Recently, I got to thinking about hosting overnight guests etiquette – financially speaking. There are of course the rules nearly everyone follows when guest is in town:
- Your house is always supposed to be super clean when a guest comes over.
- You always give your guest clean sheets and clean towels. (And if you don't…. you are freaking nasty…)
- You should always have an itinerary of things to do/places to take your guest.
Then there are the other house guest rules, the less-common ones. I specifically want to talk about hosting house guest rules that impact your finances. This is, after all, a financial etiquette post.
Hosting Overnight Guests Etiquette -Is it supposed to be expensive?
My brother is a college student. He paid for ALL my meals during a recent visit. Granted, this was because I made the trek from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa to act in his short film, but still. Most good hosts cook breakfast/lunch/dinner for their guests, but what about if you want to go out to eat?
I have had hosts who have paid for meals out, and others who have not, and I haven't been offended either way.
I did a little research, and by research I mean I polled my friends about their own house guest rules. Apparently paying for meals out depends on a variety of factors:
The number of people staying at your house– Some people would be willing to purchase one out of town friend dinner if it was just the friend in town, but never for a family or multiple people staying over. If I had a large group of my sorority sisters staying with me I'd probably just offer to cook dinner for everyone, instead of chance-ing it in a restaurant.
The distance traveled-Most agreed that if you live within driving distance they probably wouldn't spring for dinner. However, if you bought a plane ticket and traveled thousands of miles, a dinner might be in order. Most often offer to cook for their guests no matter how much distance is involved, but going out to seems to be another situation for most folks.
Who did the inviting?-Are you crashing on a friends couch so you can take a prestigious job interview? Then YOU better be the one buying. Did your friend beg you to come visit her in Milwaukee before her baby comes? Then yeah, she should probably offer to buy you dinner. These, of course, are just my opinions.
Bottom Line: If someone comes to visit, you should at least prepare to feed them at least once inside your home. (I'd pick breakfast – this is also the cheapest and easiest option.)
Hosting Overnight Guests – Airbnb Host
Listing rooms in your home is different than being a landlord, mainly because it's less work and time involved. However, with Airbnb, it’s easier than ever to list a room in your house.
How do I become an airbnb host?
Hosting on Airbnb is your chance to earn extra money by showing off the best of your hometown. Travelers from around the world use the home-sharing site to find unique places to stay— spaces just like yours—and Airbnb does a lot to help hosts feel
comfortable and confident welcoming guests. For those who feel a little skeeved out by this, everyone who travels on Airbnb needs to submit a profile photo and confirmed phone number and email address.
For extra assurance, hosts can also require their guests to submit a government-issued ID.
Setting up your listing on Airbnb is the work of 30 minutes, but in order to get guests (and dazzle them enough so they leave great reviews), here's how to be a good Airbnb host.
How can I be a good Airbnb host?
Over the years I've found that with any type of hosting or at-home entertaining experience, ease lies within preparing in advance.
- Be honest about your listing. Think of this as your time to successfully set expectations about what guests will receive.
- When hosting for a profit, cleanliness is everything. Ideally you clean for all guests, but especially if someone is paying for your space – keep it extra fresh.
- Put together everything guests will need prior to arrival: towels in the bathroom, Wi-fi password, extra toilet paper. All those small details (and leaving extras!) will cut down on any awkwardness and unnecessary questions upon arrival.
- Leave small snacks for guests.
- Nothing is better than all the right coffee accouterments: cream, sugar, non-dairy creamer, etc. , coffee scoop, fresh grounds.
- If you're staying with an Airbnb guest inside your home, a nice greet and a quick tour will do wonders.
How to be a Good House Guest
If you want to be a good house guest, it's important to do/remember the following:
- Always try to bring some type of small hostess gift. As someone who hosts often, I know that gifts like these are not expected, but always a delight to receive. I also follow up the trip with a thank you note or bring a card to leave behind for my hosts.
- If I didn't have time to get a host gift, I then buy dinner on the first night, or at some point when we're out to eat over the weekend. Always. Compared to what it costs to stay in a hotel these days, these costs are nominal.
- Let your hosts have private conversations and/or private time. I always make it a point to offer to take the dog (or kids) out on a walk or to the playground so I'm not always “underfoot.”
- Follow the “house rules”: take shoes off at the door if the family does, don't leave personal belongings in common areas, don't put feet on the furniture, ask permission before taking food or operating electrical appliances like washing machine, etc.
- Find ways to entertain yourself. Make your own plans, do your own thing, unless a host specifically invites you to something or asks what you'd like to do together. (For me, this is a biggie, it's so stressful to try and come up with a weekend's worth of plans!)
- Clean up after yourself. Also, help load the dishwasher and clean up after meals.
- Bring any food items you plan on consuming and ask the host if they need anything from the store.
- Strip sheets and towels prior to departure. Even if they tell you to leave it, take them off the bed anyway and leave items to be laundered in a nice pile.
- Try to match the rhythm of the host. This is especially crucial if you're sleeping in a common area or don't have a room of your own. Don't sleep in till noon if they're an early riser, and don't stay out late clubbing if they go to bed early. While doing your own thing is a perk of staying in a hotel, you're in someone's home, so don't totally disrupt their routine.
How to be a Good Airbnb House Guest
Airbnb is a bit different than staying with a friend or family member because you're paying to stay at someone's house. Still, because it is someone's personal property, there are a few things you can do to be a good Airbnb house guest.
It's also worth noting with an Airbnb you can either rent a whole house or rent a room in someone's home. In which case, you become more like roommates than houseguests.
- If you're staying with someone in their home try and be a good roommate. Don't be loud, or rude, or linger.
- Clean up after yourself, especially in the common areas (if any.)
- Even though you're paying for the room, try and be conscientious of your hosts' schedule.
- Don't touch their personal belongings. Don't eat their food. Ask permission if you'd like to use something that is theirs.
- Follow the house rules: (Same as above). It's their home. You have to follow their rules.
- If you had a good time, always leave a review of your stay. This helps them find more guests and create a steady stream of income!
- Do you tip an Airbnb? No, you don't. They're providing a service for you, but they're not serving you. As such, don't expect service or tip.
The TL: DR
I know there are many frugal people out there who will balk at this. Or people focusing on their financial goals like paying off debt, or saving up for a home, who may worry about this small splurge. But hear me out. How often these days do people from out of town come to visit? I feel with the internet, and the increasing costs of travel, in-person visits only become rarer. Enjoy the person you're with and focus on the moment, rather than pinching pennies.
And of course, there is always the option of planning meal at-home well in advance, so no one has to worry about splitting the bill. Since you are hosting though, and not running a bed and breakfast, don't expect guests to fork over money for the increased food bill for the weekend.