Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.’ This may well be true, and perhaps even more so when the guests are also relatives. Typically, relatives coming to stay from out of town plan to make the trip for more than just a few days. How long relatives should stay at your house is really up to you, so here are a few ways to make longer visits much more enjoyable on both sides.
Even if it means bunking up kids in one room, it is essential to offer guests who are on an extended stay a room of their own. They need space to unpack and settle in, and somewhere they can go to give you and your family some space. If at all possible, allocate them a separate bedroom and bathroom so they can go through their morning at their own pace without getting in the way of your family’s daily routine.
There is lots of etiquette around receiving guests at home — a big part of it is making their space warm, welcoming and tidy. Plenty of clean towels, fresh linen and a good selection of breakfast options will smooth everyone’s transition when having relatives stay.
Stumped about what to do with your relatives? Think of all the reasons people love living where you do. In addition to standard tourist activities, think outside the box. That pop-up farmers’ market or great neighbourhood bistro won’t be listed in guidebooks or travel brochures. It is, however, a really nice touch to get some brochures about local attractions and a city or region guidebook. It’ll provide a talking point and motivation for guests to get out and do things independently.
If you have houseguests coming the same week a major work presentation is happening, be sure to tell your visitors. Rather than seething through a work project after everyone has gone to bed, excuse yourself after dinner and prioritize your needs. When it comes to meals and groceries, give specifics about what is needed and when. And above all else let them help. Don’t be a martyr — If people are capable of looking after themselves in their own home, they can certainly step up in yours. Most guests will want to participate and remove any additional burden they are creating.
The very worst case scenario is a visiting relative who gets ill or injured and doesn’t have travel insurance. Not only are they in dire straits, your whole world can be turned upside down. The load may become heavy if you are the go-to person for all of their needs. Ask your guests ahead of time to consider adequate medical emergency travel protection. None of your personal or provincial medical coverage as host extends to visiting relatives and the costs for healthcare can be substantial. In addition, getting them back to their own country or province is made easier with the assistance that is often part of travel insurance plans. Further, travel insurance may take some of the worry out of getting sick — if a relative’s mild cold accelerates to a sinus infection overnight, travel insurance means no hesitation on their part for seeking medical attention either with a physician directly, or at the ER. And travel insurance isn’t just for out-of-country relatives - it is relevant when travelling between Canadian provinces as well.
Having relatives to stay should be a pleasant and joyful experience. Being well prepared is an essential part of that.