How to Prepare for a Visitor When Living Abroad

Hey friends!

I was lucky enough to recently have two visitors in China. My best friend Kristeen who I’ve known since kindergarten and my younger sister Monifa. Both ladies took the 24+ hour flight to come visit me and both spent 10 days.

Kristeen in China Monifa in Harbin China

There were a few things I had prepared in advance before the ladies arrived and a few things I may have missed out on. I wanted to create a list to help you anticipate any of your guests needs to make them feel as happy, comfortable and as stress free as possible.

First things first: have a red carpet and the limo ride ready. Just kidding.

Prepare an itinerary

No matter how many days or weeks your guests may be staying I would suggest having an itinerary ready to make things easier, especially if you may have to work during their stay. Send your guest a  list of things to do that may interest them which you can add to your handy itinerary. There isn’t anything worse than saying to your guest “so… what do you wanna do today?”.  This is your chance to boast about your city and create a memorable vacation experience for your guests.

An itinerary is also important because entertaining a guest can sometimes be pricey so it can help you keep a budget in mind before planning anything too extravagant.

If you’re bringing your guests to any attractions ensure you know the price of admission in advance, the hours of operation and how to get there.

If your guests plan on venturing out alone give them a card with your address so that they could show people if they get lost, especially if you live in a non-english speaking country. If you have an extra key provide them with that as well.

Interview your guest(s)

Prior to your guests arriving you may want to find out a bit more about them. Although you may have known them for a long period of time things may have changed since you’ve been away such as dietary restrictions or even health issues.

Ask them simple questions such as:

  • Is there anything you do not eat/do you have any food allergies?
  • Is there anything you really want to do while you’re here?
  • What time does your plane land?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • What is something you can’t get at home that you may want here?

Prepare them for the unknown

Explain any of your home or neighbourhood quirks before they need to ask. I had to let my guests know that I live in a very small bachelor apartment with a very small bathroom. I even sent them photos and did Skype video calls prior to them arriving. If you live in a loud neighbourhood like I do I would let them know that as well so they can bring earplugs along if they need to.


Entertainment at home

The number one thing that I would suggest you have ready for your guests when it comes to entertainment is internet access and wifi. The first thing they will most likely ask is “do you have wifi” or “what is the wifi password”.

Oh, and have Netflix ready.

Have a few books and magazines set a side somewhere easily accessible.

Have toiletries accessible

I have a secret. When I go to any hotel I take some of their toiletries that I may not have used and place them in my bag such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and soap. The great thing about the toiletries are that they are most likely travel size. Items like these are perfect for visitors who may be coming for a short time and may have for forgotten a few things. Any additional things I may think of such as feminine products, shower caps, lotion etc. I buy them in advance and place them in a basket in the bathroom.

Have an extra towel handy. This item is highly forgotten when guests come to visit.

A trash can in the bathroom is also important, especially for women. Also, have extra toilet paper that is easily accessible.

Food, food and more food

Have refreshments ready for when your guests arrive. Long flights can take a toll on someone’s body so ensure you have tons of water, some nuts and fruits readily available for when they arrive until you can get them a nice meal ready.

If your guests are coming from a completely different time zone they will most likely have a different sleeping schedule than you do if they haven’t yet adjusted to the time difference. This means they will be hungry at different times, even when you’re sleeping. Ensure your guests can find a quick, healthy snack when hunger strikes so they don’t feel awkward walking around your kitchen looking for something to eat.

Having a variety of simple breakfast options is important if you do not plan on going out for breakfast every morning. Cereal, pancakes, french toast, coffee, orange juice and fruits are good options to consider.

On-the-go snacks such as  granola bars, chips, dried fruit etc. are important when you plan on spending a day out on the road.

If you do not plan on cooking at home the entire time have a few options of some restaurant you can visit that your guests may enjoy.

Prepare for a rainy day

Not everyday is going to go as planned so you need to have a backup plan. Whether it be going somewhere else or having Netflix and chill day which can be fun so have some popcorn on hand and enjoy bingeing on some Netflix.

Pick up and Drop off

Have your guest send you their itinerary in advance. I think one of the nicest things you can do for your guest is greet them at the airport. There is nothing more refreshing than seeing a familiar face after a long journey.

Try to accompany your guests to the airport on the day of their departure. Unfortunately when my friend Kristeen came to visit I wasn’t able to drop her off at the airport because I had to head to work but I did ensure to get her a taxi at a specific time to drop her off.

Make sure to pack your guests with snacks for their journey. They will really appreciate that.

Ensure your guests have a way to communicate with people back home

Keep an old cell phone or find out what type of phone they have and if it is unlocked buy a sim card and give your guests a starter prepaid amount. This makes texting and keeping in touch easier and cheaper for your guest.

You can also download Skype or MagicApp (Magic Jack) onto your phone or computer so they can make free calls using the internet.

If you have any tips or stories in regards to having a guest stay at your house please share them in the comment section below. Stay restless my friends!

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  1. George

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