Free lodging from family and friends when traveling is great! Not only do you have a built in unit for insider tips on things to do and places to eat, but they also help you save a good deal of cash. Instead of paying to stay at an overpriced hotel or all inclusive resort, you can keep that money in your pocket or out it toward fun experiences for your trip.
With free lodging however comes the possibility of overstaying your welcome or being a terrible houseguest. Me, I hate to be a burden or rude houseguest, disrupting the flow of things or disturbing them with my vacationing ways (staying up late or eating their groceries because I have no food in sight). I know if I ever welcomed a friend or family member into my home, I'd want them to be respectful of how I keep my place but also allow them the independence and freedom needed when being on vacation.
In order to make sure you don't burn any bridges with friends and family when getting free lodging, here are a few simple tips to make sure you get invited back the next time you're in town.
Bring A 'Thank You' Gift
Don't be stingy, spring for a gift! Gifts are never necessary or required but I think a small thank you always means a little something when getting a free place to stay on vacation. For instance, when I come from NYC to visit a family member in London or Ireland, bringing a cute souvenir from my city like a mug, a local delicacy like a box of cronuts, or if you know they are a makeup fanatic with no access to Sephora, items like Nars Luminous Weightless Foundation and Smashbox Matte Liquid Lipstick (I know my sister in London loves these) can go a long way. Now these gifts aren't universal but take into consideration what your host likes as well as what is unique to your city and spend some of those spare dollars you saved on a small token expressing your appreciation.
Remember, you may be getting a free place to stay but you don't have turndown maid service! Do your part. If you're taking showers and make a mess in the bathroom, clean up. If you're using the kitchen to make yourself a meal, ask if your host is hungry and prepare dinner for them as well and then put the kitchen back to the way it was. Also, if you didn't buy the food (and this goes without saying), don't use that for your meal. I personally feel it's rude to help yourself to the chicken in the fridge because you're craving it.
If you also have a bit of extra money you don't mind spending, it'd be super nice to spring for a laundry service such as Cleanly tto surprise your host with clean laundry at the end of your visit. There are lots of little ways to be helpful and it really will mean a lot.
Respect The House Rules
Even if you are a grown adult, rules are rules in someone else's home. Don't blast your music at midnight just because you're on vacation, your host probably has work and can't afford to party as hard as you. If they have a morning routine as to how they use the bathroom, find out what it is so you can avoid taking an hour long shower (you shouldn't be doing that anyways unless your host said you could) and delaying them from getting where they need to be on time. This is pretty simple but you'd be surprise how easy it is to "forget" this while on vacation. As soon as you arrive, make sure you know what you can and can't do and note it quickly on your cell phone. The worst thing you could do is strain a good relationship just because you couldn't remember a few of their house rules. Have fun while away but be respectful.
These are just a few ideas that pop to mind from my personal experiences that can ensure an invitation back to your host's home the next time you stop over for a visit. There very simple tips to keep in mind and mean a lot in the long run!
If you have any tips you think I left out and will help you be the perfect houseguest, please share them in the comments below!