Being a good guest and a good host - a primer

World Travel Blog

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This has been an extraordinary 6 months for me. I've literally been a humble guest in multiple homes and been a host to two huge adolescent boys in Bangui, and hopefully will be a future host many more times for my good friends in LA or wherever I end up!

I've been the lucky recipient of multiple kind hosts lately - Living at Mahimbo's for a month, Irene's for over a month, I've come up with a few basic cross-cultural rules that you are free to debate with or challenge!

When you're living at someone's house for more than 4 days, let's face it, you're no longer a guest, you're a resident! so...
1) pay for stuff!! Buy groceries, pay for restaurant outings or drinks. For long stays, buy a large gift. Next time I come back to Irene's, I'm buying her a patio set.
2) find transportation, even if you're in a different country. Usually major cities have public transportation so use it!! Don't expect your host to drive you everywhere.
3) Leave your host alone once in a while. Usually they are working and tired when they get home. Greet them cheerfully and then give them some alone-time!
4) Clean up after yourself!! Wash dishes, take out trash, do what you can so that the physical constraints of another person in their home is minimized.

When you're kind enough to host someone in your home, these are things I've noticed are important for your guest:
1) take them grocery shopping once a week, so they can buy familiar things that they can consume over the week - bonus is they won't be raiding your fridge so much! =)
2) make sure to do something once a day, or once every other day outside of the house.  No need to pack an itinerary full, but if there isn't public transport nearby, sometimes they're stuck at home and need to get out.
3) try not to cancel plans at the last minute - sometimes they look forward to some little thing you mentioned all week.
4) little getaways together are always good for both of you, you get out of your routine and explore from a common ground again. =)

An interesting thing to note is that outside of the US, it is more common to have people host you. I've noticed people in the US are a lot more concerned about their personal space and don't often invite people into their homes. TBers are quite the exception, of course, but I think it's a mistake not to open your arms in this crazy world, I think sharing space and lives and energy is such an important part of being and becoming more in touch with this world that we love to travel around in.

TRE69 says:
Great post with sage advice! =D
Posted on: Jun 24, 2009
kelleeoo says:
Perfect posting for me to read today. I have a couchsurfer from Switzerland coming to stay for a few days. Thanks for the tips.
Posted on: Jun 24, 2009
rotorhead85 says:
Nice blog - I hope EVERYONE reads it!
Posted on: Jun 24, 2009
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