What are the big questions you have when travelling? For those that travel often, before booking a trip you probably think about the new destination’s environment to decide if it might be a good match for you. Those are questions are like: What will the country look like when I get there? How will the weather be? Will it be easy for me to get from place to place? What attractions might I see while there? Will people speak English fluently? What clothes should I pack to blend in with locals?
These questions that can circulate in your mind again and again until you have them answered through the experience.
While pondering all of these questions at home, you are probably conducting quite a bit of research on what the accommodation will be like. And, if you are going to visit a family member abroad, there may be a different set of questions that surface. For example, you could be wondering if you will get along well consistently during the stay? Will you be subjected to eating strange foods or starving? Will their house be too hot or too cold? Will you have enough space to sleep and store your stuff? Will their house be clean? Will the activities they choose match your own travel interests?
These are all natural, valid concerns. Therefore, it is only fair to consider that if you visit family or friends abroad, it is possible that they will one day come to visit you. It would be a good idea for you to alleviate their anxiety in advance with some simple steps to get ready for the visit.
There are many similarities between the US and the UK. However, when I have friends or family visit, travelling to London is quite a large consideration from their point of view. I try to answer many of their questions about differences through YouTube videos. To be honest, most of the content I produce stems from questions my friends and readers have sent through this blog, social media or the Sunny News. The top three questions I receive are: how do I get around London? What attractions should I see? How is the food?
Publishing guides to London has made it easy because I can just refer people to them and they can click on what they need at their leisure.
As an international host, it’s important for me to help answer as many of those questions in advance so guests have as little surprises as possible on their trip. But, there are also steps that I take to make sure my house is welcoming as well. Doing these things means I can relax more when they visit because I know I have done everything possible in advance to make sure their trip goes well and my guests have great memories of London, Mr Sunny and me.
Where to Sleep and Get Ready
All people need to eat and sleep, so that is where I start when preparing for any guest- international or not.
One of our best investments when we purchased furniture for our new home two years ago is a day bed that can be pulled out in to a double bed. We love this bed because when we don’t have a guest, it is small enough to allow us space in our extra room.
Next, a week or so prior to your guest’s visit, make sure all the bedding is washed. When my mother visited in April, I even bought my mother her brand new pillow.
The extra room has space enough for her to store her suitcase and a rod for hanging clothes. Additionally, the wardrobe doors have mirrors so guests can get dressed and check everything looks satisfactory before leaving ‘their’ room. Not having a mirror in the guest bedroom was a common complaint I received from my parents when they visited me in my townhouse when I lived in New York. As you can imagine, space to sleep and “live” is important to making sure people enjoy their trip.
With regard to laundry, my mother gave me the best idea a few years ago when I visited her. She has a pop-up laundry basket that guests can use to toss clothes neatly out of the way at the end of the day.
One of my best friend’s from Miami left a little bag of goodies on my bed once when I visited her for a few days. This was a fantastic idea and is something I do now when people visit. As a travel blogger, I am in hotels often. I always make sure to grab an extra shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, etc. Then, when a guest comes, I put them on their bed. If you can afford an extra special touch, a small gift of something local could be appreciated when a guest arrives too.
If you don’t have a separate guest bedroom and your guest is cool with couching it, there are a few more things you need to consider before the guest arrives. Extra sheets, blankets and pillows are obvious. But, if the room where they are sleeping has a big clock that chimes every hour or ticks loudly every second, you might want to turn it off or remove it from the room. A sleeping mask could help if the room has a lot of morning sunlight. You can easily grab an extra one on your next long haul flight.
Condition of Your Home
The condition of your home is important to consider. Remember that guests don’t expect to be dazzled by your living space. Chances are guests are grateful for not having the additional expense of a hotel. But they do expect it to be clean. Hopefully, this is part of your every day living and you aren’t partaking in a big cleaning overhaul as their visit approaches.
With regard to your exterior, keep in mind that it is the first impression guests will have of your actual lifestyle.
At the very least, clean your windows inside and out. An extra step might be to use a Wido pressure washer to clean the built up dirt from your driveway. Honestly, it’s something you can do anytime to have the benefits yourself, not just for anticipating guests.
Close friends and family probably have a good idea how you live already, but it’s nice to show them that you have taken some extra steps to greet them. This is especially true if they’ve paid a lot for a flight and have travelled many hours.
Consider if your guest has allergies or fear of certain animals. If so, keeping pets in one part of the house and carefully vacuuming and nullifying the space is important.
Dietary requirements may require a conversation. For example, I have gluten sensitivity. It helps me if a host doesn’t plan meals that are entirely based on gluten because then I am completely out of luck. Aside from just asking people in advance what foods they tend to eat or should avoid, you might want to send them an email with links to the menus for a few restaurants that you think could be possibilities during their visit. Having take out menus for them to peruse if you are having food delivered is helpful too. Providing options from different types of cuisines in different price ranges gives guests a nice avenue to express their opinions and food interests.
Finally, if your guest has any medical needs, you must take those in to consideration. If walking long distances or up and down too many flights of stairs is an issue, warn them in advance if your building doesn’t have a lift. And don’t schedule too many activities in a day that could be exhausting to your guest.
I would love to hear about any additional ideas you have to get ready for a visit from a family member or friend. Please leave your ideas in the comments, Sunny friends. Have you had any bad experiences that you can share so we can learn more about what not to do when you are hosting people in your home?
This is a collaborative post on Sunny in London.