Welcome To Our Home Photo: Lee Carson

After years of being welcomed into the homes of your foreign friends, it’s time to return the favor.

Being a great host can be inexpensive and easy, provided you take a few minutes to plan in advance. And since long-distance friendships depend on those rare few days together, isn’t it worth it?

1. Have a spare key made.

This is a no-brainer, but something I avoided for a while out of pure laziness. You’ll end up with the worst meet-up arrangements to pass off the key, resulting in a frustrating week for you and a bunch of grumpy guests. Avoid the headache: get a cheap keychain and a spare key and let your guests wander as they please.

2. Make a map.

Label it with your house and fun things to do nearby. If you live in a large city, you may be able to grab a free subway map. If not, print out a zoomed out Google Map, as well as one that’s focused in on your neighborhood. Use highlighters and pens to mark different routes, points of interest, and the best sights or areas to explore while you’re at work. If my guest is arriving from abroad, I usually tape a couple of quarters onto the map in case he/she needs to call me from a pay phone.

3. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge.

The first thing I want after a long voyage is about 10 glasses of water. The dry air in the plane, the expensive water bottles you have to throw out along the way… a tall glass of cool water is an insanely simple (and yet not obvious!) luxury your guests will appreciate. For a classier version, add lemon or lime slices.

4. Bake something a few hours before they arrive.

Banana Bread Photo: dichohecho

Banana bread is the easiest. I always keep a few too-ripe bananas on hand (let them sit on your counter until they turn black, then throw them into the freezer) so I can make banana bread on the fly.

It’s super-easy to bake, makes your apartment smell incredible, and is a great snack for anyone who just flew in. You can also opt to save it for breakfast (served with a steaming cup of coffee!) for your weary travelers the next morning.

5. Grab a couple of favorites.

Does your guest love dark beer? “Sex and the City” episodes? A specific candy bar? Picking up a few of their favorite items goes miles towards making someone feel comfortable and at home.

6. Keep a bowl of fruit handy.

I only get to see my friends who live abroad every few years. There are hours (and hours and hours) of catching up, which is always more fun with some finger food. I try to have a bowl of clementines or grapes handy to break out once the chatting has gone on a few hours. You’ll need something to sustain yourself while re-living all those ex-boyfriends!

7. Point out a local cafe.

When I travel, I like to imagine what my life would be like if I lived in my visiting city. Where would I meet friends for dinner? Where would I grab a drink? Curl up with a good book? Point out a couple of local hangouts for your guests in case they want to do the same.

Cafe Connection Photo: wacky

8. Keep old magazines.

This is the best way to recycle your old magazines. Offering your guests a few old copies of The New Yorker or Glamour or Time for their trip home can prevent them from spending cash on expensive magazines at the airport, cash that could be better spent saving for their next trip!

Community Connection:

Thinking about inviting friends from afar? Would You Let A Stranger Sleep on Your Couch?
Crashing at a friends? Couch Surfing