In Colorado, we have a saying “leave no trace”. It originated with people who were camping in the wilderness. It means when you go into the woods, you come out with everything that you went in with – even toilet paper!
You don’t have to be that extreme (actually depending on the country you are in, you might need to be!) but try to have minimal impact on the hosts’ environment that they are sharing with you.
Keep It Tidy
If you make yourself a cup of tea, when you are finished, wash, dry and put the cup back in the cupboard. Leave no trace!
Bring all your toiletries into the bathroom and pack them ALL up everyday -as if you were leaving- even if you are staying longer
Fold your bedding up or make the bed every morning. If you are sleeping on the couch, ask the host where they’d like you to put it.
Use Minimal Space
When you are at your hosts’ place, even if you are staying in a guest bedroom don’t spread out your stuff . Keep it spotless with no sign of you except for your luggage.
Buy your own groceries and ask your host where to store them. If they want you to share in their meals, please leave them a monetary tip where they will find it after you go. Especially if you think that they would appreciate it. Sharing a meal is a special bonding experience, let’s not make it an exchange of goods for money- but also remember that it took money, time and love to prepare that meal!
If you meet someone and really want to get physical with them, go to their place or get a hotel room. EVEN if your host is not home. Even if your host says they don’t mind. Nobody is really into strangers having a (possibly loud) encounter in their house.
Have Clear Boundaries
If you and your host both love movies, maybe you go to see a movie together. Just be clear about what you want to do and don’t spend your whole time there pleasing your host instead of yourself.
Be Clear About Expectations
How long will you stay? Do you want to do some activities together? What is your usual sleeping and waking time? Practicalities like this need to be out in the open for things to work smoothly.
Be Willing to Say Goodbye
Make a plan to only stay for a few days. If your expectations or lifestyles don’t work well together, just say “thank you” and move on. After the first day, if it’s still uncomfortable, it’s only going to get worse.