From time to time and in spite of one's best intentions, a person may occasionally become a couch-surfer. Sure, if we had the resources we'd all stay in a hotel and drink Champagne and order room service and smutty movies on pay-per-view. But if, for whatever reason (maybe an interview in another city, inclement weather, a sudden breakup, a fumigation, or just a visit), you find yourself staying on someone's couch, here are some ways you can make your stay better for everyone (but mostly your host).
• Do the dishes — Doing the dishes quickly without being asked is one of the best ways to flag oneself as a guest who wants to be helpful and doesn't take guestdom for granted. It's even better if you can get the dishes done without your hosts seeing you, so they just come in and find everything suddenly tidy. If your hosts are the type to leave things in the sink, pretend to be a house elf and clean up when they leave. If they're the tidy sort, you might have to hustle.
• If you break it, replace it — If in your hustle to clean the dishes you happen to drop one on the floor, don't worry. It happens to everybody; just own up to the host and ask what brand or model it is so you can replace it.
• Adjust to the house hours — It can be tough for a night owl to live on a morning bird schedule, but when your hosts have to work in the morning they don't want to have to step over you or struggle to be quiet.
• Hide the evidence — Upon getting up, fold up and put away any blankets, sleeping bags, air mattresses, etc. Your hosts shouldn't have to feel like their living room is your bed.
• Disappear, but only on schedule — Give the hosts some breathing time so they don't feel too invaded, but make sure to let them know your schedule. If you'll be out one evening, let them know so they won't be waiting to make plans.
• Bribery will get you everywhere — Always bring a gift that says, "Thank you for letting me live on your couch." With my friends a generous amount of alcohol is the go-to option, but use your best judgment when picking out something for yours.
• Don't overstay — Always have a plan for how long you're going to stay with your hosts. If they are very enthusiastic about getting you to stay a bit longer, it's OK to accept. But visiting friends is like performing for an audience: you should always leave them wanting more.
What do you think a person can do to be a better guest? Let us know in the comments.