When I travel I rarely stay with friends in their homes. With few exceptions, I usually get a hotel room. There are a couple of reasons. The easy one is because the person I am visiting does not have an extra room. The other reasons, I don't want to put the person out and I am just not comfortable in other people's homes.
Like I said, there a couple exceptions. When I go back to Michigan (I stay with my brother, Kevin, and his partner Brad) and when I go east to New York to visit my friend Matt. Although I am not 100% comfortable in either place, I am more at ease and can relax and can sleep at night.
At my age, I have been out of the military and college so long I don't feel the need to bunk with people. I didn't like it 30 years ago when I was in the Air Force, so I cannot sleep on a couch or floor just to save a few dollars. It reminds me of being younger and never having a bed to sleep in when I visited my father on our bi-weekly visitation. Its not comfortable and you really don't feel welcome (It also reminds me of sitting at the kid's table on Thanksgiving. I feel I have outgrown it.)
More importantly, I am not comfortable in the homes of friends or family. I never have been and it does not matter how close the friend or relative. I think that is the way it should be.
People say, "Come in and make yourself comfortable." I have to remind myself not to say this because it would be hyprocritical - I wouldn't mean it. I think it is a crock - HONESTLY. People do some crazy things when they are comfortable.
We entertain often, and I want people to enjoy themselves when in my home but I do not want them to feel comfortable enough to complain or demand, smoke or sleep on the couch, drink the last of my vodka. I have to remember to say, "Welcome, come in." I want guests to be welcome. I don't want them to get comfortable.
So if I happen to visit a friend and end up staying the night, unlike in every other aspect of my life, I want to create as little disturbance as possible. I don't want to ask for much. If the pillow does not live up to my standards, I anxiously bury the discomfort. If the television show being watched is not a show I watch, I try to find some interest for the 30 to 60 minutes it is on. I could not conceive of complaining or demanding about any aspect of my stay. It is a strange house, it should feel strange.
I was never one of those people that would ever conceive of going to a friend's house and opening the refrigerator or kitchen cupboards to see what I can find - not even if I hadn't eaten in days.
When I was younger I always considered my Grandpa and Gramma Willi's house to be my second home so I was comfortable and I would get into the fridge. I can't say the same for Gramma's Sincler's house. And today, if I am visiting my mother's home, I would never, ever, walk in and open her cupboards. It's not my house. Perhaps if she lived in one of the same houses I grew up in I would feel different, but my mother's house is not my house.
Once I started writing this entry, it made me curious. Am I wrong to feel this way? Do other's feel the same way I do? And if circumstances force me to stay at someones home, to ease my thoughts of discomfort and not offend my host, what is it that makes a good house guest? So I did a little research, after all, I am going to my brother's next week.
According to Sue Fox, the author of "Etiquette for Dummies," the ideal house guest is "tidy, courteous, considerate of [the host's] normal routine" and ideally "really enthusiastic about whatever the host suggests." They keep certain opinions to themselves, whether they're about raising children or about home decor. "They don't suggest changing the furniture around in the living room."
And there are some rules I found:
- Stick by the Three Day Rule
- Follow Their Rules
- Be grateful and flexible
- Don't be a Slob
- Go with the Flow
- Bring a Book
- Treat Your Host to a Meal
- Bring your own Toiletries
- Offer to Help with the Dishes
- Bring a Small Gift
- Write a Thank you Note
- Don't Add to the Chaos
- Don't expect to be Entertained
- Don't be a Freeloader
I can say I do the majority of the above list. I may have to remember to bring a gift. I cannot say I always do that. And I never send a thank you note. I may email Matt afterwards what a wonderful time I had, but I don't send official thank you notes. I don't own stamps.
I would always prefer to get a hotel room, but that is not always possible, so if I stay at the home of a friend or family member, I will continue to feel less comfortable than at home, and try not to add to the chaos.