Hosting visitors can be a bit tricky, even in the most ideal situations. After spending extensive time together, even your most beloved friends or family can become annoying. As is such, dealing with a guests dietary restrictions, different sleeping habits, moodiness and varying expectations can be taxing on the host.
Suffice it to say, these challenges can be amplified when you are hosting others overseas. In the best of circumstances, it is an amazing opportunity to share a slice our your journey with the loved ones. At worst, it could boil down to coaxing your Uncle off the couch with the promise of wine at the local pub.
To reduce the chances of creating friction between you and your guest, keep these tips in mind.
Prep Your Guests
Aside from informing them about weather conditions, cultural norms, and conversation rates, it is also equally as important to be clear on their expectations. You may want to plan an extensive trek through the mountains. But they may only want to watch Netflix in an exotic local. If this is the case, you are bound to come across issues. To avoid this, both parties need to be clear about exactly what the guest is looking for and what the host can actually provide.
So before they come, direct them to websites, magazines, guide books or other sources that can inform them about your adopted home before they come. Also mention your favorite landmarks, restaurants, etc., and allow them to do some research to gauge whether or not they are actually interested. If they aren’t, don’t take it personally. Just make sure tell them to look up their own points of interests to fill in the gaps.
This is especially important with guests who are very particular. If they are the type of person who hates everything, or enjoys being disagreeable, insist that they choose something. Whether it be a restaurant, a mode of transportation, brand bug spray or cooling system, make them responsible for keeping themselves comfortable.
We all know the frustration of spending excessive amounts of time planning an activity or excursion, only to have your guest complain throughout the entire endeavour. In order to combat this, put a little bit of pressure on them. Do not behave pettily, by any means. But if you know that your older sister is going to moan the entire week about the activities you chose, solely because you chose them, consider not inviting her at all. But if she insists on coming, allow at least one aspect of this experience be solely due to her choices.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Hosting people can be exhausting. It is not easy to constantly be “on” and even harder to try and navigate someone else through a foreign country–especially if they don’t speak the local language. Hosting someone who cannot or will not speak for themselves can feel quite like caring for a child.
Furthermore, while it can also be very exciting to show someone your new home, this can come with a lot of pressure. For example, if your guest has scarcely left his or her own country, let alone journeyed to a new continent, you may feel the need to show them everything. This pressure can be exacerbated if you know that your friend or loved one may not have otherwise get the opportunity to make such a trip.
While this may be true, you do not have to take your guest to every point of interest in the country. That is just too much pressure for both of you. Furthermore, rushing from place to place won’t give either of you time to fully take in the experience. Do the best you can do. Be as gracious as possible, but don’t try to be super host or hostess.
Stretch Their Comfort Zone
You may not want to overwhelm your guest by showing them the entire country. But you also don’t want them to spend their entire trip being basic. Sometimes your guests will come to visit your local. Other times, they will come just to see you. And other times, they will come to relax and take a break from their regular life.
All are valid reasons to travel. But it can be frustrating to play host to someone who flew halfway around the world, but refuses to leave your apartment. While it is important not to nag, it is also important to shake things up a bit. Nobody should go to Paris and spend the entire trip eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
So, be sure to give your guest one experience that they wouldn’t have had in their normal life. Whether that be a trip to a local temple, or tickets to a flamenco show be sure to introduce them to something that will inspire some level of change.
And hopefully that change will inspire them to transform them into a better guest. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Photo by Caroline