How Not To Over-Stay Your Welcome & More Vacation Etiquette

'Tis the season for summer shares; these communal getaways are a genius solution for cash-strapped millennials, but spending time in someone’s home and, on the flip-side, hosting visitors, calls for a bit more prudence than shacking up in a hotel. Let’s just say things can get a little awkward if you break a priceless family heirloom or have guests that don’t plan on leaving your beach-side bungalow, like, ever.
To help you avoid a summer-share meltdown, we've asked three etiquette experts to spill their secrets on how to be the perfect house guest, a renter with no regrets, and a host with the most. Stash their tips in your carry-on — along with your scoop-back one-piece and a thank-you bottle of prosecco — and get ready to look back on a weekend of fun, and nary a faux pas.
Advertisement
1 of 5
Expiration Dates

It’s on the host to figure out the details of the guests’ arrival and departure. If you fail to spell out rules, you'll be in for lingering visitors. -Jay Remer, etiquette consultant and columnist for Canada's National Post and Telegraph Journal.

There’s a saying, "Fish and house guests start to smell after three days." Usually, a weekend stay is enough. -Daniel Post Senning, great-great-grandson of Emily Post and a co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition.

Don’t take the offer “stay as long as you want" too literally — crash up to the point that you have to start doing laundry. That's usually a good sign that it's time to pack up. -Remer

A tiny white lie is acceptable to a guest sticking around longer than you expected. If you’re not comfortable with straight-up suggesting an exit, you can say you have other visitors coming. But, this is the reason we set and confirm the departure date beforehand! -Remer
2 of 5
House Rules

If you’re splitting a rental with a bunch of friends, make a food game plan beforehand. This way, Jane isn’t nibbling on Sally’s blueberries that she thought were communal. Say: "How are we handling food this weekend? Are we cooking meals together or is everyone buying their own fare?" -Post

When the host is entertaining, guests don’t need to throw down for groceries, but it would be nice to pitch in for some snacks or wine. -Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder of the Etiquette School of New York.

Guests should throw dishes in the dishwasher (or offer to wash) after meals and help set and clear the table. You don’t have to scrub the bathroom, but do tidy up après shower. -Napier-Fitzpatrick

To address someone's less-than-stellar tidying up skills, as a host you can delicately dish out comments but be up-front about the problem. Say, "I was a little disappointed we had to spend Sunday cleaning up, next year I'd like to figure out a way to make it better." -Post

Certain rentals may slap on a cleaning fee, meaning the place doesn’t have to be spotless when you leave, but you still should dispose of trash, put dishes in the dishwasher, and put away any electronics or items that you used. -Napier-Fitzpatrick

3 of 5
Free Time

As a host, you are a little obligated to spend time with guests. An hour-by-hour itinerary isn’t necessary (or appreciated), but do help set plans or suggest activities. -Post

To sidestep any awkward clinginess, the host can spell out the days and times that they are going to be busy. Code: Guests roam on their own. -Post

Guests are certainly aren't expected to watch their host's children. But, if you bring your kids to the park, for example, it would be a nice gesture to offer to take your hosts’ children along, too. -Napier-Fitzpatrick

You don't have to participate in certain activities if they’ll burn a hole in your wallet or you're feeling tired or drained that day. Say, "I need to rest. I need to pass. I need a nap." -Remer

...But, think what kind of vacation you’ve committed to. If you RSVP-ed to a three-day weekend of tennis, then you have less flexibility to back out. That's kind of what you signed up for! -Remer
4 of 5
Guest Of A Guest

It's not exactly a wedding invitation, but don't roll up with company of your own at the door. If you have unexpected visitors coming along, clear their addition with the host first. -Post

Here's the deal: If the host doesn't explicitly say "you can't have people over," it's okay to have a few friends over for dinner or a swim at the pool. Just know that, then, you become responsible for them. -Remer

Did something get broken? Obviously, fess up. It’s best practice for the damage to be covered by the person who did it, but if you decided to have a party, and the suspect disappears, ultimately it’s on you to replace the goods. -Remer

Never underestimate the power of a genuine apology. Sometimes you break something irreplaceable — a piece of china or family heirloom — but a sincere expression of regret will go a long way for mending the situation and keeping up that relationship. -Post
5 of 5
Please & Thank You

Follow this old camping maxim: Leave the site better than you found it. And, strip your bed of the sheets, even if hosts say not to worry about it. It's just nice. -Remer

You don’t have to feel obligated to pay a friend who has offered a home they normally rent out. Splurge on a nice thank you gift instead. -Napier-Fitzpatrick

Leave $2 to $3 per day for housekeepers or maids if you had them at the share. -Remer

Overnight or weekend stays call for a thank you bottle of wine (that the hosts actually like!) or something cute like a basket of jams or pickles. Week-long stays require something a bit more thoughtful: maybe a picture frame with a shot of everyone, or something that the host has mentioned they need for the house like a set of soft blankets for the porch. -Remer

Or, offer to whip up one dinner or treat the hosts to a meal out as a thank you. -Post

It should go without saying that one always sends a thank-you note to the hosts within 48 hours of returning home from the visit. -Napier-Fitzpatrick
Advertisement