head into peak travel season, Features Editor Jennifer Snyder offers five tips to help you be an ideal overnight guest.
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Being a guest in someone’s home can often come with some awkward moments— especially that moment when you’re subtly not invited back the following year. Ouch. Luckily our Features Editor Jennifer Snyder, who has traveled quite a bit this year, is offering up a few simple reminders for being the best houseguest you can be.

After being on the road for both work and play this year, I’ve learned a lot about my personal travel preferences. I love to max out a playlist, listening to favorites loudly as I cruise along. I tend to stop long enough to eat salads, rather than grabbing something I know I’ll regret eating 90 minutes down the road. Staying at hotels or rentals is always nice, in that you’ve got your own space and can come and go without explanation, but it can become a bit boring if you’re traveling for a long stretch of time. That’s why, when friends offered to let me stay with them at various stops along my podcast road trip routes, I quickly responded with things like, “Yes!” and “Thank you!” and “I’ll bring wine!”

Now don’t get me wrong: being a houseguest isn’t exactly new territory for us here at Clementine Daily. All of us have friends and family spread across the country (and across several ponds!), so we tend to know the drill. However, it’s always nice to round up a few helpful reminders as we head into the busy holiday travel season.

Let’s start dive right in, shall we?

1. Plan for a secondary option
When you’re planning to visit a city, it’s crucial that you avoid assuming that friends and family will offer or agree to have you stay as a guest. This may come as a shock to some of you gracious hosts out there, but sometimes people don’t like having houseguests! Plenty of people I know tend to think of their private spaces as, well, private. Others may not have the space to host guests. Additionally, if you’re not the only person or group coming to town (see: weddings, reunions and holiday festivities), you may need to get in line! So, if you’re rolling through town as the guest in the situation, it’s always smart to have a back-up plan.

2. Try not to come to the door empty handed
As I mentioned above, I tend to lean toward host gifts that are of the wine variety. However, if you aren’t familiar with your host’s preferences, it’s completely okay to ask! They’ll likely tell you that you needn’t bring a thing, but bring something anyway—even if it’s just a potted plant from the closest supermarket. The small gesture of bringing something with you to share with or give to those opening their home to you rarely goes unappreciated.

3. Offer to help in some way
Yes, you’re the guest in this situation, but that doesn’t mean you become immune to chopping vegetables or unloading the dishwasher. Again, your host may wave you off and tell you to kick back and relax, but never hurts to quietly set the table, prep the appetizers or take the trash to the street. Pitch in whenever and wherever you can!

4. Pay attention to the small details
Do you see that glassed-in shower with a squeegee leaning against the door? That’s not an accident. After you take the time to get yourself ready for the day, don’t forget to help your hosts minimize water spots. Remember when you arrived, promptly running to the ladies room, and noticed that the toilet paper roll was situated in the “over” position (that debate has been cleared up, by the way)? Be kind and replace the roll in the same way, if necessary. Are there kids in the house? Take a quick check of their nap/bedtime schedules so that you don’t inadvertently cause more work for your hosts. It’s the little details that make all the difference!

5. Be as self-sufficient as possible
As nice as it would be to have real life stop as soon as you arrive, your hosts likely have important things to attend to, such as jobs, meetings, children’s events, appointments, phone calls to make, etc. Not only that, it’s always nice to let your hosts know that you don’t expect to be entertained. That’s why I always try to give my hosts a tentative schedule ahead of time. If I’ll be out during the day, I let them know. If there’s a chance I might be back to the house late at night, I do my best to communicate my estimated time of arrival. If you’ve got a spare key (always ask if there’s a spare key!), you should be able to come and go as you please. However, remembering that you’re in their home and they’ve probably got routines in place is they best way to show your hosts that you respect their space and time.

So, you see, it’s not too difficult to shine up your houseguest game. We truly believe that being aware, courteous and communicative are the best first steps.

p.s. Feeling overwhelmed with the approaching season? Here’s how to say ‘no’ during the holidays.