So Bridget Ekpo is this awesome lady I went to University with (Great Ife!) and apart from being a passionate social worker she has also created a YouTube channel called ObodoOyinbo TV. Though her channel Bridget aims to educate Africans both at home and abroad. She has all sorts of interesting topics and decided to ask me a few tips on how to be a good house guest abroad. This is really a good topic as summer holidays are here and a lot of people have already made their travel planes. Here is the video interview and some of my answers below, please subscribe to her videos as it has some good information. Do note that this is not the transcript so the written answers are not verbatim and in some areas more in depth.
Should people check with their friends and family abroad before visiting?
Of course they should! I mean even within the country gone are the days when people showed up unannounced. Long before you even make your plans you should have an idea of the places you will stay and ask ahead. It’s important you give enough notice so they can plan. Another reason why you need to give notice is to be sure its even convenient for you to stay as they may have other guests, be out of town or have other reason why you can not stay. Also people living abroad please be straightforward if its not convenient for someone to stay with you then just say so.
Should you bring gifts for your guests abroad?
Yes, I think you should, now it must not be something very expensive but you should. It could be simple things like Knorr, stockfish, Ijebu gari or anything you think your host will appreciate. I usually ask my hosts if they want anything from Nigeria (if they want a lot of stuff they usually offer to pay). If your host is not African you can buy them artwork or something nice from your country. Always remember it is not the cost but the thought that counts and at the end of your stay you could send your hosts a nice thank you message or card.
How long is it polite to stay with your hosts?
Well, it all depends on who your host is and so many things. However generally I would stay 2 to 3 weeks at a time. I had a 4 week holiday with a friend once and I made sure I went somewhere for like a week just so she could have a breather (I was there with the children). Also I have stayed with my siblings for months and it was ok due to our relationship, but even then many a good relationship has been ruined when you overstay. Also stick with your plans if you say you plan to stay for a couple of weeks then do not suddenly change your mind and stay for 6 weeks unless it’s at the instance of your host. Changing your plans by a few days or a week is ok but please always be considerate. I always advice people to keep visits short and sweet.
What should you do in your hosts house?
Well again it depends! if you have time then you could help them cook sometimes and generally do a little shopping here and there. For instance if you feel like eating pizza then be a good sport and order for your host as well. While its good to help around the house know your boundaries and stick with them. If you know they are really busy and will not mind you tidying up the house on one of your rest days then go ahead. Also try and study your hosts and align with their house rules, for example if they are very strict about eating on the dining table then follow suit. They may just want you to hang out with them and load them with home gist and nothing more!
What should you not do?
Do not be inconsiderate! Remember you are in someone’s home and ask yourself “if my guests behave like this would I like it?” If they are people who like company then do not lock yourself up in your room, if they prefer to be alone then follow suit. If you must stay out really late then get an extra key so that you will not have to wake up your host when you get back. There is a long list of do’s and don’t but the most important thing is for you to make your company enjoyable and not be a nuisance.
What about being a good host?
The truth is that though there are some awful house guests some hosts can also be terrible. Rather than stay with certain people I prefer to rent myself a place, in fact many times when traveling with family I find that renting a place is preferable (there are lots of options for short lets) as there is nothing worse than being in a home where you do not feel welcome. There was a family I stayed with that complained each time I went shopping, they just resented the fact that I was having a good time and no matter what I did they were always quick to criticise, now that I am older I realise they were going through a tough time financially (but still dem no try). Whatever you do at the end of your trip let your hosts look forward to having you back and not be letting out a huge sigh of relief once you are gone.