Staying at the home of a friend or family member can be a fun and relaxing experience. But that doesn’t mean you can behave however you’d like as an overnight guest.
Behaving rudely in someone else’s space is not only impolite; it can also mean the difference between getting invited back or shelling out for an expensive hotel next time you’re in town.
Here, etiquette experts share some common rude behaviors from overnight guests ― and advice for avoiding these faux pas.
Taking Up Too Much Space
When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, try not to take up too much space or get in the way of the smooth operation of the household.
“Pack light if you are visiting and treat your guest room as you would your own home,” advised Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, the author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and the founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Pick up wet towels. Don’t put a glass on the nightstand without a coaster. And be respectful of electricity and water consumption.”
Not Giving Your Host A Break
Jodi R.R. Smith, the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, recommended making yourself scarce when possible. Give your host some alone time during the day.
“Retire to your room for a nap, read a book or take a long walk,” Gottsman suggested. “Even better, take the day to see the sights. Invite the host, but be sure to leave them the opportunity to decline: ‘I am off to see the Statue of Liberty today. If you would like to join me, you are more than welcome, but please don’t change your plans on account of me. I know how busy you are right now.’”
Expecting Car Access
When someone agrees to let you stay in their home, there should be no assumption that use of their car is included. Unless they offer, don’t count on borrowing it.
“Rent your own car or take an Uber,” Gottsman said. “Don’t expect your host to give you their car during your visit.”
Interfering With Parenting
“You are the guest and should do everything possible to respect the host’s time, property and family rules,” Gottsman noted. “In other words, don’t correct their children or give them unwarranted advice on how to parent.”
If they ask you to babysit their child at some point during your stay, by all means oblige — but don’t try overstepping your bounds.
Taking Photos Without Permission
“Stay off your cellphone and don’t take pictures of their personal property, home or other guests without permission,” Gottsman advised.
Of course, you might simply love the wallpaper in the bathroom or think their toddler is adorable. But ask if you can take a photo before you start snapping and sharing away.
Failing To Help Around The House
“Make yourself useful by helping around the house,” Smith recommended. “Load the dishwasher, tidy rooms you have been in or (if the host is agreeable) make dinner.”
Lending a hand is the polite thing to do and also can help ensure you’re invited back in the future.
“In addition to helping around the house, take the host out for a nice meal at least once during your stay,” Smith suggested.
As tempting as it may be, refrain from snooping and rooting through other people’s belongings.
“Being a guest in someone’s home does not automatically grant you access to anything in the closet, cupboards and cabinets,” Smith said. “Be sure to ask first if you need or wish to use something belonging to your host.”
Making A Mess And Hiding It
Accidents happen, but you can mitigate the damage by taking swift action and being honest about the situation.
“If you spill red wine or anything else on the carpet or furniture, let the host know immediately,” Gottsman advised.
Surprises can be nice, but not when it comes to hosting an out-of-town guest. Don’t show up out of the blue, and don’t be presumptuous about what to expect during your stay.
“Prior to your arrival, be sure to speak with your host to make sure your visit is a welcome one and you have agreed upon arrival and departure dates,” Smith said. “Ask if there is anything you need to bring. Not every home stocks enough linens, towels and pillows just in case of visitors.”
Showing Up Empty-Handed
As a guest, you should try to show courtesy and gratitude to your host. One of the simplest ways to do this is by giving them a present.
“You should arrive with gifts for your host,” Smith noted. “Some typical hospitality gifts include flowers, wine, chocolates, homemade treats, decorative hand towels or items from your hometown.”
Not Stripping The Bed
Try to leave the place better (or at least no worse off) than you found it.
“When you are leaving, strip the bed,” Smith advised. “The host’s linens should be folded neatly and left either near the door of the room or in the laundry room. Check the room and the bathroom for your personal effects and be sure to tidy them before your departure.”
Forgetting To Thank Your Host
A little show of manners and gratitude goes a long way, Smith noted.
“When you are a guest in someone’s home, be sure to use the ‘magic three’ phrases often: ‘Please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me,’” she said.
Continue to show your appreciation even after the visit.
“You may have already thanked the host profusely in person, but don’t stop there,” Smith added. “Be sure to send a written thank-you note to the host once you have returned home. Remember, a gracious guest is a welcome guest.”