The Etiquette Questions Every Houseguest Wants to Ask, Answered

From how long a stay is too long to whether or not it's okay to bring a pet with you, we're answering all of your most burning questions.

warm toned bedroom decor setup
Photo: Getty / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

If a loved one invites you to stay at their house, you get to enjoy the comforts of a home away from home—and skip the cost of a hotel. But you may have some questions about what's expected of you as a house guest and, admittedly, what you can expect from your host (who is likely a close friend or family member) during your visit. Here, common etiquette queries you may have—from how long you should actually aim to stay to whether or not you can bring along a pet.

What amenities can you really expect?

And are you supposed to bring your own shampoo? As a guest in someone's home, you should expect the simplest accommodations. According to Arden Clise, an etiquette trainer with Clise Etiquette, guests typically have access to basic amenities like a bed with linens, towels, soap, coffee, and tea. Some hosts will go above and beyond to cater to their guests' comfort by providing nice toiletries, snacks, and hair styling tools. "But, it's best to never assume," says Clise. "When in doubt, it's fine to ask your host if they have certain items such as a hair dryer or shampoo you can use. If not, bring your own."

How long of a stay is too long?

When planning your stay, make sure you're considerate of your host's timeline, since houseguests often quickly outstay their welcome. "A reasonable amount of time [to stay] is two to five days, but absolutely no longer than a week," advises Clise.

Is bringing a pet a faux pas?

While you may think your pet is adorable and can't imagine traveling without him or her, not everyone feels this way. "Bringing additional people, kids, or pets without approval from the host [is a common problem]," explains Clise. "Assume Uncle Bob and Spot are not invited unless the host specifically issues an invitation for them. It puts the host in an awkward position if you ask if you can bring your kids, friends, or pets if they weren't invited."

Should you follow the host's schedule?

As a house guest, you want to be flexible—and disrupt your host family's daily routine as little as possible. "It's very important to follow the host family's schedule," says Clise. "You are a visitor and you can't expect the family to change their schedule to accommodate you. For instance, if the hosts are early risers, don't linger in bed until late in the morning, keeping them from getting their day started." It may take some extra effort on your part but following your host's routine will help you become a better guest—which is worth the investment in that travel alarm clock.

Should you bring a gift?

Your host is going out of their way to welcome you to their home. According to Clise, you should return this favor with a thoughtful gift. "Bring a gift as a thank you to your host for hosting you," advises Clise. "Or, treat your friend or family member to dinner or fun outing."

Do you need to write a thank-you note?

This is a given, notes Clise: "Send a thank-you note after your visit, letting the host know how much you appreciate their hospitality."

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