While being a guest is often a treat, it’s always nice to make sure that your host is taken care of and doesn’t feel taken advantage of by your presence. Being a good houseguest involves taking care of the space around you and making sure you leave the space nice and clean. Follow these simple tips and you can guarantee an invitation back to your host’s home.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

First thing is first: do not stay longer than you said you would unless you absolutely must. Even with the greatest of friends, staying too long can put a strain on daily life. Plus, it’s important to remember that they have other obligations to attend to as well. Be clear and up front on the days that you plan to stay at your host’s home from the first time you contact them. This will save confusion and any possible sticky situations later on. While there, if it starts to feel stuffy, excuse yourself for some alone time and give your host some space.

Bring a Gift

No, it’s not a necessity, but it’s a really sweet gesture. Bringing your host a small token of your appreciation of them opening their home will start your visit off on the right foot. If you know your host’s drink of choice, that’s a great place to start. If you’re unsure, most people appreciate a nice bottle of wine. Aside from that, home items are appreciated as well. If you don’t think your host would like either of these things, offer to take them out to a nice dinner while you’re visiting. It will be a great chance to catch up and nobody has to do the dishes.

No Surprises

This should go without saying, but just in case, be sure not to bring any surprises along – extra guests, children or pets just to name a few. Although your host may be more than happy to accommodate any extras, it’s always nice to let them know up front. They are opening up their home and they need to know for what to prepare. If you’re considering bringing an animal, definitely clear it with your host – they may have allergies or animals that aren’t social.

Obey House Rules

Walking in the door, take note of any things that might denote certain house rules. For example, if you see a mat by the door with shoes on it, be sure to leave yours there as well. Also, be sure to inquire about your host’s routine. It’s good to know when they go to bed, wake up and how they function within their home. Obeying the rules will help everyone to get along better and lead to a smoother stay and probably an invitation back from your host.

Help Out

Although this should be common sense, it’s an often overlooked detail. Good houseguests will clean up after themselves throughout their stay by picking up their spaces and leaving the place tidy. However, a great houseguest will pitch in with the chores in general. If the dishes are ready to be washed, load them. Don’t be afraid to grab the broom and sweep up the floors, or pitch in making your favorite dish at dinner. Your host will be grateful for the help and everyone benefits.

Give Them Some Space

Although there is no doubt that your host is excited to see you, try to remember you are staying in their house. They will need some personal space to decompress and continue going about their daily life. While you may be excited to see all the touristy things in the area, they may not share your excitement. When planning your trip, be sure to always include your host, but also give them the chance to opt out when they want. Your trip should be self sufficient so it doesn’t impose on your host, but also offer options for everyone to hang out together.

Be Prepared

The trade off of not staying in a hotel comes at the price of not being able to call the front desk for that left behind tooth paste, razor or comb. Before leaving your house, just make a list of the things you’ll absolutely need. Don’t forget things like shampoo, conditioner and soap. It’s likely that your host will provide these necessities, but it’s better to be prepared than not. Additionally, if you did forget something, try asking your host where you can buy the item instead of borrowing it. It’s a nice gesture to show that you’re not taking advantage of them, even though they will probably offer a spare of whatever you’re missing.

Leave No Trace

Even the neatest of houseguests leave behind some cleaning for the host. Try to alleviate this burden by doing your part before you leave. Create a quick mental check list for everything you need to do before leaving. For example, bag up any trash, wipe down your counters and strip your sheets. The biggest thing to do is strip the sheets and fold the remaining blankets up neatly to save clean up for your host. They’ll be appreciative of the time you saved them, and you’ll ensure the next guest has a clean and cozy place to rest.

Send a Thank You Note

Ideally, you will graciously thank your host multiple times throughout your stay. At the very least, you should thank them three times: upon your arrival, standing at the door before you leave and again with a thank you note once you arrive home. The thank you note is something that will never go out of style, and it really shows your appreciation instead of just sending over a text. Plus, it keeps the door open for your next visit – everyone loves a grateful houseguest.