Be a Good House Guest When Visiting Relatives

One of the most popular vacation destinations for young frugal families is the home of relatives. Staying with relatives, assuming they welcome you as house guests, is a great way to save money on lodging costs while getting away from home for a while.

But just because you’re visiting mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, or your brother or sister, doesn’t mean you can just make yourself at home and treat their house as if it were your own. Here are some tips for making sure you are invited back again.

Be Considerate

Every family has their own way of doing things, and if you change your behavior to match your host’s way of life, you’ll be a much better house guest than if you expect your host to cater to you.

Keep these things in mind, when you’re visiting:

  • Rising and Bed Times. When does your host family typically get up in the morning and go to bed at night? If they’re early to bed and early to rise, don’t keep them up talking until one o’clock in the morning, even if you are a night owl.
  • Children and Pets. If your host family is uptight about kids running wild and you’re a hand’s off type parent, either plan to keep a close eye on your kids or plan to stay somewhere else. Having a talk with your children about expected behavior while visiting is always a good idea. And if you’re thinking of bringing Fido along, please, PLEASE ask your hosts first. If they don’t like pets, leave Fido home.

Offer to Help Out

Playing host to a family with children can be quite a challenge, especially if your mom and dad no longer have other kids in the home. Make sure you help lighten the load.

  • Help Out With Chores. Don’t expect your hosts to serve your every need. If you want maid service, stay in a hotel. Offer to help with cooking and cleaning up. Make your beds and run to the store for that gallon of milk. Better yet, don’t ask. Just pitch in.
  • Help Pay for Food. This may not apply, if you’re visiting parents and they insist on paying for everything and they can afford it. In that case you may insult your parents if you insist on paying for food. Use your judgment when it comes to parents.

However, if you’re visiting siblings or cousins, who have their own families, it will be a great help to them if you buy your share of the food. The grocery bill is bad enough, when you don’t have four extra mouths to feed. You’re saving money on lodging by staying with them. Make sure you don’t cause them financial hardship because they have to feed you.

Show Your Appreciation

No matter whom you are visiting, make sure you let them know you appreciate their hospitality. Offer to take them out to dinner on your last night in town. Leave a bouquet of fresh flowers when you leave. If you’re really strapped for cash, write them a letter, letting them know how much fun you had and how much you appreciate them. Even if you visit every year, never take your host family for granted.

Being a good house guest is important, no matter whom you visit. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget our manners when we stay with the same people we grew up with. Make sure you don’t leave your manners at home while visiting family.


By , on Jun 24, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Olivia:

    My sister and I alternate hosting each other’s families. We pool our normal grocery money and shop together for the week or so. We also work as “teams” for dishes and clean up. Our kids are assigned to their uncle and their kids go with my husband. My sister and I do most of the cooking. It generally works out well. When they are here we plan family excursions, free and cheap stuff like factory tours and museums. When there, the guys and kids go to the beach, hang out at a friend’s pool, or do something outdoorsey (they’re in Miami). My sister and I hit yard sales and thrift stores. Talking it out has been a great help. We finally had to say 10 days is the absolute limit and it’s been much better ever since.

  2. Jan:

    We have both the ‘perfect’ house guests and the
    nightmare ones. I look forward to the ‘perfects’… this weekend we have a group of ‘nightmares’ coming…..argh…

    At least they are going to give me a lot to blog about next week..haha

  3. Lynnae:

    You all have some great ideas, too! I think Marci summed it up. Leave the place better than you found it. You can’t go wrong with that!

  4. I find cook an awesome meal helps. Also it’s a social activity to do as well. Couple of bottles of (cheap but nice) wine and some good food is what lifes about!

  5. Attila:

    This is a lovely post. We have some good friends who, because they spend four or five nights a week away from home, prefer we go and visit them when they are home. They have a very busy schedule, so I like to take bedlinen for us to use and then take home so they don’t have to wash what’s only been used a night or two. Also because we want to treat them but don’t have a lot to spare, I collect gifts for them (and others) all year round and then fill them up a gift bag before we go, adding chocolate/wine/snacks at the last minute.

  6. marci357:

    As I was taught as a child…. Always leave the place better than you found it… Meaning vaccuum when you leave, clean the bathroom when you leave, change the sheets, do the laundry, and remake the beds, ie, make sure the room you stay in is ready for whoever is arriving next.

    Taking them out to dinner is great, but so is just preparing a meal (if they will allow you in the kitchen), buying easy fix meals if you have kids along, buying groceries that the kids like for breakfast and snacks, etc.

    Of course be respectful, courteous, and polite.
    Try to make the least impact possible.
    If you are on an extended stay, try to be away part of the time, sightseeing etc, so that the host gets a break from you :)

    And – as I was taught, Always, always, send a “bread and butter” note, as they used to be called – a thank you when you get back home :)

  7. Hollis:

    Your host (especially your elderly parents or an adult sibling) may very well refuse your offer to pay for food. A nice alternative: offer to take them out to their favorite local restaurant. This would be one time where the outlay of money could be a wise expense.

  8. michelle h.:

    This is so true and so needed! I agree with Heather!

  9. Great tips! Following these will ensure that you both have a great experience – and you may even get invited back!

  10. Lynnae, this is is excellent. Now if only there was a tactful way to share it with those who may be unaware.

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