Houseguest Rules We Wish We Could Post

May 2019

Roaming Reality Bites

By Sodone Withguests

Dear Houseguest,

Thank you so much for your kind (and unsolicited) offer to come visit us. We are quite certain we’ll have a great time, and you should know that we never, ever tire of seeing the same sights over and over again.

To completely optimize your stay with us, we’d like to offer a few basic guidelines:

Planning your visit:

  • We realize that traveling can be a hassle, but we would like to make the unusual request that before you book anything, check with us to see if your visit is convenient. We know you might find this surprising and upsetting, but we also have lives of our own, and our selfish and arbitrary work and leisure activities might unfortunately interfere with your preferred travel times.
  • If we send you ideas for things to do during your stay, please take a look at the material. In fact, as some of our previous guests have not realized, there are very useful things called “guidebooks” and “websites” that can help you plan your trip. Please do not arrive and say “Oh, we didn't do any planning at all for this trip -- we figure you'll know all the places to go!" Or worse, “Good morning; what are we doing today?”

  • Check the weather forecast while packing and listen to our suggestions on what to bring. Climate zones are based on scientific study, so please take weather patterns into consideration – especially if you live in a warm climate and are traveling to colder places or vice versa (And, let me just reiterate that socks in the wintertime are a prerequisite to pretty much everywhere outside of the tropics).
  • If your trip involves multiple layovers, please put some extra clothing in your carry-on. Chances are that your checked bags may not all arrive with you. There is no convenient Wal-Mart within 500 miles of our home for replacement supplies, and you probably don’t want to ask us if you can borrow some underwear (no, you cannot).

Mi casa es su casa: Rules for living surviving together

  • We have thoughtfully provided you with a map, a guidebook, and an alarm clock. Please use them as we are not your personal tour guides, cleaning crew, wake-up service, or short-order chefs. We really don’t care what time you’d like to wake up or how you prefer your eggs in the morning.
  • When we say don't drink the tap water, DON'T DRINK THE TAP WATER unless, of course, you would like to add pictures of yourself praying to the porcelain goddess to your memories of this trip.
  • Unless specifically offered, free childcare is not included in your stay. When your kids wake up, you need to get up, too. Don’t go back to sleep just because you are jetlagged or know another adult is awake -- unless, of course, you are ok with your kids enjoying a cup of espresso and picking out a new furry four-legged friend to take home.
  • Clean up your own messes. If air freshener is provided in the bathroom or suddenly appears after a few days, there is probably a reason for that.
  • We have provided you with a bed. Please sleep in your assigned bed at appropriate sleeping times (that would be at night). Do not sleep on the couch or somewhere else during the day where you will be in the way of people who choose to be awake during the daytime hours. As surprising as it may seem, the daily rhythms of our lives are determined by the time zone of our current home country, no matter what your watch says.

  • Just because we have a TV that shows English-language programming does not mean you get to chillax on the couch and watch reruns of “The Bachelorette” at all hours of the night. And don’t even think about complaining about not being able to vote for your “American Idol” from abroad.
  • If you are in good health and a relatively experienced traveler and it’s safe in our part of the world, get out. Seriously, get out of the house. Don’t hang around here for your entire stay – go out and do something on your own. Please.
  • If you have disposable income and are staying more than three days, international etiquette dictates that you contribute to the grocery fund or go grocery shopping on your own. And, when we go out to eat together, you are expected to pay for your own share. Yes: even if it turns out that you don’t like the strange foreign food. Consider that your cultural immersion experience. You’re welcome.
  • Since we happen to live far away from the luxuries of easily accessible American food, DO NOT TOUCH our Cheerios, maple syrup, peanut butter, or Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. Step away from these sacred treasures, seriously. Back off; they’re OURS.
  • Don’t mess with anything! Thanks for the thought, but no, we don’t want our computers reconfigured, a new light fixture installed, or an oil change on our car, even if you think it is absolutely necessary; please leave our home and things in the condition they were when you arrived. Unless of course, we can return the favor by adding a splash of color to your wardrobe when you are doing your laundry.

Improve your A-Game: Rules for Everyday Appearance & Attitude

  • Please shower and dress for the day before 5 p.m.
  • Dress code: at all times, you must wear pants/shorts and a top – and no, underwear does not constitute “pants.”
  • Put on a happy face. Yes, you’re jetlagged and our coffee does not taste like Starbucks and – gasp – might even come in smaller cups than you’re used to. Be happy that we made you coffee.

  • If we go out of our way and show you around, at least pretend to be having fun. Yes, we realize this is the trip of your lifetime, but it’s also the 16th time we’ve climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

See? That was it; just a few little guidelines. I did mention how much we appreciate you traveling all the way to see us, right?

We sincerely hope you’ll still visit us -- perhaps when you can’t stay so long.

Your hosts

©2019 by Tales from a Small Planet. All rights reserved.

Whenever she (or is it he?!) is not unpacking moving boxes or hosting yet another guest who sits at the table waiting for dinner to be served, Sodone Withguests can be found working behind the scenes at TalesMag. S/he was recently rated as a "top house guest" by overseas friends, mainly because s/he bribed them with countless treats and kept saying "thank you" for well, pretty much everything. Speaking of thanks, we would like to thank the many creative people on Facebook who provided suggestions for an earlier version of this piece. Sodone Withguests encourages you to share a link to with any prospective houseguests, and perhaps casually include a printout of these rules with the basket of materials you will most certainly set out in your guest room.

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