The Home Stay Vacation

Family vacations can be costly. A relatively economical alternative is the “home stay” which means hanging out with friends or family where they live. If this sounds good to you, remember these rules as you start to plan such a break:

Rule 1: Ask only close friends and family, starting with a letter several months ahead of your planned trip. Remember to be flexible about dates and sleeping arrangements. Don’t try to find people with whom you’ve lost contact over the years.

Rule 2: Stay no longer than 7 days. There’s probably some truth to houseguests and fish smelling after three days, so unless you’re invited to stay longer, plan on limiting yourself to a week.

Rule 3: Match your host family to your own. Choose the family you’d like to share a home stay with carefully to best fit with your own family’s needs. For instance, don’t invite yourself over to a vegetarian’s home if you are serious meat eaters.

Rule 4: Don’t arrive empty-handed. Food is always a good bet. Bring along specialty foods or homemade treats as a sign of gratitude and friendship.

Rule 5: Understand house rules. Learn how your host family operates and follow their rules. An alternative is to agree ahead of time to use the differences between your family rules and the rules of another family as an opportunity to teach your children tolerance and respect.

Rule 6: Respect the host family’s boundaries. Keep your own space tidy, and restrict your personal property to your guestrooms. Pitch in with the housework, cooking, and other chores when you return home from touring. Provide groceries for the week you stay. Cook a meal or treat the family to a dinner out.

Rule 7: Leave things the way you found them. Strip the bed linens and towels and start a wash for your host.

Rule 8: Call when you get home. Let your host family know how much you appreciated their generosity by calling them and thanking them as soon as you get home. Also, write a thank-you note and send a token of your appreciation.