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Secrets to Being a Good Houseguest

Written by Danielle Travali.

Most people want to know about how to be a great host, but there are very few people who seem to emphasize the importance of being a great guest and showing appreciation for hospitality.

So, let’s talk about the main ways you can be the best, most respectful house guest. We’ve compiled a list of great ideas that will help you show appreciation for the people hosting you at their home. Some of these ideas are absolute musts. But keep in mind that you won’t necessarily need to heed all of these tips; simply choose the ones that apply to your situation.


1. Upon arriving, show your host you care by making small, thoughtful gestures:

Present your host with a gift, such as a basket full of fruit or kitchen essentials to help stock up their fridge (a gallon of milk, eggs, bread, etc.). Remember, you are saving money by not having to stay at a hotel. So, this is a sweet way to thank your hosts and help replenish items they might need when you leave. This is most important if you are visiting for an extended period of time. If you are, your host may appreciate the help with the groceries.

Baked goods - homemade brownies, cookies, etc.
Homemade centerpiece for the table
Welcome wreath adorned with flowers
A houseplant
A bouquet of flowers
A box of gourmet chocolates or truffles
A bottle of wine
A beautiful serving platter
Pre-sliced cheese and crackers on a plate
A box of artisan tea or a pound of gourmet coffee

2. Be clear about how long you will stay at your host’s house beforehand, and try not to overstay your welcome.

3. You can also ask what you should bring, such as towels and bedding. Your host will likely provide for you, but this allows them to know you are thoughtful.

4. While visiting, realize that your host may need some privacy. Make an effort to give your host some time during the day where they don’t have to worry about entertaining and can take care of their responsibilities.  Your host will appreciate this.  

5. No surprises. It’s not usually a great idea to bring your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, etc., unless you have cleared this with your host beforehand. Be considerate to your hosts-- especially if there are already a few other people living (and staying) at their home.

6. Respect your hosts’ time. Understand that they may have prior commitments when you stay at their home and may not be able to constantly entertain you. It might be a good idea to simply thank them for allowing you to stay at their home.

7. Please be kind. Follow the Golden Rule: treat your host as you would want to be treated--especially if you were hosting that person.

8. Learn the house rules and be sure to respect everyone else in the household. This means to be courteous, e.g. don’t take a 45-minute shower, try not to take up too much space with your belongings. Be neat. Don’t scatter your things everywhere, but instead keep them neatly arranged in your suitcase.

9. Understand others’ schedules. This is especially important if you go out and decide to come home late. If you have to be out late and come home at a very late hour as well, that’s fine. But keep the noise down; your host likely has to go to work in the morning. You don’t.

10. Clean up after yourself. This includes offering to wash dishes or load the dishwasher after you eat, cleaning up the little crumbs you leave behind on the table, cleaning up the bathroom after you use it, for example, to shower, and making your own bed. Please don’t automatically expect the host to clean up after you.

11. If you have children or pets, try to make arrangements for them to stay with someone trustworthy while you are traveling, unless you had already planned to take your children with you. You don’t want to impose on your host, but at the same time, you do want to make sure you’re able to spend some time with them. If you have pets and must bring them for any particular reason, find out if your host or anyone in the house you’re staying at is allergic or opposed to pets. If your host lives in a condominium or apartment complex, find out if pets are allowed and if there are any particular restrictions. Be kind and courteous about this, as pets are an extra responsibility for everyone and can easily make a mess if you’re not careful.

12. Spend time with your host, but try as much as possible not to disrupt their routine. This especially depends on the number of days you are staying. If you’re staying for a few days, your host may want to spend extra time with you and may even have extra time to spare. But if you are staying for a week or longer, you must realize that your host has a life and will probably need to go to work and carry on with their normal responsibilities. This is where you kindly respect their schedules.

13. Respect the house rules - don’t feed the dog or cat unless asked; don’t give kids candy without asking, and don’t walk around the house in shoes if everyone is expected to leave shoes at the door. Being respectful shows you care. Just paying attention to how others are behaving should help you quickly figure out how you should behave and will help you know the “rules” of the household.  Your host will surely appreciate it.

14. Socialize when appropriate and don’t always be on the phone. Today’s technology often puts a barrier between us and others. When you’re spending time at your host’s home, be considerate enough to put away the phone when others around you are chatting with you. Try not to have long, loud phone conversations. If you must talk on the phone, excuse yourself and go outside or to a room where you won’t disturb others.

15. If you have dietary restrictions, please be honest. Your health is important. If you have food allergies, offer to bring foods you’re allowed to eat. Remember that you are responsible for your own health and your own needs.  Be sure to talk about this with your host beforehand, but be courteous about it and don’t expect everyone to understand or remember exactly what foods you can or can’t have. Make a list of foods you must avoid and share this list with your host.

16. Do your own itinerary research. If you ask your host about possible places to visit and activities to do, give some opinion as to what you would enjoy. It’s likely that your host would like to know things you’d enjoy doing during your stay.

17. If you are having your hosts accompany you to typical tourist activities in their area, at least offer to pay. Remember that they may have been to see that museum or that amusement park before and may be going again just to accompany you. Please appreciate that.

18. If your host has roommates, be respectful of their needs as well. Try not to disturb them, especially if they are working, and thank them for allowing you to stay with your host.

19. After your stay, send a thank you note to your host. A great way to show gratitude is to offer to cook a meal or take your hosts out to dinner. If you’d like to be extra nice, you could send them a set of movie tickets or a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Remember: people want to know that they are loved and appreciated, and this is exactly what your hosts are doing for you by allowing you to stay in their home. If you follow the ideas listed above, you will fill your hosts’ hearts with joy and everyone will be mutually feeling the love!

Danielle Travali, MS
Danielle Travali, MS

Danielle Travali, also known to many as the Web and television personality "Holly Pinafore," is a journalist, entrepreneur, and food & wine enthusiast. She is a certified food coach, stress management coach and fitness trainer who studied mindful eating and food psychology. Danielle also holds a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac Un.. Read more

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