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Stepping Into Someone Else’s Home
Traveling gives us the opportunity to see new worlds we’ve never even imagined. And it comes with the beauty of meeting brand new people.
In your travels, you may have the chance to stay with local hosts, whether in a bed and breakfast or an AirBnB, or even with a family that has graciously opened their home to you.
Whether or not you are paying to stay in this temporary home, it’s important that you know how to thank your hosts for being so welcoming to visitors! In this post we will offer you tips on how to be a good tourist and guest.
We were inspired to write this post based on the 5 Love Languages.The 5 Love Languages were developed by Gary Chapman to teach the five ways that people give and receive love, care, kindness.
People of different cultures give and receive kindness much differently than you do. With a some thought and consideration, you can use these suggestions to learn how to be a good tourist, and show thanks to the people who have welcomed you into their world.
1. Use Words
People who appreciate words of affirmation love cards, letters, and affirming compliments. This is probably the easiest language you can use to show your appreciation. Write a thank you note. Thank you cards are a lost art. They speak so much more than a text or an email can, especially when the card is heartfelt and personal.
Upon leaving your hosts, give them a kind note that expresses your gratitude, and why. Even mention a specific aspect of their kindness, such as, “It means a lot that you drove me all the way to the airport.”
Also, don’t hesitate to give thanks on the spot. If you love their cooking, tell them. If you think the bed is the most comfortable you’ve ever slept in, let them hear it!
Though handwritten is heartfelt, those in-person compliments will be remembered, too.
2. Serve Them
It’s so easy to start acting selfish on vacation, as if everyone around you is there to serve you. But it’s so rewarding to turn the favor around and help people in the culture you’re visiting!
People who appreciate acts of service are those who like to give and receive help, and often with practical matters, like chores and errands.
Offer to help with dishes or setting the table. Ask if you can help cook the meal as well. You might get to learn about traditional meals.
Be aware that in some cultures, it’s impolite for guests to offer help in the kitchen, and some men aren’t even allowed to work in the kitchen. Do think ahead.
Offer to run to the store or the market if your host is in need of anything. You can even offer to do some cleaning around the house. But whatever you do, always clean up after your own mess!
3. Bring Gifts
This love language is also not difficult to nail. So long as your gestures are thoughtful and intentional, gifts are a perfect way to show thanks!
If you bake incredible cookies, do bring those along with you, or ask if you can bake them at their home.
Traveling internationally makes bringing food along difficult, so consider finding some things in your home country that your hosts would love to receive. If your home country is known for tea or coffee, you can never go wrong with packing a few bags of it on your trip.
Check with airline and customs regulations if there are any items you are unsure are allowed in your host country.
4. Spend Time With Your Hosts
First of all, your hosts in a new country are your gateway to the culture. They probably have endless information that they can teach you, simply by being natives.
Furthermore, if your hosts appear to be people you want to be around, spending time with them is a wonderful way to engage with your hosts while also showing appreciation.
Having meals with them and inviting them on your outings are great ways to get to know them better, and also learn more about the local culture.
5. Hug, Handshake, High Five
People who value physical touch may be the ones who are very quick to hug as they greet you, or put their hand on your shoulder as they’re talking to you, etc.
So, how do you make sure to show gratitude to people like this? Do be cautious as you greet others, as many cultures will treat personal space much differently than yours.
The cultural rule of thumb is to do what others do. Learn what is culturally appropriate.
If you’re not the hugging type, and they are, get used to it. Be uncomfortable for a moment to offer, in their language, a gesture of thanks.
If you are the hugging type, and they’re not, do be careful. Learn a firm handshake. High fives, fist bumps, kisses on the cheek- pay attention and observe how locals greet one another.
Your hosts will appreciate your gesture, and especially for your consideration of their culture.
Get on out there, you classically-trained traveler!
We hope this post inspires your sense of travel, and encourages you to think about how to be a good tourist in another country.
Seeing new places and cultures is an incredible experience, and we hope that visiting people of different backgrounds will be a positive one for you!
Share this article with someone heading out on vacation, and if you know your love language, tell us what your’s is in the comments.