How To Be a Good Couch Guest
With the holidays literally around the corner (Thanksgiving is next week!), we’ve tackled the basics of party guest etiquette. Now, we bring you, Couch Surfing 101, or How to Be a Good Overnight Guest!
Those who live in a Los Angeles apartment rental or micro-apartment in Santa Monica can empathize with the host who does not have the most…space, that is. So what do you do when you are visiting an out-of-town friend or relative who invites you to stay with them? How do you show appreciation without the awkwardness of actually exchanging money?
First off, remember that just because you are staying somewhere for free doesn’t mean that you should arrive empty-handed. It’s the same reason that a polite guest doesn’t show up at a dinner party with nothing but an empty stomach! Also, remember that you are showing or giving a token of appreciation, not providing a lasting investment for your host’s home, so no need to be over-the-top of uncomfortably extravagant.
Treat The Host
Will you and the host be going to dinner or having a breakfast out? Offer to pay for your host, or, don’t ask and just do it. The same principle applies with entertainment. If you are going to a movie together, offer to buy both of your tickets or at least the concessions. If you are on a very tight budget, treat the host by jumping in to wash the dishes after a meal or volunteering to run an errand for them!
Keep It Clean
Be sure to clean up after yourself so as not to cause a burden to your host. Leaving bedding unfolded on a couch or clothing strewn outside of your suitcase are big no-no’s for couch surfers! The same principle applies for the bathroom. Never leave wet towels on the bathroom floor and be sure to mop up any puddles of water you may have left behind outside on the shower floor or on the kitchen sink.
Just because we have gotten used to paying exorbitant gas prices, doesn’t mean that your host isn’t doing extra driving and filling up when you visit. Chipping in for gas is a great gesture, or, if your host is too proud to accept, sneak some cash into their cup holder or inside of a visor when they aren’t looking.
Be Self Sufficient
Do you have specific dietary restrictions? If so, travel with your own snacks or be prepared to purchase your own specific meals or groceries. You can even YELP area restaurants in advance in case the host asks you to pick an area restaurant with a menu that meets your restrictions. At the very least, communicate your restrictions in advance with your host. Springing the topic of what you can or can’t or will or won’t eat on a host after you’ve already arrived in rude as it puts them on the spot and can cause some uncomfortable scurrying around.
Are you visiting a new area or staying with a host that has to work or fulfill other obligations while you are there? If so, be ready to entertain yourself a bit. Go online or open a book or magazine-do some simple research on the area, getting around and what there is to do and see. Your host will be relieved to see that you are self sufficient and not placing additional pressure on them to draw you maps of bus routes or guess what attractions you may be interested in!
Showing your appreciation in one or all of these ways is a surefire way to be re-invited, gain a positive reputation as a house guest and keep your friendships and relationships in tact. Happy holidays!