Playing the role of houseguest is an excellent way to score some quality time with friends, see a new destination through the eyes of a local, and save money on accommodations. But with great privilege comes great responsibility (to alter the famous words of Spider Man’s Benjamin Parker). Being the perfect visitor requires equal parts thoughtfulness and respect. To help you nail this combo, we’ve compiled a short list of tips that’ll see you through invites to the beach, the mountains, and beyond.
1. Come with a cocktail recipe
Your hosts likely has their hands full with planning activities, preparing meals, and keeping the house in order. Offer to take over drinks duty and whip up the delicious Diamond Spritz Fizz from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes ($12; amazon.com). Better yet, bring the book with you as a hostess gift, along with a bottle of Aperol or dry vermouth.
2. Win over the kids
If you know you’re visiting a home with kiddos, it’s always a nice touch to bring them a gift, too. Try a board game, like the award-winning Spontuneous ($35; amazon.com), which the whole family can play.
3. Keep your footprint light
Dragging in a giant piece of luggage is a bit of a bummer for you and your host—the more you bring, the more likely it is that your belongings will end up all over the guest room floor. Save space by packing these Michael Kors flats ($99; michaelkors.com), which are comfy enough to wear on daily outings around town and cute enough to sport at the dinner table.
4. Take care of a meal
Footing the bill for a meal out is a nice gesture, but you could go one step further by having a whole spread delivered to the house. Arrange for a Russ & Daughters bagel-and-lox shipment from N.Y.C. for Sunday brunch, or order in dinner from iconic Aspen, Colo. BBQ joint Hickory House. Just be sure to let your host know in advance that you have something planned!
5. Leave the place cleaner than you found it
You’ve probably heard this old adage if you’ve ever been camping, but the same rule applies to bunking in a pal’s home. Before you say your goodbyes, be sure to strip the linens on your bed, and replace them with new ones if you know where your host keeps the clean set. You can also practice this tip throughout your stay by offering to tackle post-meal clean-up duty. For an extra sweet touch, leave a small gift behind, like this bright neroli candle ($52; malinandgoetz.com) or set of cute tea towels ($48 for set of 2; food52.com).