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Traveler Guestiquette

June 09, 2023 6:09 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

photo of a pair of muddy shoesBenjamin Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Perhaps this is why most Servas visits are for two days/nights. Still, more than ever in the 21st century, Servas travelers should be mindful of guestiquette.    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This starts with reaching out to hosts. If their listing says they prefer 7 days-notice do not reach out the day before. Just because modern communication is so fast, respect the fact that you are inviting yourself into their home and that they have a life. If you are traveling with a friend who is NOT a Servas member, do not ask to stay with a Servas host. If you have any restrictions that are NOT on your LOI, although they should be, let the host know before you arrive. Have the courtesy to arrive at a reasonable hour, before 7pm in the evening and after 9am in the morning. Be sure to let them know when that will be. Once you have done so, be on time or let your host know if there will be an unforeseen delay.  

When you arrive, ask if it is okay to wear your shoes inside – this Asian custom seems to have become fairly universal in the last few years. Shortly after you arrive at your hosts’, offer to provide them with a hard copy of your estamped LOI. Many hosts keep scrapbooks or guestbooks.Find out any schedules and “rules of the house” your hosts expect you to follow – this could be bathing order in a Japanese household, morning departure time, etc. Always offer to help – making the beds, preparing food, cleaning up, whatever seems to need doing. Among other things, I have helped with homework, worked in my host’s restaurant kitchen, and held sheep while they were vaccinated.    

During your visit, offer to cook a meal for your hosts, this would include shopping for the ingredients, or take them out for a meal. When you’re sharing your story, I’ve found that people love to see pictures of where you live. It is acceptable to bring a small host gift – something you’ve made, something that represents where you’re from. This is not at all expected to be extravagant. 

After you leave, a bread-and-butter note or postcard is welcome. In addition to thanking them for their hospitality, it is nice to share (some of) the rest of your travels with them. When in doubt, show the courtesy and respect for your hosts that you would hope to receive from anybody who visits you. Finally, if you’d like to increase your knowledge of global etiquette, go here 


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