How To: What Questions To Ask When Staying With Someone for the First Time

This is part of our weekly How To Series.

During our road trip we have stayed with family, friends, or couchsurfers over 150 nights.  Most of the time we are staying at a person’s home for the first time.  We have a few questions that we make sure to ask up front to avoid issues.

  1. Do you have any pets that I have not already met and are your pets allowed outdoors?  You do not want to be surprised by an animal on your way to the restroom in the middle of the night!  Of course letting a pet out who isn’t allowed outside is one of the worst things you could accidently do when staying with someone.
  2. What time do you usually get up in the morning?  It is a good idea to get a feel for the morning routine before everyone goes to bed.  Often we stay with people that have to work the next day, so we try to stay out of their way in the morning.
  3. Do you drink coffee?  Jay is a coffee seeking zombie in the morning so we have to have a plan before bed.  We always keep instant coffee with us just in case we are in a non-coffee household.
  4. How do you secure your house when you leave?  Usually we are staying with someone for more than one day and we are in the house after they go to work so we have to know how to lock up during the day.  Besides borrowing a key, it is important to know which lock they use and if there is more than one door that needs to be locked.
  5. Do you have any severe allergies or dietary restrictions?  If you are going to be using their kitchen, it is important to know if they have severe allergies, are vegetarian and do not use their cookware on meat, or are kosher and keep a kosher household.  We also often cook for our hosts, so I like to know what their dietary preferences are so I can prepare an appropriate meal.
  6. Where is the bathroom and is there anything I need to know about it?  There are often quirks to how things work in the bathroom and you don’t want to wait until you’ve got to go to find out.
Jay petting a dog

Jay always makes fast friends with pets

Other things to look for:

Do they take their shoes off in the house?  If they take their shoes off then you should as well.
Do they eat outside of the kitchen and dining room?  Some people snack while on the couch or even their bedroom, but other people prefer to keep food only in the designated eating areas.
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