The typical summer vacation costs $1,180 per person, according to a 2012 American Express poll, and hotel accommodations typically account for a big chunk of that vacation spending. Save money by staying with friends or family and secure a return invitation by following these six easy steps.

Say Thanks

A simple thank you goes a long way toward ingratiating yourself with your hosts. Dr. Laura Trice says it makes everyone feel better and promotes peace, according to a speech on Thank your hosts frequently for everything from making breakfast to providing you with comfortable mattresses. In addition to verbal thanks, bring wine, a new hammock or vintage throw pillows to show gratitude to your welcoming hosts.

Clean Up

Hosts don’t want to feel like maids. As a guest, ask for cleaning products and scrub the bathroom, dust your room and tidy the common living areas. You’ll also want to:

  • Pick up your dirty laundry
  • Sweep up crumbs after meals
  • Offer to take out the trash

When you look after yourself, you decrease your hosts’ workload while endearing you to them simultaneously.

Spend Your Own Money

Some hosts provide a few snacks and beverages in addition to regular meals and occasional transportation. These amenities help you out, but you need to be responsible for your own upkeep. Pay your own way and pick up the dinner tab, pay for a rental car or buy groceries for the entire house, including snacks and beverages.

Cook Meals

Your cooking expertise, or lack thereof, shouldn’t keep you from helping out in the kitchen. Offer to prepare your favorite stuffed French toast, assemble lunch sandwiches or order take out. As the food cooks, set the table, and always clean up the kitchen afterwards. Even better, consider cooking a few meals at home and pack them in a cooler. Reheat them the day you arrive, surprise the heck out of your host and solidify your return invite.

Provide Privacy

Most hosts will go above and beyond in trying to provide you privacy, and you should afford them the same favor. As a guest in someone else’s home, contain your curiosity and nosiness. Now’s not the time to look through the mail, shuffle through desk drawers or open all the cabinets in the bathroom. However, you should:

  • Close your doors and curtains
  • Ask before using appliances
  • Don’t wander around the house in the middle of the night

Additionally, consider getting out of the house once in awhile. Take a walk around the block, visit a historical sight or grab a cup of coffee in town. And never disturb your host if he or she is napping. No matter how close your relationship is with your hosts, take steps to ensure everyone enjoys some privacy during your visit.

Be Your Own Travel Agent

Designer Kathy Ireland frequently welcomes guests into her French home, according to She encourages good house guests to plan their own itinerary, and her favorite tips include:

  • Learn basic phrases in the local language so that you can navigate
  • Make your own taxi and train reservations
  • Be prepared to explore the area on your own

With her tips, you serve as your own travel agent rather than expecting your host to drop everything to help you with small tasks.

When you stay at someone’s house as a guest, don’t be a burden. Say thank you, and express your gratitude with six thoughtful actions. Pleasant house guests usually can secure an open-invite anywhere they go.

Author Bio: Andrew Anderson lives in San Jose, California as a full-time surf rat and a part-time photographer and journalist.