How To Be A Good Guest: PSA For Millennial Travelers

Whether staying with a best friend, an acquaintance, at a stranger’s home or bed and breakfast—being a good guest is important.

Review after review, Millennial travelers search for the best apartments, private rooms, and houses around the globe. After their stay, Airbnb asks guests and hosts a series of rigorous questions and sets metrics accordingly: Was the host polite, helpful, clean, kind, outgoing? With over 400 million users and far less hosts, visibility of Airbnb host ratings are much more public than guest ratings.

Over the years, the etiquette of being a quality guest has been taught less and less. Unfortunately, being a good guest as a American Millennial traveler is particularly uncommon. By no means are all American Millennials bad guests, however after traveling with fellow Millennial peers domestically and internationally, I’ve learned just how rare these skills are and just how exceptional the hosts’ reactions are when you demonstrate that you know what’s up.

I spoke with travel etiquette experts, a seasoned NYC Couchsurfing host, and a top rated Airbnb Superhost to get the scoop on the different tasks required for earning “good guest” rankings. If being a courteous guest is *not* important to you, I suggest you stop reading here. However, if putting a little more effort forth to show some empathy, appreciation, and respect is something that you’re about, here are some things to do:


House rules

As a general rule, always ask the host for house rules if they aren’t already provided.

How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

Bring a little gift

Travel etiquette experts suggest this action is only necessary when staying with friends, family, or an acquaintance. Bring a small gift of some sort, whether that be a small box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, or flowers is a real classy touch.

My mom taught me that bringing something from your hometown for the host is a nice tough. A good example of this: I’m headed to St. Louis soon and staying with a friend’s aunt—who I haven’t met and is graciously hosting me. I’m going to reach out to my friend and ask her what her aunt likes to eat or drink and bring something like that.
— Lena Ferrara Mullin, Travel Etiquette Extraordinaire
How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

Communication: Arrival and departure Deets

We all get it, travel can be incredibly unpredictable and access to phone reception can be spotty.

Try your best to keep your host updated with your arrival and departure times. (Sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting on you is not their full-time job and can come off as selfish.) If you don’t have international phone reception, no problem, just make sure to tell your host that and if you can, shoot them a message at the airport using free Wi-Fi and send an ETA.

Sharing departure time information (when you plan to leave) is also clutch, because it can help your host with planning and preparing for the for the next guest. 

Do this and you’re golden!

How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

Put All Trash In the Right Garbage Bins

Okay, this one may seem obvious, but it’s important.

If you have a private room, are sleepin’ on the couch, or even if you have the entire apartment to yourself, collect your crap and throw it away in the right bins. Rubbish and recycling laws in certain countries can be extremely strict, hosts can either get ticketed from their local governments or will may be forced to open each bag to re-sort the trash if you seriously screwed it up. So don’t be a jerk and make your host pay a ticket fee or have to go through stinky garbage because you got lazy—cause you’re clearly a sweet baby angel if you’re reading this article! ;)

How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

Strip and Fold Bed Sheets

Remove the fitted sheet, all bedding, and pillow cases. Fold everything up so it doesn’t look like a sloppy mess—you don’t need to get all Marie Kondo with precise folding techniques, but roughly folding each item will take you like 1-2 minutes top…that’s not that much time, right?

How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

Leave a Thank You Note

This one is optional. You may think it’s a bit “over the top” and unnecessary, but it’s a total game changer. I always travel with a stack of Thank You cards because I’m an old-lady at heart and just love that kind of stuff. (I also travel with my own apron if you’re wondering…). I often write a few thoughtful sentences and make sure to translate it over to the host’s language, so it’s actually legible (extra brownie-points, teacher!).

When all else fails, just scribbling the words “Thank you. From, Your Name Here” in English on a piece of random scrap paper is totally sufficient!

How To Be A Good Guest - Millennial Travelers

And there you go! Now you can flex on etiquette and be the most courteous guest with the highest rankings around! Cheers to you, traveler.

Theresa Cantafio