Illustration by Anna Emilia
This month we’re focusing our editorial content on travel. Whether you’re planning a cozy staycation at home or something more extravagant abroad, August feels like the time of year when everyone decides to take some time off and see something new. Our little team has travel plans as far away as Italy and as close to home as Kingston, NY, so we’ve been thinking about travel DOs and DON’Ts on a wide scale.
Today I thought I’d tackle the importance of being a great travel partner AND guest. Both are great chances to show people how much you appreciate them and how much you enjoy their company. Whether you’re setting up the guest room for out-of-town visitors or embarking on a cross-country road trip with friends, there are always tips to keep in mind that will help everyone enjoy the journey as much as you.
As always, these suggestions are my own and are only made better by the addition of feedback, stories and advice from all of you. Not everyone travels the same and we all have a story or two about trips (or visitors) that went less than ideally, so if you have something to share that could help the rest of the group better handle trips and travelers, please don’t hesitate to share. Bon Voyage… xo, grace
My 5 Rules of Traveling (with a partner/friend/co-worker)
1. Plan Wisely: Nothing ruins a trip (and a friendship) more quickly than trying to cram two very different people into a stressful situation for a long duration. So before you say “yes!” to the free house and trip to the lake, think about whether or not your travel companion/s share the same idea of what’s fun. Things to consider:
-The basics (Do you want to travel the same way, for the same amount of time and spend the same amount of money? Different budgets are the quickest way to cause upset on a trip)
-The hours (Do you all keep relatively similar hours? Do you want to wake/sleep relatively similarly or is one of you a night owl and the others early-risers?)
-The activities (Do you have similar interests in site-seeing and/or activities? Or are you on totally different pages about how to spend your free time?)
2. Be Transparent: Budgets always seem to cause stress during trips with friends, so it’s best to plan ahead for how you plan to handle meals, hotels, rental cars, etc. If you’re planning to split incidentals, it may be best to agree to create a group pot of money that you use for things like coffee, cabs, etc. Or if you agree to save receipts, agree to settle up (in cash or check form) before you get home. It’s easy for those “I’ll pay you later”s to add up.
3. Give Everyone Space: No matter how much you love someone, personal time is crucial. Even if you’re sharing a car and a sleeping bag/tent for two weeks, you’ve got to be able to find private time. When Amy and I were on the book tour we were practically attached at the hip 24/7, so we found small ways to get private time. Amy would work out at the gym and I would nap, or I would indulge in long showers so I could have some quiet “spa” time to myself. I’m also a big fan of just taking your phone and turning a phone call into a long walk where you get outside, catch up with people about your trip and give your trip partner some downtime in the room/tent.
4. Never lock someone out: I don’t care how many agreements are in place, if you’re traveling with someone and plan on bringing people back to your shared room, it’s never ok to lock someone out or shut them out while you have private time with those people. If you want to add extra people to an already agreed-upon situation, it’s up to you to find a different place to do that. Unless you’re both 100% ok with sitting in the hallway while someone else has the room. Respect your travel partner, respect the room and take extra guests somewhere else.
5. Sharing is a privilege, not a right: Some people under-pack for trips and make it their travel partner’s problem. But it’s not their issue, it’s yours. If you forgot toothpaste, shampoo or a towel, take it upon yourself to find a quick detour to a shop so you can buy your own. One day of borrowing may not make a huge difference, but several weeks of mooching shampoo adds up and creates tension where you just don’t need any.
My 5 Rules of Traveling (when you’re a guest in someone’s home)
1. Be up front about your plans and stick to them: Being a guest is someone’s home is an intimate and special event. You’re becoming a part of their daily lives and most (good) hosts will do their best to make you feel comfortable and plan according to your needs/schedule. So if you plan to stay at someone’s house or use their vacation getaway, be clear about the basics and don’t alter your plans. Here are the basics:
-Time: If you told your hosts 2 nights and decide instead to stay for 5, you should be prepared to not necessarily have your request accepted. Your hosts made their plans based on your original schedule and may have other things going on after your intended departure. Unless there is an emergency (canceled flights, etc.) you can’t escape, it’s best to not wear out your welcome unless the hosts make it very clear that they’d love you to stay longer.
-Guests: Just like your schedule, it’s important to be clear about how many people will be in your group. Showing up with 2 extra friends who need a place to crash isn’t always ok. So be honest and open about your intended party size so hosts can decide if they’re ok with that number.
2. Chip in: Every host appreciates help, period. Whether or not they try to shoosh you away from doing dishes, make sure you chip in. If your hosts physically bar you from cleaning up or helping with meals, etc. treat them to a dinner out or some treat during the stay to say thank you. It could be something as simple as babysitting their children while they grab a drink or running to grab the groceries from the store. A little help goes a long way toward getting an “any time” welcome pass at someone’s home.
3. Clean up after yourself: Leave the space how you found it- and ask what is the best way to help them with bedding/laundry. Leaving a mess is never ok. End of story.
4. Have your own plans: Nothing is more awkward than someone coming to visit and discovering YOU are their sole entertainment plans. The best guests are those that have at least a few plans a day that get them out of your hair and give you some space to yourself. Planned group activities are great, but any host appreciates a few moments to breathe, clean up and get space to themselves. If you arrive without any plans, do what you can to go for walks, see a movie, see sites, etc.
5. Follow the house rules: I know some people have customs like removing shoes, not letting pets on furniture, etc. whatever the house rules are, stick to them. This is not the time to give someone an uninvited lecture on why their tradition is wrong or not accurate. If they ask you to do it, do it. It won’t kill you to take off your shoes for a few days or not give someone’s dog table scraps. You’re a guest, stick to the house plan that makes it easiest for your host.
Also: Follow up with a thank you: Even with family- it’s always nice to know someone’s kindness and hard work was appreciated.
*More thoughts on being a gracious host and guest here…