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Having travelled for six months through Brazil and Europe as well as frequently hosting Esperanto speakers in our apartment in Berlin, I’ve learned quite a lot about what makes a good guest. Here are some of my tips for keeping your host happy and making your stay more pleasant as you travel with Pasporta Servo.
Give details of your arrival and departure as soon as possible. We quite frequently get requests like, “We’re visiting Berlin next month, can you host us?” Alternatively, they want us to host them tomorrow. Umm, when are you coming? When are you leaving? We have quite a busy schedule, frequent guests and often travel ourselves, so providing all the details of your trip as early as possible will make it much easier for your host to plan their schedule. If your schedule changes, also let your host know that as early as possible.
Tell a bit about yourself. You read about us and our place in Pasporta Servo. How about you? Where are you from? How old are you? Why do you want to visit our city? Is there anything you want to do in particular while you’re here?
Give and get contact details for your host. Do you have a cell phone which works in your host’s country? Make sure your host knows your number and be sure to get theirs in case your train is delayed, etc. Also be sure to have your host’s address just in case, even if they plan to meet you at the train station or airport.
Bring a small gift, if possible. Of course, if you’re doing a whirlwind tour of Europe, you won’t always be able to provide a gift for each host, but it’s a nice token to show you care and appreciate the effort they take in making you part of their lives. If you can bring something unique to the area where you come from, even better!
Let your host know of your plans during your stay. Are you just sightseeing? Are you attending a conference? The more you can tell your host about what you will be doing will help them know if you’ll be around for lunch or dinner or an evening outing. Some guests are very low-maintenance… they just need a place to stay, while others would like more help in getting to know the city and would like to hang out and get to know their hosts more.
Take care of the bath towel the night before. Ideally you would bring your own towel, but in case you have to pack very lightly and have no space, make sure you discuss this with your host before you go to sleep. You may wake up before your host and want to shower before them.
Offer to wash some dishes. Especially on longer-term stays and when your host cooks for you, the dishes can pile up. A polite offer to wash dishes will often be very welcome. The workload for a host drops dramatically when you take care of just this one little detail for them.
Speak Esperanto. This is Pasporta Servo after all. Your hosts didn’t sign up to teach you their native language, so respect that and speak Esperanto with them. If you’re bringing a non-Esperanto friend with you, be sure to inform your hosts as early as possible, since it can be quite uncomfortable to have people speak an incomprehensible foreign language in their home. Speaking Esperanto with your travelling companion will make the atmosphere more pleasant for everyone.
Have fun! Travelling is a wonderful experience and it’s really nice to get to know other cultures and the people who live in them. Enjoy yourself and be sure to thank your host when you leave… maybe you’ll get the privilege of hosting them in the future!
Got a tip for travellers? Be sure to leave it in the comments below!