In the era of ‘glocal’ experiences, one gets many opportunities to live in a place, instead of observing it from a distance. Among the key enablers of this change in the way people travel, are the ones who throw open their homes and hearts to these folks with nomadic hearts and itchy feet.
These hosts could be anyone; an old friend from school, that college room-mate you couldn’t wait to get done with, a colleague from a previous work place, an aunt who was your mother’s childhood neighbour, or a total stranger offering his/her space.
Listed here are the tenets of how to be a good house-guest and earn a few brownie points.
Respect their time
Avoid taking the 1.30 am flight just because it is cheaper by 300 bucks, when compared to the afternoon one.
Arrive and leave at a time that does not get in the way of your hosts’ day-to-day functioning.
While staying with them, be mindful of their time to hit the sack, or take a siesta. Also, do not get rooted in their house, forgetting to leave.
Respect their space
Be aware of your hosts’ personal space and privacy. In case you are unclear regarding the difference between the two, the former is breached with physical proximity most of the time, while the latter can be intruded into from the other side of the globe as well.
To see how they keep their physical space, observe. Do not lounge around the house in night-clothes throughout the day, if you see them going about theirs following a basic routine.
Make sure that you clean up after you; especially the common areas used by both. Follow house rules, if there are any that they are particular about.
Check with them about their smoking/drinking habits, and if they would be comfortable with yours.
The wisdom lies in knowing how to tread the fine line between aloof-ish and intrusive.
Expecting them to accompany you for your reason of the visit to the city is a sure-shot way to make the host regret the decision of welcoming you in the first place.
Be it a casual visit, or a work-related one, take their help in understanding how to go about it, but be independent enough to do it on your own.
Bring a gift
Or be one. Offer to cook, clean or water the house plants. Help them with a skill you have and they could use — like photography, writing, or teaching them how to pay bills online. Just anything that stays long after you have left is preferred, but in case it is not possible, taking them out for a meal at a place of their choice is not a bad deal either.
Nothing spells love and gratitude like food. If the host has kids/pets, you will stay in your hosts’ conversations forever if you get something for them!
Refrain from inviting guests
You arrive in the city and put up your social media status declaring the same. Five acquaintances who happen to be in the same city ask you to meet. Do you go out to meet people you know? Or call them over?
Whether it is these links; or whether you just hang about the city making friends at your places of interest; or an ex-flame stays five blocks away from your host; or, your brother studies in the same city; whatever your idea and reason for socialising might be, refrain from getting guests home without permission. Better still, keep your rendezvous outside the realms of your hosts’ space.
Offer to get the door for the milkman or the newspaper guy, when the first door-bell for the day rings. Your host will thank you from the bottom of their heart if he/she is not a morning person. Or, take the initiative to do the dishes, if he/she is the kind of person who calls it a day early. Or take the dog out for a walk, if you are comfortable with animals. Just be useful in a way that they are thankful for your visit.
Say a warm ‘thank you’
Once you are back to where you belong, thank your host however you can. Offering to host them when they are in your city wouldn’t hurt either, but expressing gratitude is a must. Even after this list, if you ever find yourself contemplating ‘should I, or shouldn’t I’, just put yourself in the place of your host and answer the dilemma. You are likely to get a response which will keep your friendship strong and go places, literally.