I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and travelling the world. To save money and really experience the culture of an area I have spent many of those nights in other people’s homes rather than hotels. Here are some tips that have helped me always get an invitation back.
Don’t be picky about where you sleep. If the only place available is a set of bunk beds covered in Power Ranger stickers then that’s where you sleep and be gracious about it. Never let your hosts give up their own bed for you. You are imposing on their space and you want to make as little of an impact as possible. Take the full over full bunk beds and relive a little bit of your childhood.
Bring a gift to show your gratitude. Try to ask what kind of things your host might enjoy and be prepared. It looks better to arrive with a well thought out gift than to treat them to dinner or a meal. Of course you should offer to treat them to a meal as well. Make your presence a pleasure for your hosts. You want to make sure that they have pleasant memories of you.
Always clean up after yourself and offer to help clean up after others. Don’t assume that the people who live in this house are perfectly happy to clean up your mess so forget any normal routine you have at your own house or with your family, significant other or roommates and pick up a sponge. Cooking a meal for your hosts is a great way to show appreciation but the mood is immediately soured when they are met with a large pile of greasy dishes and a counter top coated in flour.
Don’t use all the hot water. That’s important enough to say twice. Don’t use all the hot water.
Stay in contact. Not only because you might want to stay with them again but also because you want to stay in contact. These are people who were willing to open their home to you so they are obviously good people and the more good people you have around you the better off you are, even if you did have to sleep in a set of bunk beds.