5 Tips For Being An Awesome NYC Guest

Being a guest in NYC is a lot different than other parts of the country…have you tried living amongst several others in 500 square feet (and no, college doesn’t count)?!  That’s what I thought;-)

Now, I can imagine this post may get a bit of backlash from those Couchsurfing, super-friendly Australian types (no judgement!  I love Aussies, they just seem a bit friendlier than people in the rest of the world?), but keep in mind these are just tips I’m suggesting from personal experience, and feedback from NYC friends I’ve spoken with regarding this topic.  I’m by no means trying to be the Taylor Swift ambassador of NYC etiquette, I wouldn’t dare:-)


Without further adieu, here’s how to be a rockstar guest in NYC!

1. Plan Ahead

NYC is just not one of those cities where you can call on a Friday and be like, “hi, I’m jumping on a plane, see you in a few hours.  your couch is free, right?”  I mean, emergency situations, yes.  But not ideal.  If you’re planning to come to the city to stay with friends or family, trust me when I say they will appreciate as much advance notice as possible.

2. Have An Agenda

While it may seem like it’s a better idea to be all, “oh, i really don’t care what we do, you pick!”, this is actually a lot more pressure on your host.  Unless we’re either bff’s or you’re my mom/dad/dog, I probably don’t know you well enough to guess what you would like to do.  So general suggestions are always appreciated.  Do you want to hit up typical tourist spots?  Check out art galleries?  Take a brewery tour?  Catch an off-Broadway performance?  Again, you don’t have to be super specific, but some guidance is always appreciated.

3. Don’t Use A Million Towels/Washcloths

Unless you’re a NYC bijillionaire, chances are you don’t have a washer/dryer in your apartment.  Which means you are either hauling laundry to your basement (if you’re lucky), the nearest laundromat or paying for it to be sent away and washed.  This is not the burbs where you can use a fresh towel daily and just throw it in the wash…make that singular towel last all weekend, folks.  Or else your host will be all…


4. Don’t Ask To Stay With Someone Unless You Genuinely Want To Spend Time With Them

The first year I lived in NYC, I had, like, a million and one guests.  Granted, this was probably because I was a naive 22 year old and didn’t know how to say “no” to people, but it seemed like everyone I was even a casual acquaintance on MySpace with (yes, this was circa 2005) suddenly wanted to visit.  And crash on my couch.  I’m definitely much pickier now about who gets to crash (ahh, the wisdom you gain in your 30’s.)  

So let’s be clear that if you are a guest planning to use a casual friend of a friend that you met once at a bar 5 years ago for a free place to stay while in the city, at least be gracious enough to take your host out for brunch.  And be clean.  For the love of god, be clean.


5. Plan Time On Your Own

Maybe this is more of a personal thing than a NY thing, but I value my alone time, A LOT.  Whether I’m hosting for a weekend or a guest at someone else’s house for a weekend, I am not my best self if I don’t have a dose of alone time.  Plan a morning out at a coffee shop and walk around the city, or a trip to some shops you want to check out.  This still lets you appreciate the city while allowing your host to catch up on errands (and r&r) that is lingering from the week before.  Win/win for everyone!

Do you have any tips on how to be an awesome guest?  Share below!

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

p.s. thanks to “the office” (i.e. my favorite show ever!) for the images in this post!

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.


  • Heather says:

    Haha, I love this! Brings back lots of memories of city living. Advance notice is key. I’ll never forget the time an acquaintance from Japan emailed to say that he was arriving in NYC the next day and was expecting to be shown around. (He had kindly shown me and some friends around Tokyo and Mt Fuji the year before.) Fortunately he had booked a hotel, but still! My friends and I scrambled to put plans in place so that he had a nice visit and but that no one was stuck with him for the whole weekend.
    Heather recently posted..Staro Riga: A Fantastic Festival of LightsMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Haha talk about pressure! That’s a great idea of passing the guest around amongst your friends though, that way he got lots of locals to interact with (and a tiny bit more weekend time for you!;-)

  • Tamara says:

    Ahh, the towels.
    We were planning to go to NYC tomorrow, before the weather forecast was bad, and I was thinking about how many family/friends’ places we can stay but in terms of space, we just have a lot more of it out here!
    Although it’s all amazing.
    Tamara recently posted..The Most Memorable Photo Shoot I’ve Ever Had.My Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Yes, every time I visit anywhere out of NYC I’m all like, “MANSIONS!!!!” I’m so excited to hear about your NYC trip and your littles’ reactions to the tree:-)

  • Those of us who live in the outer boroughs do sometimes have wash-dryers in our apartment, but they are small!

    My other tip would be to remember that NYC is expensive and most residents don’t go to Broadways shows, clubs and top restaurants all the time. Don’t assume your host has room in his or her budget to see Mamma Mia and then have cocktails in Times Square. You are the one on vacation, after all, not your host.
    eileen @FamiliesGo! recently posted..#MOMtravelchat Twitter Party RSVPMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Oh GREAT tip, Eileen! A night out like that is a huge chunk of cash that can go towards a vacation of your own!

  • Lydia says:

    I have pretty much been a hotel over the past couple of months so I totally understand the importance of this! I’ve been really lucky to have great guests who are grateful and good at busying themselves. But I haaate it when people ask to stay and then kind of act shocked at how little space they have to stay in. Welcome to New York guys :p

    Also — I don’t ever expect gifts but I… also kind of do. I can’t imagine ever going to stay at someone’s house and arriving empty handed. I mean, it’s free accommodation in a very expensive city. So a mini gift or just the offer of a drink later on is never a bad idea. Does that make me sound cheeky?!
    Lydia recently posted..…visited the 9/11 MuseumMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      SO not cheeky, Lydia! I totes agree with this…kinda the same concept of being invited to somebody’s house for dinner, you would never arrive without wine or cookies.

    • Marco says:

      You’re right about the gift! I’ve been a guest here before I moved and every time I got something for my host, most of them were friends of course and they all got either bottles of wine or something else. Don’t ask why but once I ended up staying for a couple of nights with my friend’s friend (in her room…) and I didn’t even knew the girl, I really felt I needed to compensate for her offering her floor and inflatable mattress so I bought her a jar of cookies (yes, a whole jar) and bought her brunch. I really try to be a star guest always!

  • What a great post! I have never been to NY, and yes I am one of those Aussies, but truly the hints on this post I think would fit just about anywhere in the world where you might want to stay with friends. A great thing to do for your hosts is maybe to bring a meal, or drinks, or take them out for a meal. And do the dishes for them!
    Have a great weekend, and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.
    Life Images by Jill recently posted..A walk through Ambergate Reserve, Busselton, Western AustraliaMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Oh yes, food goes a long, long way in my eyes! Haha feed me and you’ll for sure have an invite to return;-)

      Have a wonderful weekend, Jill!

  • Nancie says:

    Great tips!

    Apartments in Korea are also relatively small. I generally keep overnight guests to people I know well, and understand the “coziness” of Korean apartments 🙂

    Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday
    Nancie recently posted..A 1749 Halifax Landmark for Travel Photo ThursdayMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Hehe I like the term cozy, Nancie! I’m going to start describing our place like that, too!;-)

  • Love this post as an English person I must confess I didn’t always get New Yorkers, this makes it so much clearer now thanks!
    Becky Padmore recently posted..In BIG pictures: the beauty of Sabah, BorneoMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Haha, yes, we are a bit of a breed unto ourselves (I think Americans outside of NYC or other big cities probably have some different views, as there’s just generally a lot more space inside their homes, which makes hosting a lot easier:-)

  • So you’re saying that I shouldn’t ask to stay with you even though we know each other so well from commenting on each other’s blogs? I’ll have to remember that, ha ha.

    I totally get what you mean about the towels even though I have my own washer/dryer in my house out in the burbs. For one trip, I took along clothespins with each person’s name on it so we could reuse towels at the hotel.

    I also make people take off their shoes at my house.

    One thing that’s hard for me when staying at other people’s homes is that I am a constant snacker. I realize that not everyone is like this, and it’s really hard for me to not raid the pantry unless I’m at my parents or in-laws. So, what’s the ” Help yourself” rule?

    • Used York City says:

      Ohhhh so glad you asked about the snacking, Michele! I actually am working on another post about tips for being an awesome hostess, and the topic of food/snacks is TOTALLY on there! I leave a little basket of treats especially for the guests, but totally believe in the “help yourself” rule, and make that really clear:-)

      Hehe, and LOVE the clothespin idea, I’m going to be stealing that!

  • I totally agree on the towel thing… sometimes I feel like I need to tie pieces of colored yarn on the corners so everyone knows which towel is theirs (that’s the excuse we get… “well,i don’t know which one is mine, so can I have another one?”)

    ….and for the love of god, take your shoes off!!! those things are filled with who knows what (ok ok, I do, it’s dog pee) and you wanna walk all over my house with that?? not happening….

    great list! although we have always lived in a small space out here, we LOOOVE having guests. i’m like an ambassador for my little neighborhood, so it’s always fun to show people how fun it is 🙂

    happy holidays 🙂
    jenn @ beyond the stoop recently posted..brown butter truffle sage rice krispie treatsMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Haha, we have the shoe rule in our house, too, Jenn!

      And agree, it’s super fun showing others the great things about your hood…I feel like you guys should eventually open up a little B&B in JC! I would totally come for a weekend!;-)

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