Our Advice For Making Your Holiday Houseguest Experience More Comfortable

It's that time of year again! Holiday celebrations often mean traveling to visit loved ones, and if the trip is long enough, you might plan to stay with family or friends in their homes. While this can be a joyful, exciting time, staying in someone else's house can also cause some anxieties and worries for travelers, as they will be out of their comfort zones and often worrying about being a good guest and also looking to ensure their own comfort and peace of mind at the same time. 

If you are packing your bags to stay overnight with your in-laws, your Aunt Bertha, or your best friend this holiday season, we have rounded up some of the best tips to make sure your hosts are so pleased with your presence they can't wait to invite you back. And of course, we've included a healthy dose of suggestions to help you keep your own sanity and comfort in the process. 

How to be a wonderful guest

First and foremost, like your grandmother probably always told you: don't arrive to your host's home empty-handed (via Realtor.com). Don't let this stress you out too badly; a gift need not be expensive, big, or over-the-top. Take a cue from the context of your stay. If your host is also hosting a celebration like a dinner or party, bring something they might use for the party like a bottle of wine, a table centerpiece, etc. If your host is simply hosting you for the weekend, bring something more specific to that friend or family member and their home and interests. For instance, sponsoring a date night for a busy couple is thoughtful, and a gift card to their favorite local restaurant is always appreciated. If they are avid wine drinkers, perhaps a fancy opener, stopper, or pair of toasting flutes would be in order.

Another important tip might seem obvious, but it's still essential: clean up after yourself. That means making the bed, ensuring used towels are placed in the designated area, wiping down any spills, and doing your best not to leave anything behind. Along these lines, it's always a good idea to bring your own toiletries, so that you aren't using up your host's favorite shampoo or going through private drawers or cabinets looking for toothpaste (via Emily Post). This also helps to ensure that you are comfortable and prevents any allergic reactions or skin irritation from using unfamiliar products.   

How to keep comfortable and calm in someone else's space

Speaking of keeping yourself comfortable, that is just as important as being a good guest while staying with other people. Never let your drive to be a pleasant guest override your own very real and very important needs. Being in a space that belongs to someone else can be a little jarring and can make it difficult to relax, so consider what comforts of home you could reasonably bring with you without overpacking. For instance, bringing your own pillow can go a long way to helping you get a good night's sleep in a strange place (via Realtor.com). Not only will it smell familiar, which is comforting, but it will prevent you having to punch an ancient, lumpy pillow over and over trying to make it comfy.

Noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs are also a great idea and don't take up much space in your luggage. This way, you can get a few minutes of peace and quiet as you lie in your bed, even if the house is bustling and full of people.  

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you can't figure out how to get the shower to run hot, if you don't know where to put a used towel, or you aren't sure whether your niece, who has asked you for a popsicle fifty times, is allowed to have popsicles, just ask. Not only with this alleviate some stress for you, your host will also appreciate it.

If all else fails

We get it. Even if you follow all of this advice, staying with other people can sometimes be a little too challenging for an extended stay. So if you really need a break from the chaos of your sister's kids, sharing a twin bed with your husband, or whatever the issue might be, it's okay to break up a stay between a loved one's home and a hotel or Air BnB for a night or two (via Realtor.com).

Finances are tight right now for a lot of folks, so booking a full week at a private place, whether in a hotel or other rental, isn't always feasible for the holiday budget. But if you stay the majority of your trip with family or friends, you might be able to swing a night or two in a place where you can fully relax, be yourselves, and let your hair hang down without worrying about whether you'll wake your baby nephew by getting up to use the bathroom or whether you'll be able to hear Uncle Bob snoring like a chainsaw from the room down the hall.