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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Being the Perfect Air B&B Guest

When my family travels, we like to stay in houses instead of hotels, especially when we are going to be in a location for more than a day or two.  We've had great experiences with Air B&B and VRBO in locations from Hollywood, California to Bismarck, North Dakota. Some places are better than others, but I always try to keep in mind that this is someone's home, whether they are currently living in it or not. I also keep in mind that I am being rated as a guest and those ratings will be seen by property owners considering my request to rent their property.

So how can you be the perfect Air B&B guest? I have two basic principles - leave no trace, or if you do leave a trace, leave a good feeling. Think like a teenager after an illicit house party - make it look like you were never there. And, if you're so inclined, leave a little something behind to thank the owner. Here's how:

1. Take pictures of every room as soon as you get there.  We always check out the entire place when we get there.  It's easy enough to snap pictures while you take that initial tour. It will be a lot easier to get those little things like pillows, throw blankets and dishes in the right cabinets if you have pictures of the way you found it.

2. Carefully read and follow the owner's instructions about what to do before you leave. Each owner is different, but everyone likes to know you can follow directions. If you are staying for more than 24 hours, be sure to call the owner if you find any problems or have any questions.  Owners hate to hear complaints after you've gone, especially if they could have fixed them.

3. If you use up a supply of something, replace it. Most properties have some food staples, toilet paper, paper towels or cleaning supplies. You don't have to replace everything you use, but it's just a nice thing to do if you replenish one or more of the staples. Pay it forward for the owner and the next guest.

4. Don't leave stains or smells.  If you stain something and it is washable, take care of it. Likewise, if you stain something that can't be washed, don't try to hide it. If it's something small like a pillow, leave a little money or if it's big, like furniture or carpet, call the owner BEFORE you leave. Smells are tough too. I bring Scentsy with me when I can, but I can't carry multiple warmers in luggage. Airing out the house and some aerosol sprays can help, but be careful not to leave too much scent either.

5. Clean up. Some might disagree with me, but a home is not a hotel. You don't have to thoroughly clean the house, but at least gather up all the garbage. Clean the dishes and put them away. Make sure everything gets back where it was when you arrived. Strip the beds that were used and include the used towels. Wipe out the sinks and showers so you aren't leaving hair. Turn everything off and adjust the heat/cool settings where they were when you arrived. Again, be sure to follow the owner's directions.

6. Leave something behind. This can be as simple as a thank you note, a little candy, or a gift. Something for the house like dishtowels or cooking implements is a nice touch. If the owner has a guestbook, be sure to leave a nice note with some hints for the next guests about things to do.

I'm happy to have the option to stay in someone's house when I travel, so for me doing these little things is my way of expressing my appreciation and renewing confidence in good manners and kindness.