Wednesday, 30 May 2012

We are all Hosts or Guests from time to time

When we left Sydney for our Adventure, we knew, at least we hoped, friends and family would not only visit, but stay with us. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many friends and family have taken advantage of OUR Adventure to have their own with us for varying lengths of time.

Total guests over two years in Dublin: 21
Total guests over (nearly) 3 years in Yokohama: 13
Total guests in Kings Worthy, (Nov 2011 – current): 17

We’re able to accommodate 5 extra people with sofa bed, Mia’s trundle and the double guest bed.  In all cities, at least once, ALL beds were full at the same time, even here! Easter long weekend we had 6 adults and 4 kids – such fun!

An interesting observation is of the 21 guests to Dublin and 13 to Yokohama, 8 were the same people and I’m sure they’ll visit us in the UK too – at least they had better!

A friend told me recently of a funny story where his mum and a friend were travelling companions (older ladies) and they were asked by the wife of the sons friend who they were staying with for a few days if they ‘minded sharing a bed’. Both ladies were in their late 60’s. IMAGINE!

We LOVE a full house.

We LOVE sharing our new neighborhood and exploring (tho there is only so many times one can ‘do’ or ‘see’ the same thing LOL)

It’s important for us that MissM gets to know our Sydney friends and cousins as well as possible despite the distance between us. It’s equally important to keep the friendships we’ve made in Dublin and Yokohama kicking along with visits when possible.

MrsDanebank shared a horrid family visit story with me a while back. Too many things to mention and I don’t for a minute want to break any confidences she has placed with me, but suffice to say, I was shocked and confused when she said they are back for this Christmans! When the last visit was so shocking on so many levels, why put yourself and your family thru it again? She has no answer, and based on several close friends similar reaction, she might very well renig on the invitionat.

Based on that, and other conversations with friends over the years we’ve been away from Sydney, here are a few observations of playing host.

  • Please come with an idea of the things you’d like to see/do. It’s very stressful being a good host AND having to be responsible for planning all activities. I know it’s NOT our responsibility, but we can’t help it. Hosts won't always feel a need to join you as we've probably done the tours and other sight seeing before, but you never know.
  • If you have dietary requirements, please let your host know a few weeks before so we can accommodate your needs. Everyone's grocery shopping habits are different depending on where you live. 
  • If your hosts offer you a train pass, or travel card with money on it, please be considerate of the next visitor and top it up the last time you use it. Imagine how you would feel being given a card with zero credit.
  • Some hosts provide guests with a prepaid mobile phone so that quick phone calls such as ‘we’re on the next train’ don’t attract international roaming charges. Please make sure before you leave that you either top up the phone or at the very least offer to leave money so your host can for the next guest.
  • If your host has home help, please ensure you are up and dressed when they arrive so they can attend to your room.
  • When asked a question, please give an answer. You’d be surprised how many people, when a guest simply says ‘I don’t mind, whatever suits you’.
  • As a longer term guest, it’s polite to offer to contribute financially to grocery shopping (it’ll probably be refused, but the offer is welcome).
  • If out for dinner, splitting the bill is more than acceptable but every so often, remember to offer to take your hosts out as a gesture of 'thanks for having us'
  • Now, some hosts think it's 'right' for guests to arrive bearing gifts, while others feel a 'thank you' gift at the end of the trip is appropriate - this is really personal, and there seems to be no hard'n'fast agreement. 
  • The guests offer of help around the house is another topic that is very personal, depending on the hosts - if your hosts work full time, then of course help around the house would be appreciated. If your host isn't working then maybe they don't need/want as much help. Offer to pack/unpack dishwasher, or cook a meal, do your own laundry, play with the kids, heck even take the kids out and/or babysit so your hosts can enjoy a night out (especially if they are expats!)
  • As a guest it can be very difficult to stay clear of 'family issues' as they arise. best to politely excuse yourself and watch TV, or read a book in your room til the situation resolves itself. Don't get involved, whether you are a sibling of your hosts, a grandparent or best mate. It's not worth it.

We try out best to be good hosts and to make sure you have the best time possible and see and do as much as time allows.

  • Rooms have fresh linen and towels; there’s oodles of coat hangers (pet hate of mine is not enough coat hangers in wardrobes in hotels); bathroom is complete with soaps, tissues etc. 
  • Fresh flowers in guests room (and in our house, there's always an Ikebana or two)
  • We always make sure we ask about diet requirements before people visit as I do all my grocery shopping online. Always nice to know when a vegetarian is arriving especially with carnivores in the house.
  • We have a folder full of brochures of local things to see and do to help guests decide what they might like to do.
  • There’s a prepaid mobile phone for their use.
  • Skype, WIFI, email are available to guests either on their own laptops or ours.
  • We try in every way possible, and within the reality of our day-to-day routines of school and after school activities to ensure our guests see as much and do as much as possible in whatever time they have with us.

With several repeat visitors, we must be doing something right which is nice.

The topic of being a host and having house guests is a hot topic amongst expat friends, and I had quick google to see if there’s anything there and there is! Here’s a few to check out if you’re interested, with some great tips for BOTH parties.

We’ve got a few more guests booked to stay over summer (and we’ve even managed to book our own holiday inbetween) which we are looking forward to.

We’ve enjoyed each and every visit immensely, and we have a new found respect and admiration for the B&B's we stay in as it's bloody hard work being a good host and a good guest.

Like most relationships, it takes two (at least) to tango

With friendship

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