If you exemplify these traits, you're the type of visitor every host or hostess dreams about.
two women sitting on couch enjoying coffee
Credit: Getty / gradyreese

When you're a guest in a friend or loved one's home, it's important to treat it like you would yours—if not better. Fall short of this goal and you'll slip right into the category of bad houseguest. "A houseguest can be inconsiderate and thoughtless about how their actions may affect the host and their household," explains Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol. You want to avoid that label at all costs for the sake of maintaining a pleasant relationship with your host family. Luckily, that's not difficult to do—as long as you exemplify the following behaviors. Ahead, six traits associated with the very best houseguests. Implement them to make sure you get the most cherished visitor commodity: an invitation back.

You clean up in each room you touch.

From pools of water on the bathroom floor to wet towels left on the bed (and, not to mention, dirty dishes on the kitchen table—not even in the sink), making messes and leaving them for your host is one of the biggest houseguest offenses. The ultimate houseguest cleans up any mess they create, and may even help their host with general tidying up throughout their stay.

You find your own transportation.

As a great houseguest, you know that your host isn't a transportation service. You take public transportation (if it's available), walk if your destination is close enough, or call an Uber. Simply put, you never put strain on your loved one by making them your chauffeur.

You come prepared with an itinerary.

Some guests figure that since the host lives there, they'll know all the good stuff—the best parks, museums, restaurants. And while that is likely true—and why it's absolutely okay to ask for suggestions—a great guest does their own research first and comes prepared with a plan and some questions.

You leave as planned.

Did you and your host agree you'd leave on Sunday evening? As a great houseguest, you do just that. Ask just about any host and they'll tell you that a guest overstaying their welcome is one of their biggest pet peeves. If a guest has pushed the boundary, the host is right to speak up. "It's not always the easiest conversation to have, but it is absolutely necessary for the host to ask the guest to leave," explains Swann. A tip for the host: "Your tone should be polite, yet firm. Say something along the lines of, 'Hey [friend], I'm going to have to ask you to end your stay as of tomorrow morning.' Follow this up with some nicety that rings true to your relationship. Don't buckle in and give them a way out—be very direct."

You respect your host's privacy.

If they wanted you to know their medical history, they'd tell you. Perusing through their medicine cabinets and opening each and every drawer? That's not just bad houseguest behavior—that's simply intrusive, not to mention disrespectful. The very best houseguests know to respect the privacy of the person who is so graciously hosting them.

You send a thank-you note.

"The guest should always extend thanks to the host for staying at their home, and they should give a gift," Swann advises. Some classic gifts include flowers or a food basket. "Or you can give money that goes towards housekeeping or the replenishment of supplies."


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