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I currently live in a desirable locale which is a world-famous vacation spot. Suddenly, I have a lot of friends and they want to visit me.

I don't want to be rude but I have a few issues:

  • For them, it's a vacation. But I'm not on vacation, I live here. I have things going on, limited free time and for me it's a random week of the year.

  • I'm totally willing to provide information on how to enjoy the best the island has to offer, but I'm not necessarily free or willing to go with them. Just because I know where the best beach is, doesn't mean that I want to see it for the millionth time.

  • I find the expectation that I will spend whatever free time I have with them rather stressful. Plus, I don't eat out every night, I don't go out every night for drinks, and this doesn't automatically mean that I'll invite you for dinner at my place. And yet the expectation is there.

  • They almost always poorly plan their financial needs (they don't bring enough money, or they bring their home currency which local banks reject or change at extremely expensive rates, or their cards don't properly work in this country, etc..) and they expect me to lend them money while they get their act together. Yes, I know they will return it, but I don't like to babysit.

Now, this might sound as I'm not friendly nor welcoming, but this is not the case. I am. But I have my life going on here and I appreciate a bit of respect and boundaries.

What would be the best way to handle these situations, ideally providing a very clear context even before they leave their home land to come here?

  • 52
    Are they staying with you or in a hotel? – Catija Nov 28 '17 at 2:52
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    @Catija I didn't want to specify whether I host or not, to elicit a variety of responses that didn't just serve my needs but help other people in similar situations. Personally, I did host at first but I definitely don't anymore. However I find that this is a detail; the above issues still stand. – magma Dec 1 '17 at 13:24
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    In that case it's better to say "sometimes they stay with me and other times in a hotel" because it acknowledges both options. Your accepted answer assumed you were hosting initially. – Catija Dec 1 '17 at 13:30
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    Encountered a bit of the same problem living in Prague. Probably nowhere near the level of whatever famous island you're on, but definitely recognize how awkward this has occasionally gotten. Luckily I am a bit of a social loner, so most of the time I love hosting my closer friends, but yeah, "most of the time" is far from "always". – David Mulder Dec 4 '17 at 12:22
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    @Catija thank you for your suggestion. It's important to me to learn to ask better questions and I'll incorporate your recommendations in the future. I really appreciate that. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:33

10 Answers 10

123

A few years ago, I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be in your situation, because I wanted to live in a very beautiful part of Europe. Kind of like winning the lottery, I suppose; it has its downsides. But you hit the jackpot!

Were I in your place I would have ready a generic e-mail that I could customize for particular people/circumstances. In it, I would repeat many of the things you spell out yourself in your post. Maybe something like

Dear So-and-so,

Please choose first line:

1) I'm so glad you called/contacted me! It would be so nice to see you again, and I can't wait to be your (island) Airbnb host!

2) I'm so glad you called/contacted me! It would be so nice to see you again. I know all the best places to stay on this island. Tell me what your price range is, and I'll recommend a couple of hotels/accommodations.

Unfortunately, I will not be on vacation that/those (week/days), (optional:) {but you're welcome to crash here and use this as your home base.} I am happy to tell you all the places I would visit and where I would dine out were I on vacation here. I think you'll find it a beautiful as I do.

Please plan on bringing about X (denomination acceptable in your country) with you; most people find they need at least (X-Y denomination) a day to visit the sites and for eating out, more if you're planning on some fine dining. You can change (your denomination) into (acceptable currency) at Bank Pourtoi Mondays through Fridays from A to Z, and I highly recommend (car-rental agency of choice). They charge (!!! currency)/day. Plan accordingly. If you cook/eat a few meals here/where you're staying, you may do more with a bit less.

I hope to be able to join you on a few of your outings, but unfortunately, my work doesn't allow me to predict when I'll be available. So come, but please understand you'll be seeing a lot more of the sights than you will be seeing me. I hope that's ok.

I'm looking forward to seeing you! Let me know if you have any questions.

When they arrive, I would inform them of my work hours, and when I usually go to bed, asking them to come and go as they please, but if it's a time when you're sleeping, to do so quietly.

Make the email warmer or cooler depending on your desires to see those who have expressed a wish to ‘see you’. Then actually run it much like an Airbnb without charging your guests to stay at your house.

I hope that helps.

Edited to add: I assumed the OP would be allowing guests in her home. If she wishes to discourage that, I have altered the template.

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"Oh, you're coming to (insert place name here)? That's great! Where are you staying? I hear (insert local hotel here) is very nice and a reasonable price."

This will force them to make their intentions known, if they are expecting an invitation they will have to ask directly or admit that they were hoping for one, this puts you in a good position as it makes it clear to them that their expectations and yours don't align.

If they respond by asking to stay with you or point out that they were trying to drop a hint you can reply along the lines of:

"Sorry but I'm going to be at work most of the time and I'm not really comfortable having people in the house when I'm not around. It's nothing personal, I'm just rather sensitive about my privacy."

This avoids offending them, you aren't willing to host them, but it's not their fault. Dishonest? Perhaps, and feel free to replace with another reason but making it about you means that it's not something they can change or control.

If they are asking for you to take them around or go out with you:

"Sure, we can probably meet up for an hour on Friday night after work. I can get you some leaflets for local attractions or menus for some of the restaurants in the area before you set off."

If they ask for more stand firm, as you say you aren't on vacation and it would be unreasonable to spend your free time (and money) acting like you are. Offering to possibly make yourself available for a period of time you would be comfortable with avoids making it about money which can get awkward and focuses on the lack of free time that comes with working a regular job. If you have other commitments that will take up your time you can mention these as well.

The important part is to be non-committal, use "maybe", "perhaps" or "possibly" to avoid accidentally committing to something you don't want to do. Anyone who gets offended that you aren't going to drop everything to be their host is not someone you would want to have around anyway.

Finally the lending money part, as I've already mentioned things get awkward when it comes to money. Your best bet? Refuse. Tell them that you can't spare it right now. We've all got a limited amount of disposable income at any one time and even the wealthiest of us have most of our money tied up in assets/investments/savings. This may cause friction in your relationships but it only happens once, if they can't get past it, again they aren't people you want around. Most likely they will get over it and prepare better in the future.

Remember, some people will try to take advantage if you don't set proper boundaries early on. It can be difficult and uncomfortable setting those boundaries in the first place, especially if you have an existing relationship where they didn't exist before, but once you get through that difficult phase your relationships will be better for it and you can flex and move those boundaries much more easily once they are established.

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    Thank you for your answer. Indeed I find a bit hard to handle the awkwardness you mention. I even feel guilty. But I know that if I don't set boundaries, I'll feel invaded and stressed out. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:36
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I live in such a place, and we have people who want to visit.

There are, in my case, several categories of visitors

  • the ones I really want to see, they also want to see me and we both know that. It is a pleasure to host them and we have a great time. For some reason they are also the ones who understand that they are on vacation and I am not. Anyway, I love to have them at my place.

  • the ones i do not want to see too much but for various reasons (family, mostly) they expect me to host them (or the ones who had the brilliant idea of inviting them on my behalf think so). I try to discourage them, using more or less moral tricks.

  • then there are the ones I do not want to see, full stop (not because I do not like them but because I am not a hotel or couchsurfer host). I just tell them that it is not possible. Either they understand or they do not, in the latter case I am relieved that they did not come because they would have probably been complicated guests.

Sorry if this sound impolite - everyone is different and some people love to have an open house. I do not and want to choose the ones I host (and then, when I host them, this is a fantastic stay for everyone).

There is also the possibility to have someone coming when you are on vacation, to "keep the house safe". I tend to use this for the second category of guests.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. Giving your house when you're on vacation seems like a great idea and it totally removes the issues I mentioned in my question. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:38
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Assuming you're willing to host them, just set the boundaries in advance via email:

I'm happy to provide a bed/couch for you during your time here, but please understand that I cannot provide meals or other necessities unless we discuss them well in advance of the trip. Further, I've already planned all my vacation time this year, so will still be working and doing normal household chores and other activities. As such I probably won't be able to spend much time with you. I'm happy to give you advice on what activities you might consider, and lend you the use of my kitchen to cook your own meals when you aren't eating out. I'll have a few clearly marked foods you can use in a pinch, but again, if you need something more please discuss it in advance.

You, however, will have to make some accommodations - for instance when you do need alone time you may have to excuse yourself to your bedroom or a study so they don't assume that you're available because they see you reading a book or watching TV.

  • Thank you for your answer. I don't generally host anymore but this is a useful idea. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:46
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this funny message made me register on the site just to answer :)

I am in the exact same situation, I live in a very well known, sunny spanish beach resort / party town that attracts thousands of Europeans. At the beginning it was fun to welcome friends to my house, but eventually got very tired of losing my privacy, or as you say, go out for dinner every (working!) day, let alone visiting super touristy places that I hate or just not in the mood to visit on a wednesday.

So nowadays what I do is, as some replies here also suggest, something like this:

Hey guys !!

It's so cool you coming to Spain again. The place is bustling as usual and I bet you're going to have a killer time and get some tan.

As you know my place is really tiny and unfortunately I have a lot of work. So in order not to ruin your vacation with boring stuff, I have pre-selected these cheap cool AirBnB apartments for you guys. They have a better location than my humble flat, are very reasonably priced, and you'll be right where the action is! I made sure those flats are fit for your holidays, so noise / smoking / pets / whatever will not be a problem!

Remember I will always be available to offer advice on where to go off-the-beaten path, what to do, or provide (whatever you can provide). It'd also be cool to meet on weekends for some fun together!

Have a safe trip!

  • Thank you for your answer. That sounds like Ibiza. I feel your pain. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:40
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I live in London but most of my family is in the US, and I have friends all over Europe, so I get this all the time (if it's not my family or my friends it's my family's friends or my friend's family).

Just be transactional. You're giving them a place to stay - the terms and conditions are the things you said in your question. I would literally forward them a link to your question (or do what others have said and draw up a document that covers these same points).

I would differ from what some of the others have said in the approach. You don't need to tell them how much money to bring, for example, and if they tell you they need to borrow some (and it isn't because something clearly extraordinary has happened) just say no.

Also don't make up excuses. Be honest and upfront to begin with. You're not doing anyone any favours by pretending to feel differently. Don't worry too much about hurting their feelings - they'll be fine.

Finally try to put two of the things you said in context:

"I find the expectation that I will spend whatever free time I have with them rather stressful."

And

"I currently live in a desirable locale which is a world-famous vacation spot. Suddenly, I have a lot of friends and they want to visit me."

They aren't coming to spend time with you specifically - they are going to a world famous vacation spot where you happen to live. They probably feel the same obligation to spend time with you that you do with them - more or less. Obviously they are in recreation mode so are feeling more sociable but they would probably feel rude if they didn't invite you along whenever they could. Again by being upfront you are doing everyone a favour.

  • Thank you for your answer. Indeed they're mostly coming for the location and not for me. That's worth remembering and thank you for your hints. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:43
3

I live in Toronto, and this exact same situation occurs all the time with people who own cottages in the Muskokas.

What is done is a form letter is written, and attached to the response to the request for an invite. Often, if the cottage is also rented, this document is part of the rental contract.

Typically, they read something like this:

Hello,

It's great to hear from you and we would be pleased to have you as our guests on [DATES]

As you can probably imagine, we get a lot of guests, and we've found that the following information to be helpful.

Basic Rules - Food, Money, Quiet Times etc.

Rules governing use of boats/Sports Equipment

What to Bring - Money, Food, Booze.

Arrival Procedure

Departure Procedure - Sheets in wash, vacuum bedrooms, Take garbage to the dump on the way home. Travelog type info - You may enjoy...

Because it is a form letter, it is impersonal. You can send it to your brother as an email attachment as "Something I've compiled for my many guests." without it being seen as a slight. They will read it, and the message will sink in.

It is not uncommon in Ontario to be told to bring your own sheets. Provide bed sizes if you do this (although maybe not as practical if they're flying.)

1

My answer would be a mix of WoJ's and anongoodnurse's. TL;DR: The point is to have a range or tiers of responses, and have responses prepared for those tiers of visitors ahead of time so you already know where you stand before they reach out to you.

In my case the area is not as desirable for vacations but it is a good stopping point for people and we get visitors accordingly. We think of potential visitors in four tiers (though it's more of a gradient):

  1. Good friends who want to see us and who we want to see. As WoJ said, unsurprisingly, these are also the folks who are most understanding of our own needs and inability to put our life on pause.
  2. Friends we'd host but are not likely to spend as much time with due to not being very close friends or due to repeated or business like nature of the visit.
  3. Acquaintances we barely know (have crossed paths or have mutual friends) but are willing to host, with open ended involvement as depending on their timing and personality we may want to be warmer or cooler hosts.
  4. Strangers we might host short-term as an AirBnB or CouchSurfing type arrangement. This can also call for warmer or cooler hosting, but a high priority is serving as hosts and keeping our lives secure and on track through the process.

Tier 4 and others may simply be visits you are not open to, and those cases you can respectfully decline and point them toward alternatives.

For each tier we come up with guidelines for the visit. The general idea is:

For tier...

  1. We welcome them to stay for 3 days pretty openly. Over 3 days we'd setup some minimal cost fee (e.g. 30% monthly rent, pro-rated per day) or work-trade to help us with chores and/or utilities. We give them a heads up about specifics we can provide and what we cannot so there are no surprises, but otherwise we keep expectations pretty loose since there's more trust & understanding and we can all enjoy flexibility because of that. An important detail to be clear on is duration of stay and what the limit is. For example if someone wanted to stay two weeks, we'd only even consider it if we were close and got along great already, and even then we'd establish a clear boundary based on our personal space needs. We'd say something like:

...Definitely welcome for three days, probably a week if all is going well. The second week we can't commit to, and we'd need to see as things shape up during the visit.

(We'd lean on our schedule/work demands/obligations and needing time to keep our lives and house on track between visits. This can get into awkward territory, so we are cautious about longer-term guests and in those cases need to be frank about our needs during day 4-7 of the visit.)

  1. and 3. Same as above but on the cooler end of the spectrum we start out with a fee or work-trade sooner than day 3, and in general we expect a little more support from them (e.g. for fee, 50-80% rent pro-rated daily) and/or a little less required from us. We lay out specifics of what we can provide and how we broadly expect the visit to go in terms of daily routine, access, payment or work, food and transport, so it's all clear and preferably in writing. (If done over the phone we may even follow up with email confirmation, especially on the cooler end of the spectrum here.)

  2. Same as 3 but in this case definitely getting expectations and confirmation in writing. Even with strangers there's a range of warmer or cooler receptions we'd have depending on the reason for the visit, how they connected with us, and other factors. In general we'd charge a higher fee closer to what regular rent would be, and we wouldn't commit to a stay longer than 3 days to preserve our sanity.

In terms of fees that varies a lot. Some friends who visit are students with little or no income, whereas some are much more well off than us. We think it's fair to scale the kind of support we ask for (be it fee or work-trade) using our best judgement or a 'self reporting' honor system. Also note that work-trade requires extra clarification of expectations..."if you want a job done right, do it yourself" can become brutally apparent, so be careful what you task someone with and how the task is outlined, or you may end up with more work & stress than if your guest didn't 'help out'.

  • Thank you for your answer. This tiered approach is interesting and something worth implementing. – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:32
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I would make a standard document to hand out to all these people with exact details so they are not surprised.

I wish I could take everyone around on tours, but I have limited free time and can not accommodate everyone. Please call/email in advance to make arrangements.

  1. Credit type 1 not accepted
  2. Credit card type 2 limited acceptance.
  3. Credit card type 3 accept everywhere. etc

    $10 USD = $0.05 $10 CND = $0.04 $10 EUR = $0.07 $99 JPN = $0.01 etc

Here a list of attractions I recommend (all prices per person per visit, unless otherwise stated) Prices higher during the tourist season (May-August)

  1. Beach A $50 [link]
  2. Beach B $75 [link]
  3. Attraction A. $30 [link]
  4. Attraction B. $50 [link] etc

  1. Restaurant 1 $30 [link] [menu link]
  2. Restaurant 2 $10 [link] [menu link]
  3. Restaurant 3. $50 [link] [menu link]

I pay $$$ on averages at the local food mart per week.

I can offer up to 5 people lodgings at $20 per person per night. Please contribute $20 per person per day for fridge access. Dinner $$$ or increase this by your inconvenience level. Please call/email in advance to see if we are available.

You will do this once, and maybe periodical update it, so include all the use details.

1

You might take a different approach to this that could help you generate some revenue and set boundaries at the same time.

See your situation as a business. The first thing you may want to do is setup a website with travel hacks to your area. For example changing the currency, ahead of time, would be a great hint. Perhaps do a budgeting tool for each night. Perhaps a travel guide to the best spots, etc... By using either youtube or a website you could generate ad revenue. Alternatively, if someone is already doing a great job at it, you can point your "friends" to those resources.

Secondly, only do AirBnB or some other rent a room type thing to your place. Sure you would be happy to let them crash at your place for $x per night. Just see my url to check for availability.

Doing such things might make you some money, but more importantly communicates something very different. Would you expect an AirBnB host to make you dinner each night or cover your shortfalls for travel? Of course not. Just charging for the rooms each night will do a lot to keep the worst of the freeloaders away.

The key here is to not make exceptions for anyone, using the excuse that you have so much request for rooms that this is the only way you can manage it. And if you drop the price too low, then all kinds of wierdos will show up.

To me, this is one of those "problems" that is disguised as a great opportunity.

  • Thank you for your answer and I appreciate the lateral thinking. Although, in my specific situation, I already have a job, and being a tour guide is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I don't want to be paid - I just don't want to be a tour guide. You gave me an idea though, maybe I can offer them an economic incentive NOT to come. :) – magma Dec 10 '17 at 4:26
  • @magma I think there is a lot of opportunity here that does not involve being a tour guide. I am glad I gave you some ideas though. – Pete B. Dec 11 '17 at 13:52

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