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April 21, 2015

How to be a good vacation guest

Not so long ago, non-traditional lodging sites were mainly for budget travelers and the adventurous types, but that is changing fast. Today people traveling for work, traveling for a family vacation can all find great places to stay in apartments and homes listed on lodging websites. These changes make it essential now more than ever for a traveler to learn how to be a good guest.

Some of our most enthusiastic vacationing hosts are so dedicated to their guests having an exceptional stay that they’re challenged to find their own time and resources for themselves

Ask your host questions

If a listing is at all unclear about something, Reach out to your host. Not only will you get answers to your questions, but you’ll also be able to establish a reliable rapport with your host in advance of your stay.

Be clear about the arrival time

Most hosts aren’t on the clock in the way a hotel front desk person is; they are often fitting you into their daily lives. Be considerate of their time by keeping them apprised of your arrival status. 

Also, if you know in advance that you’ll be arriving at an inconvenient hour—for example, you have a flight that isn’t scheduled to land till 11:59 p.m.—consider staying at a vacation rental with 24-hour self-check-in. You can then meet your vacation rental host the next day at a time that’s more respectful of your host’s schedule.

Be mindful of utilities

Be courteous when using appliances and changing thermostat settings. Treat the home as if you are paying the utility bills. Running the air at 63 degrees and opening the windows is a waste of not only energy but stresses the air conditioner—and the vacation rental owner. If you are heading out for a day of exploring, adjust the thermostat, and turn off the lights and appliances.

Leave things better than you found them

Many hosts do hire cleaning professionals, others mop and do the cleaning themselves. You don’t have to leave the place spic and span, as you will likely pay a cleaning fee, but leaving the remote, the coffeemaker, and other items more or less where you found them is a courtesy—and could save you disputes over the condition of the property upon departure. If something gets damaged, let the host know rather than hide it in hopes they don’t find out. Vacation rental hosts expect a level of wear and tear and will likely shrug off a broken plate. 

Ask your host about any house rules

Do the hosts require you to take off your shoes before entering the house? Do they want you to turn off the AC when leaving for the day? Do they want you to lock the doors at all times? Be a good guest by asking about these rules and then following them or working with your host to figure out a compromise if necessary.

Stick to the number of guests on your reservation

When you book a vacation rental for two, avoid bringing along extra unannounced guests to your stay, or inviting large groups over. It’s helpful for hosts to know exactly how many guests are staying at the property so they can plan out how many towels and toiletries to leave, snacks, and other amenities.

While many hosts happily share advice on local attractions and hot spots, they don’t know you well enough to guide you to your perfect vacation, and their idea of a great time might be your idea of a wasted afternoon. When in doubt, stick to simple stuff and logistics, like where to buy groceries, get coffee, get a decent breakfast, or buy gas.

Don’t rely on your host for travel tips

While many hosts happily share advice on local attractions and hot spots, they don’t know you well enough to guide you to your perfect vacation, and their idea of a great time might be your idea of a wasted afternoon. When in doubt, stick to simple stuff and logistics, like where to buy groceries, get coffee, get a decent breakfast, or buy gas.

Vacation rental guest making up the bed before checkout.

Treat your host’s home as you would a friend’s

A friend wouldn’t expect you to clean up after yourself when you visit, but neither do they expect you to trash their home. When I visit my friends, I’ll leave some dirty dishes in the sink, but probably won’t leave them on the couch. Be a good guest by treating your vacation rental host with the same respect.

Leave a review if you enjoyed the stay

A positive review can go a long way, as hosts rely on these rentals for A positive review can go a long way, as hosts rely on these rentals for their livelihoods. If the property was clean, well-stocked and there were added extras, include all of this in your review. If you didn’t have a perfect stay, constructive feedback can help hosts improve the experience. No need to get dramatic with your review or nitpick small details. Just provide fellow travelers with the information they’ll most likely find useful. Be fair, keep the review based on things the host has control of such as communication, cleanliness, and providing a great vacation rental. Don’t complain about bad weather or how a chicken woke you up in the morning.

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