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How to Be a Good House Guest

How to Be a Good House Guest + Lo & Sons Travel Bag Giveaway


A while ago, I wrote a post about how to be a great host, so I thought it was time to follow up that post with a few tips for being a good house guest. One of my cardinal rules for staying at someone’s home is traveling light. I don’t want my host to feel like I’ve moved in! Since I got it a few years ago, my Lo & Sons bag has been a constant companion on weekend trips and travels overseas. It’s stylish yet functional, and fits all the essentials (including my laptop, iPad, few pairs of shoes, and enough clothes for a few days).


How to Be a Good House Guest + Lo & Sons Travel Bag Giveaway

Today, in addition to my tips, Lo & Sons is offering one lucky reader their choice of the OG or OMG bag from their website (retail value: ~$300). This giveaway closes at 12 pm PST on October 23rd. We’ll choose a winner at random on October 24th. Please be sure to use a valid email address so we may contact you if you win.

To participate, simply leave a comment on this post, sharing your best tip for traveling well or being a good house guest. One entry per person, please. This giveaway is open only to U.S readers (Lo & Sons does not ship internationally).

Be sure to follow Turntable Kitchen and Lo & Sons on Facebook.

A Special Discount for TK Readers

Lo & Sons is offering Turntable Kitchen readers a generous 20% discount for the month of October! Just enter code TTKITCHENOCT2013 at checkout. Hop over to their website to take advantage of it.

5 Tips for Being a Good House Guest

Whether you’re crashing at a friend’s house for a night, visiting the in-laws, or staying with a relative, it’s always a good idea to go the extra mile to let folks know you appreciate their hospitality.

1. Make your bed. Growing up, I hated making my bed. My dad is a neat freak and I think as an act of rebellion, I would intentionally not make my bed in the mornings. I remember whenever we’d travel, he’d always insist we make the hotel bed which I thought was ridiculous. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that making the bed when you are staying in someone else’s home, even if it’s just going to get remade, is just an act of appreciation and respect.
2. Ask before you use. I’ll admit to helping myself to friends’ shampoo and body wash (hey, isn’t it fun to try other people’s products?) but I think that it’s still best to ask before you help yourself.
3. Know what’s off-limits. When someone invites you into his/her home, they’re inviting you into their most personal space. Don’t open bathroom drawers, nightstands, or help yourself to the fridge (unless you’ve been explicitly invited to).
4. Do something nice. I like to treat my hosts to brunch or dinner, or bring treats, like a bottle of wine or cookies. I also try not to inconvenience people too much. If it’s a close friend who’s happy to pick me up from the airport, I take them up on the offer, but with acquaintances, I try to fend for myself, taking cabs, offering to get out of their hair when they’re trying to get ready for work.
5. Follow up with an official thank you. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, someone who likes snail mail, or prefers email (or text!), there is no excuse to not thank your host after you’ve left. For folks who’ve really gone out of their way, I’ll sometimes send a card or small gift.

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Krista_TIOJ

    My favorite travel tip is to always wear/bring a scarf for the inevitably frigid plane and of course, update your iPod with a wonderfully happy in-flight playlist!

  • April

    I like to bring a small gift from the area where I live to share with my host. My favorites are local soap and chocolate. And I agree with you, it’s always a nice gesture to make the bed.

  • Gabriela

    If I’m going to be at my host’s house for a couple of days, I offer to take over a meal – dinner, brunch, even the appetizers or dessert for a meal they’re already planning. If it’s someone I know quite well, I’ll probably use their kitchen. But even for people I know less well, picking up a gorgeous tart from a local bakery or effective ordering of takeout is always appreciated!

  • Courtney J

    I recently did a twelve day europe trip all with a carry on suitcase! I packed everything I wanted to wear, then cut it in half. It worked perfectly jumping from city to city (the bigger/heavier your luggage the more the headache). Packing extremely light also left me feeling less guilty about shopping while I was on vacation!

  • Amanda McCarthy

    My favorite tip for being a good houseguest is to bring a small token of thanks with you. My favorite is a fresh loaf of artisan bread (even from Panera, if you can’t find a bakery) wrapped in a pretty kitchen towel or some cheesecloth. I also like to sneak a little jar of gourmet salt into the package if I can find any. In some Eastern and Central European cultures, bread and salt is a traditional “welcome” gift or meal – so this little gift is a modern, simple take on the classic!

  • Ashley

    When I travel I always carry an extra set of clothes and all my basic necessities with me if I check a bag. It makes life easier if the airline loses your luggage or you have a tight connection. If you’re going somewhere tropical make sure you carry on a bathing suit as well since that’s all you’re likely to need for at least a day. 🙂

  • Sharon

    I love the tradition of bringing, and leaving a small token of appreciation. Especially if you can bring something unique from your city or community. Buying dinner or drinks while you are staying there is nice as well, provided your host is willing to accept:)

  • nicolebodd

    I like to leave a small gift and a handwritten thank you note. Thanks for the chance to win. I’d pick the O.G. bag in army green. Love their bags + your site, especially your mixtapes.

  • I often try to bring something edible from home as a gift, especially when I’m a houseguest overseas. I brought maple syrup or popcorn from Wisconsin, and now that I live in California, I bring pistachios or honey.

  • Amanda

    I always pack healthy snacks when travelling. So much better than the options you get in airports or on the road.

  • Lydia W.

    I like to bring something from my city (it’s usually a bag of awesome coffee beans or artisanal chocolates since I’m from Seattle) and then I strip the bed when I leave (making the blankets and pillows look nice but putting the sheets and any used towels in a neat pile). I really liked your tip about an official thank you; I’m going to start doing that!

  • crowls

    I am guilty of always making the hotel bed!
    My travel tip is to always bring a water bottle–I get so dehydrated on flights, and those little cups of water they hand out never cut it.

    crowls at gmail dot com

  • Kristen

    My top travel tip: wear flats or comfy sandals depending on the season. Carry a large purse so you can stash a pair of slippers in there, too.

    sugarsocial @ gmail dot com

  • Samantha Dwyer

    It’s nice when guests who are staying overnight help with the little chores, like making beds or dishes after dinner. It’s an easy way to show thanks and I’ve had some good conversations at the kitchen sink.

  • Nicole

    Wonderful, thoughtful tips! I like to bring a gift along that I know they will love and I like to hand-write a thank you note and leave it on the made bed when I leave. I also try to make sure the room looks the same as when I arrived.

  • Deanne Katz

    My number one travel rule is to hydrate. Lotion, chapstick, and a water bottle are always in my carry on. Whether you’re in a car or a plane, the air system is super drying.

  • aldo37

    My tip for packing light – roll your socks and shirts like burritos. Gets them nice and compact and doesn’t cause as many wrinkles.

  • Catrina

    To be a good house guest always make sure to be bring a gift and help out with small chores

  • Danielle Calvert

    To be a good houseguest, always bring a small gift and make sure to pick up after yourself – no towels or linens laying around once you’ve left. It’s a small gesture but makes a big difference!

  • Marisa Brandt

    For being a good guest, I think the most important thing is flexibility. Being able to roll with whatever your host wants to do for dinner, or to adjust the time you get up to more closely match theirs, will make their lives so much easier.

  • Rachel Gullerud

    My best tip for travelling well is to always have a Snicker bar handy. I tend to get a little hangry (angry when I’m hungry) when I’m out and about, not following my normal routine. A Snicker bar is all I need to hold me over until the group is ready to eat 🙂

  • Laura P

    My favorite travel tip is to not only drink tons of water, but also bring a moisturizer in your carry on – take off your makeup and slather on the moisturizer so your face can stay nice and refreshed!

  • Julie

    My grandmother taught me that any more than two nights is overstaying your welcome. I think it’s true in most situations.

  • hsimon

    I know it’s a long shot of me winning 🙂 but as a house guest, I love bringing something from my own city or neighborhood to wherever I’m going – it’s a nice gift that also supports local artists. As a hostess, I also like to give a gift from a local source – coffee, soap, something to represent the city! As for a trip for travelling well – noise cancelling headphones. Those babies have saved me a lot of grief on long flights.

  • To be a good houseguest always leave things in better condition than you found them. Always clean your own messes and help them with theirs. Watch their kids, make them dinner, and so forth.

  • My tip for being a good house guest is to pick up after yourself and be respectful of the rules of the house.

  • Rachel Gullerud

    My best tip for travelling well is to always have a Snicker bar handy. I tend to get a little hangry (angry when I’m hungry) when I’m out and about, not following my normal routine. A Snicker bar is all I need to hold me over until the group is ready to eat 🙂

  • Lisa

    My best tip is to bring your own healthy snack to stay on track. Always thank your host and have some sort of gift to show your appreciation.

  • Justine

    When there’s only one bathroom, I recommend working out a morning bathroom schedule. It doesn’t need to be overly formal or set in stone, but giving everybody a rough idea allows everybody to get out the door in time.

  • Erica

    My best travel tip is to bring a surge protector in my carry-on. I got a travel size one and cozy up to an outlet to charge all those electronics I drain on the flight. When I’m staying with someone, I usually bring a small gift like jewelery or a candle. ericabgATgmailDOTcom

  • Marjorie

    Love the tips and naturally all things travel! 🙂 There are so many great comments already I’m hard pressed for an additional favorite. One of my favorite travel tips is to carry a silk thermal, they can compress into a purse and still provide a lot of warmth on a plane or if you get surprised by some unexpected chills. This probably goes without saying but in addition to picking up a meal, snack, gift or drink for the host I always like to thank them verbally repeatedly…it is probably overkill but I like to have that moment where they can see the appreciation in my eyes. 🙂

  • N C

    My best tip is to always bring a host gift. Something from your town that shares a bit of personality and a bit about where you’re coming from… a yummy sauce, dip, or chocolate can go a long way. A candle or bottle of wine is also a great choice.

  • Nicole | Eat This Poem

    I agree about making the bed. It’s one of my least favorite things to do, but I think it’s a nice gesture to leave the room orderly, even if they’re just going to wash the sheets afterwards.

  • Katia

    i always clean up after myself and find a way to jump in and start helping without being asked.

  • KT

    To show my host how much I appreciate their time I always arrive with a gift. Personalized food gifts that reflect the warmth of my own home are my favorite – eg. honey from the bees in my backyard, homemade jam, or fresh ground nutmeg.

  • Rooz

    Whenever I’m traveling and staying at a friends place I always bring a towel. Maybe it’s cuz my friends are grad students like me, but they rarely have extra clean towels hanging around.

  • My best tip for being a good house guest is to be a flexible one. I guess that would probably be a good tip for being a good hostess, too. For me anyway, things usually don’t go the way I expect them to, but releasing control, mentally speaking, helps. Fun giveaway!

  • Amanda

    If I’m staying with family I like to bring a handmade gift or offer to make dinner while visiting…a personal gesture that shows I appreciate their hospitality!

  • Grace

    Some favorite and essential travel tips I’ve come to value over the years: 1) Pack a small emergency/first-aid kit with travel-size items like ibuprofen or tylenol, emergen-c, small scissors or tweezers and nailclippers (keeping in mind TSA regulations), prescription meds, anti-itch/hydrocortisone cream, allergy medication, band-aids, melatonin. 2) Take notes if you’re visiting a new city or place. You always think you’ll remember where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, where and what you ate, cute stores or shops, but you won’t. It’s worth taking notes if you really want to remember or share stories of your travels! 3) Bring a few extra Ziploc bags. These have been great for separating sometimes wet or damp things, containing small items that can sometimes get lost in the depths of a bag, toiletries that may leak, etc. 4) Because luggage inevitably gets lost or delayed, pack an extra, simple tshirt/non-bulky pullover and underwear in your carry-on to hold you over.

  • Jenn

    I think it’s important that while you’re a guest you cook a nice meal or make some delicious cocktails (with ingredients you’ve purchased!) just to say thanks!

  • Holly B

    Clear packing cubes were revelation for me! Now when the TSA searches my bag, they don’t need to make such a mess, and I can easily see what I have packed as well 🙂

  • Melissa

    If I’m a guest at someone’s home, I always come bearing gifts that I know they will truly enjoy. I want them to know that I really appreciate them opening their door to me!

  • I arrive with lots of wine 🙂

  • Shelley

    When I stay at a friends house, I always clean up after myself. In the bathroom, bedroom, & kitchen if I use it. And I always offer to strip the bed & remake it before I leave. I try to make having me as a guest as easy a process on my host as possible.

  • Amy Wen

    Great tips! When I’m visiting friends or family, I always clean up after myself and be sure to keep things how they were before my arrival. It’s nice enough that they let me stay over for free, so it’s the least I can do. I also try to bring the host a gift from where I’m from.

  • Fresh and Foodie

    Bring a hostess gift. Offer to cook dinner one night. And clean up after yourself.

  • Jennifer A

    I love to bring a gift as well as wash linens and remake the bed before I leave when I’m a house guest. I like to leave a house just as I found it, if not better 🙂 Same thing when you borrow a car, fill up the tank no matter what… I just love Lo & Sons bags too!

  • Joanne B

    Must haves for the plane: a pashmina, noise cancelling headphones (unless I can fly business and then they are provided), an easy to access small bag of essentials, a really engrossing book to read, music, a small piece of brie with an apple or pear, and ideally a ticket to Italy !

  • Chinelle

    A think a good houseguest tip is to offer to cook breakfast or dinner once while you’re visiting. It gives your host/hostess a night off, shows your appreciation and allows you to show off your cooking skills!

  • Steel Springs

    Great tips! I try to help out with kitchen clean up, since it always seems like there’s a lot more of that when guests are around.

  • fabulousaurus

    If I can remember, I like to bring beer from where I’m from (thus leaving me room to take home beer from my visit).

  • Lee

    If you are staying with someone, get them a present. Either bring it from home, or take them out during the trip, or send them something afterwards.

  • Selena

    Travel tip – Pre-load movies on your iPad and bring Bose noise-canceling headphones on the plane.
    Houseguest tip – Bring a bottle of wine when you show up, and mail a thank-you card afterward. And, don’t stay longer than 3 nights in a row!

  • Sheila Hall

    I really like traveling light with just taking carry on and make sure to roll my clothes so I can fit more in.

  • Kelly

    My best tip is to pack light and plan out in your head in what order you want to take off all your stuff at TSA so it will be easy and quick to get through the line.

  • Mahdi Martin

    I always like to wash my own dishes, unless the host insists otherwise. Then I find other ways to help out.

  • ben

    Pack light. Learned this the hard way.

  • Aaron

    Always a hand-written, mailed thank you card on the back end.

  • j

    When I fly, I always travel with gum…helps with the change in altitude and it’s always nice to not be that seat mate with nasty breath. When I stay with friends I always bring goodies from back home that are unique to my corner of the world.

    Jjl32 at Georgetown dot edu

  • deneen

    I try to really travel light, pack healthy snacks, drink plenty of water & be as pleasant as possible to the airline/hotel staff. As a house guest – I restock the fridge.

  • Nicole

    To pack light, I decide before I pack if I want to take black or brown accessories, and plan from there. Limiting shoes and bags goes a long way to eliminating unnecessary bulk in my bag.

  • Kimberly

    I always pack comfortable, worn in shoes. Nothing like having feet that hurt when you’re traveling!

  • Jenni

    I always bring a hostess gift and offer to do the dishes!

  • Craig Brewczynski

    The best house guest is one who doesn’t assume they can have the run of the place and brings everything they would need – toothpaste, soap, contact solution, etc.

  • Stephanie

    Packing cubes have changed my life. As a guest, I like to jump up and do the dishes before anyone gets a chance to say no!

  • Jessica Hansen Frazer

    My travel tip is to bring some clothing that I am about to get rid of….like basic cheap tees/cardigans. That way when I am done with the trip, I toss them and have room for new items I have purchased on my trip. I come back with a suitcase half packed full of new clothing!

  • Amanda Julia

    As a guest, I always try to go with the flow and adapt my daily routine to my hosts. Your host is already having to accommodate their routine to let you stay, I figure the least you can do is reciprocate the effort!

  • Maureen

    To be a good house guest, I do more than my host expects such as wash all the dishes. For my friend who is a single Mom, I do whatever laundry obviously needs washing or fold the laundry that is already in the dryer.

  • Candace Armstrong

    Set expectations for when you’re there. Are you exhausted and know that you’re going to sleep in till 10:00 am and your host usually wakes up at 8:00 am? Tell your host that! I have no problem when guests sleep in (it’s often their vacation) I just like to have an estimation of when to expect them.

  • Ashley

    A thank-you note is a definite must. A nice bonus is a small gift for the host. Keep your stuff contained – don’t spread out all over the place. A travel tip that has really helped me over the years is rolling my clothes – gives you more space and (usually) doesn’t wrinkle clothes too badly.

  • Charmingly Blunt

    The music on the travel bag video is so jazzy it makes me want to toss my passport into a snappy bag and jet off to Paris. Or Madrid. Maybe Budapest.

    I’m think I’m a pretty good house guest: I never, ever show up empty-handed, always cook at least one meal, and do all sorts of housey things; dishes, laundry, making the bed, recycling, hanging prints. After all, even for the best of friends, it’s an intrusion having someone else in your home, and most of us don’t have the luxury of too much space. At any rate – I always get invited back! 🙂

  • adrienne

    To be a good house guest, I typically offer to make dinner. Also, ALWAYS clean up after myself and keep my toiletries in a travel bag rather than all over the bathroom counter.

  • Cara

    Travel tip: drinks lots of water & wear shoes that are easy to remove/not smelly at airport security.

    House guest tip: strip the bed’s linens before you leave & offer to re-make the bed/throw sheets in the washer.

  • Eleanora R

    House guest tip: leave the friend/family with a nice surprise gift and note when you leave. Followers, a candle, favorite food, chocolates, just something nice to show your appreciation somewhere where they’ll find it. Even if you had a rocky experience at first, it will leave a nice taste in their mouth when you leave. You’ll leave a lasting good impression.

  • Nora

    Travel: wear your heaviest shoes to the airport – pack Tieks. Always have a reusable waterbottle – KleenKanteen rocks.
    House Guest: Always bring a small gift – I usually bring wine or a small potted plant. Send a Thank you note when you get home. 🙂

  • Leacy Burke

    Tip for traveling well…always dress in layers..planes are too hot, airports are too cold; and scarves can double as blankets in a pinch!

    Houseguest? Cook at least one meal for your hosts and always send a thank you note!

  • lauraoppenheimer

    Being a good houseguest: Always offer to do the dishes, but always get out of the way if a host politely says they are doing fine.

  • Jill

    Houseguesting well: Be fully present when you have time together with your host. And sneak a surprise thank you note in the refrigerator or under a vehicle windshield wiper before you leave – somewhere they’ll soon see & be able to read your handwritten gratitude!

    Traveling well: Smile & be gracious with everyone in the traveling process – security guards, taxi drivers, TSA, flight attendants, the mom with a baby, gas station clerks, etc. It makes for a more peaceful process all around!

  • rachel

    Respect that it’s not your home! Bring a gift and be flexible. And enjoy being with friends who are willing to open up their home to you. 🙂

  • Alexis E.

    House Guest Tip: Always bring a small gift – something unique from where you are from or a simply floral arrangement from a nearby store. And, leave a handwritten thank you note at the end of your stay.

  • nicabot

    As a good house guest tip, a simple thank you card is always a great way to wrap up your stay. I like to leave a homemade small gift along with the card, like a small jar of apple butter or pickles, as well as a homemade coupon tucked into the card good for one stay at my house whenever they come to town. Thanks!!

  • Jennifer

    Definitely packing as light as possible!

  • Leah

    Bring healthy snacks with you while traveling to keep your energy up!

  • Lauren Nicole

    **Travel tip: Make sure to bring your chargers and keep them organized- I personally use the GridIt system, so easy!

    ***Be a great houseguest! Express gratitude. Saying thank you goes a very long way. My boyfriend always appreciates when a guest says they are thankful to be there and it’s always nice to get a Thank You note afterwards 🙂

  • Kate Ramos

    What a great bag! I’ve been looking for a new travel companion and this one might be it!

  • laisitund

    Recently I was REALLY low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this.. With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – ov8h

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