Something I never considered when I moved to the City of Lights, was that my apartment would become a revolving door for all the friends, family, and acquaintances coming into town and wanting a place to stay. I’m a generally a nice person, but I also am anal-retentive, so having other people in my personal space is at times very difficult and grating. When I get that fishing email or Facebook message alerting me of impending trips to my neck of the woods, I often find myself torn between my desire to entertain and my need to maintain order within my home. I have yet to say no to anyone, because I have trouble saying no, but also when living abroad there is an unspoken code of hosting karma: what goes around, comes around, you never know when you might need a place to crash, so accept everyone–even if it goes against your better judgment. While I’ve had numerous amazing guests, I’ve also had some nightmares. I’m shocked by the lack of manners many of my guests have shown and while I know it is never their intention, many have managed to get on my nerves and driven me completely crazy. I know this isn’t entirely their fault, I’m not the easiest person to live with, but when you’re in my house…too bad. I wanted to write a short list of do’s and don’ts not just for my visitors but for all you travelers imposing upon your friends this summer. Follow these simple rules, they could save your friendship and will most certainly guarantee a return invite.
Do Hostess Gifts
A host/hostess gift is essential. You will instantly begin your stay on a good note when you make a peace offering to your host. It really could be anything. Liquor is always nice but so are delicacies from your homeland or other travels, it could even be as simple as a treat from the local bakery, just something to express your appreciation to your host.
Don’t Use My Computer
One of my biggest annoyances is when guests come to my house and just start using my computer without asking. In this day and age, a computer is about as personal as a diary–you never know what secrets people could have stored on it. Just ask first, I will say yes, I just might have to close a few windows.
Do Pay for Food
Just because I provide you shelter doesn’t mean I provide you food. My apartment is not a B&B. Even though I cook wonderfully, don’t expect me to do it for you. This means you should always bring groceries and be prepared to get the bill when eating out. I know people get huffy about food, but consider the fact that you are staying at my apartment free of charge, then consider how much you would be paying for a hotel room each night….surprise!!! It actually costs ME money to have you at my house. Did you ever think about the water, electricity and rent I pay to have you here? The least you can do is offer to buy me dinner. Chances are I won’t let you pay, but the offer would be appreciated.
Don’t Have Sex
There is nothing more awkward then hearing your guest/s having sex. Just don’t do it or at least do it when I’m not around. However, it’s still awkward for me when I find a condom in the bathroom trash or a cum stain on my guest sheets, so I would prefer that you refrain for such activity in general when staying at my place.
Do Assume Nothing
Assume nothing when you are in my apartment. I know I may say ‘make yourself at home’ but I don’t really mean it. Always ask me where things are, how things work, why they work and how you should work them. You never know when in someone’s apartment (especially European ones over a century old) there are always quirks from using certain light switches to bizarre shower heads. If you press the wrong button or turn the wrong knob it could have potentially devastating consequences. So play it safe and ask me first.
Don’t Smoke My Cigarettes
I know you don’t normally smoke but now that you’re in Europe in my apartment watching me smoke you suddenly are overwhelmed with an intense desire to smoke a cigarette too. Just because I smoke and happen to have cigarettes doesn’t mean I want to share them with you. Cigarettes are expensive and a personal indulgence, they’re not like towels or sheets, as your hostess you simply shouldn’t expect me to provide you with smokes. Buy your own pack and stop bumming mine.
This is probably my biggest annoyance when it comes to guests. I know I’m anal retentive and keep a freakishly clean house, however I’m not asking you to clean anything, I’m simply asking you not to make a mess. Keep your stuff neatly concentrated in one place (my apartment is small I don’t want to be tripping over your shit), and please, please, please, always make your bed–an unmade bed brings me to uncontrollable eye twitching.
Don’t Use My Nice Shampoo
I have two types of shampoos in my shower, one very expensive and tiny bottle and then a big bottle of cheap generic shampoo. Please always use the latter. I love you and want you to have glorious clean hair but, this isn’t a hair salon, be polite and don’t assume the fancy shit is for you.
Do Use One Cup
I don’t have a dishwasher so please get 1 cup and reuse it. I don’t want your cups piling up in my sink. On the same note, please always do your dishes and even offer to do mine.
Do Realize I’m not on vacation
As much as I do like showing you around my city you must keep in mind that even though you might be on vacation, I am not. Don’t be too bummed when I leave you alone to go to work or class or even an engagement that I can’t bring you to. My life can’t come to a complete halt because you’re in town.
Whatever you do, don’t ever complain. I’m doing you a favor by letting you crash at my place. Roll with the punches.
Do Keep My Whites White
This is one I never expected. Unfortunately, I have white towels and linens. I initially thought this was the wisest investment since you can always bleach your whites. However, a number of my female guests have managed to leave their lasting mark. I am horrified by the pollockesque black mascara and tan foundation smudges that have transformed my once white towels. It’s fine you wipe your face off on my towels, that’s what they are for, I am simply asking that you properly remove your makeup before doing so.
Don’t Call Me Mommy
I don’t have any children so I can safely say to all my guests: don’t expect me to be your mom. I don’t need to cook for you, care for you, or clean up after you. I’m your peer, you are not my responsibility. Just because I can provide a place for you to sleep, even entertainment while you are here, doesn’t mean I need to become your caregiver.