I have incredibly generous friends who've allowed me to visit for short and long stints as I hop around the world. Here are a few tips for various-length visits that not only generate goodwill but will help to maintain friendships long after saying your good-byes.
1. Be observant, especially in the Kitchen.
OFFER: For those mundane tasks, simply offer to help. Sometimes that means more than anything else. Everyone has their own way of doing things, so show some initiative and ask some questions along the way. Prepare to be put to work -- you will be greatly appreciated.
DISHES: Remember, everyone has different utensils, qualities, and standards. (ex. If there's a non-stick pan, don't take metal to it. Ask what can go in the dishwasher if you're unsure.) Set and/or clear the table. Load/unload the dishwasher. Keep your host company in the kitchen. Make them a drink. Tell a joke. Play some good music.
TRASH: If the trash is overflowing, offer to take it out. Your hosts will happily inform you where the large bins are located if it's not already obvious.
2. More than anything else, Bedding.
STRIP: I get the most positive feedback from grateful hosts when I've either stripped the bed, or better yet, remade it with fresh sheets. Feel out the situation because not every host wants the guest to wash the sheets. At the very least, strip (the sheets, that is).
FOLD: Sofa Beds are often in rooms that are smaller and multi-purpose. Be sure to put them back without your host having to ask. Notice how the bed and room looks before you get in there, and do your best to return things to their original state.
BEAUTIFY: Make your bed during your stay, even if you're not in anyone else's space. Your host may need to go into the room or other people may visit while you're out. It's an easy way to show respect and keep their house looking good.
3. Find a way to say Thank You.
CARDS: Carry your favorite thank you cards with you, if possible, and write a handwritten note. Leave it somewhere they'll be sure to look, or hand it to them on your way out.
DELAY: It's easy to thank someone in the moment, but sometimes it means more to reiterate gratitude a few moments (or a day) later. Let some of the hustle of the moment pass before a follow-up thank you so it can really soak in.
TOKENS: Sometimes it's been appropriate for me to buy a gift card to a local shop or purchase some other tasty treat I know will be appreciated. Alternatively, you can bring your favorite travel game as a parting souvenir. Play the game while you're there and then leave it as a token of the fun you've had.
There's always some way to show your gratitude. How do you show yours?