How to be a tidy, organized house guest

As I write this post, I’m visiting my parents in sunny Florida. It’s nice to be here just as the air at my Massachusetts home is starting to dip in the 50s at night. As I sit here in my makeshift bedroom, I’m considering how I make myself a tidy houseguest who’s likely to be asked to return. (Granted, they are my parents so they’re likely to ask me back, but I was thinking more in a general sense.) The following are ways to keep your life from overtaking that of your host when you travel.

Prepare a Dopp kit

“Dopp kit” is a fancy way of saying “bag of toiletries.” I keep it stocked with travel-sized, airline-friendly products at all times. That way, it’s ready to go when I am. Inside I’ll pack the usuals:

  1. Toothpaste
  2. Toothbrush
  3. Shampoo
  4. Mouthwash
  5. Deodorant
  6. Disposable razor
  7. Shaving cream

I also include items you might not expect. Specifically, things I might need that my host might not have on hand. Rather then trouble them with a request or even a drive to the drug store, I keep these things on hand:

  1. Tissues
  2. Mini sewing kit
  3. Eyeglasses repair kit
  4. Earplugs (you never know when you’ll be bunking with an Olympic-class snorer)
  5. Lip balm
  6. Sunscreen

All of these items are available in travel sizes and will easy fit inside a nice bag.

Charger cables

I always pack the cables and wall chargers I need, so I don’t end up begging to use someone else’s. If you travel often, acquire a second set of your usual cables so your travel bag is always ready to go and you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pack what you need.

Bring a small gift

This is more of a manners item than an organizing tip, but a small host gift is always appreciated, especially when it’s useful. The gift need not be anything extravagant, but a small thank-you for the hospitality your hosts are showing you is always a good idea.

Aside from items I bring, there are a few things I always do when staying in someone’s home.

Keep your sleeping area neat

In addition to being polite, being organized during your stay also helps you when it’s time to head home. You’re less likely to leave something at a host’s home when you’re tidy than when things are strewn about. Keep your toiletries in your bag and not sprawled across the sink, make your bed every morning and strip the sheets just before you leave, put all your dirty clothes in a hamper or laundry bag, etc. Be sure to give yourself a full hour to pack up when leaving someone’s home, even if you only need 15 or 20 minutes. The extra time will keep you from rushing and allow you to take care of everything you need to do.

8 Comments for “How to be a tidy, organized house guest”

  1. posted by Julie Bestry on

    It’s actually a brand! Dopp kits were named for leather artisan Charles Doppelt, who “invented” his toiletry case just after WWI. During WWII, the US Army gave Dopp’s kits to inductees — which was better for them than the free cigarettes! (Dopp sold to Samsonite in the 70s, I think; Buxton owns the company now.) I know my father (now in his 90s) always included a styptic pencil in his Dopp Kit for stopping bleeding after a shaving cut or the itch of a bug bite.

    Personally, I always recommend carrying mini bottles of meds (antacids, aspirin, etc.) so you don’t have to root around in your host’s drawers and cabinets when you’re feeling unwell.

  2. posted by Lee Cockrum on

    I have an LLBean bag that I love. It unzippers and has a hook so you can hang on a hook in the bathroom etc. I always bring cotton balls, q-tips, band aids, antibiotic cream, and other meds as someone listed above.

  3. posted by Zack on

    Uh sewing kit. No, that’s what dry cleaners or CVS is for

  4. posted by KJ on

    When I am going to a hotel I always also include an extension cord so I can be sure to have my phone/alarm/radio next to me on the night stand.

  5. posted by laura m. on

    Even when we stay in a motel for more than one night, I straighten the bed and keep toiletry bags put elsewhere so maid can clean the sink area. We prefer not to stay in someone’s house as we like our privacy and don’t want to be tied to anyone else’s schedule. We take our own pillows for a better sleep, but take them to the car after getting up.

  6. posted by Tom on

    I use a ladies makeup bag and it makes the perfect diddy bag, as they’re called in the Navy.

  7. posted by Janis on

    Great list (maybe because it matches our a little!). We also love to give a host gift but like to give something that can be consumed so the hosts don’t feel obligated to keep it around. So, wine, some special food or something for their garden that we know they would like are good options. The exception is if you know absolutely that a book or “thing” is wanted. Also, have a thank you card ready to send maybe on your way out. We are of the generation where our friends and close relatives still appreciate a “thank you” in paper form.

  8. posted by Cyndee Boyvey on

    Another suggestion for being a good guest is keep your stuff contained in the guest room/area. I don’t want to have to work around all your guest stuff strewn all over my house and this idea keeps you from forgetting something

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