When you find yourself sitting at your desk daydreaming about taking that much-needed vacation, it often seems as though there could be no downside to getting on a plane and jetting off to a new country. However, once you start planning your trip, you quickly realize just how much it’s going to cost you.
Luckily, there are ways to cut down on expenses. One of those ways is to avoid paying for accommodation by staying with friends and family.
The catch is that being a guest in someone’s home doesn’t always end as well as it begins. When you’re in a friend or family member's space for an extended period of time, all of the qualities that you usually love about one another can easily turn into irritations and frustrations.
Your hosts are opening their home to you, so it’s important that you ensure that you are a gracious houseguest.
Below are several tips on how to avoid being 'that guy' that never receives a return invite:
Don’t arrive empty handed:
Whether it’s duty free alcohol, flowers from the airport gift shop, or thoughtful presents from back home, make sure your hosts know that you appreciate their hospitality from the moment your vacation begins.
Pay attention to your hosts:
Yes, it’s been a long journey and you probably want to get some sleep, but remember that the people you’re staying with have probably been looking forward to spending time with you. At the very least, set aside an hour to catch up with them before you excuse yourself to unpack and take a nap.
Give them their space:
Don’t rely on your hosts to entertain you throughout the full duration of your trip. Make use of public transport, rent a car, or organize a cab and go out for the day. They’ll appreciate having downtime to do their own thing, and you can enjoy seeing the sights solo with your camera.
Check in with them:
It's great to make plans to do other things, but always check in with the people you’re staying with first. You never know if they’ve planned a tour of the city or a local adventure. You want to avoid making your hosts feel as though you're just using them for accommodation.
Help around the house:
While they may politely decline when you offer to wash the dishes after dinner, make an attempt to notice chores around the house and do them without asking (such as taking out the trash or sweeping up dirt that’s been walked into the house).
If your hosts are feeding you every day, offer to cook one night and make a point of purchasing the ingredients yourself. If you drink wine with dinner, buy a bottle or two for the table. It’s the little things that make people feel as though they aren't being taken advantage of.
Show that you've appreciated their hospitality by taking them out to dinner the night before you leave or by planning something to do together on the last day. Leave flowers behind in your room with a thank you card for them to find once you’ve left. That way their last memory of your visit will be a good one.
In short, while you can definitely save money on your dream holiday by staying with friends and family, follow these simple tips to ensure that you don’t overstay your welcome and you may even be invited to stay again in the future (just not right away).