A Good Guest at the Cottage


welcome to the cottage


Last weekend I had a chance to lounge around and do some reading why I was a the cottage. I came across an article in one of my favorite magazines that I found interesting.

The article was on how to be a good guest. As I read on, I thought to myself, this would make a really good blog, and I would do a Cottage Owners Version.

So here is The Cottage Version of Being a Good Guest.

  1. When you are invited to come to the cottage, realize that space is limited. That means a few things.   A) We all have busy lives and Summer goes by fast. The cottage owner probably has a list of family and friends that they are trying to share the cottage weekends with. A quick response is required.   B) Pack the essentials for how long you are going to be there. Storage space will be limited. You can leave the extra bag of just in-case you might need it, in the car.   C) Space is limited, you should check with your invitee before bring extra people along. Remember that space to sleep is limited, but so are supplies, and your cottage owner probably has planned for each meal. Keep in mind that the nearest grocery store could be kilometers or hours away.
  2. Which brings us to food. Check with your invitee what to bring. If you have promised to bring an item of food, again, your invitee has planned it as part of a meal. If there is a change, let them know as soon as possible so they can make alternative plans. It is also best to let them know if you have food allergies or foods that you simple don’t eat for personal or religious reasons.   Don’t bring large items that are not planned for. Refrigerator space and ice for coolers are both limited. Baked good, snacks, alcohol, pop and water are always needed at the cottage. These items don’t need to be refrigerated and can be stored if not used.
  3.  Plan your clothes, sunscreen, insect repentant and bath products. The weather can change quickly by the water or in the woods. A hot day can turn into a cool night. Your host will have their own products, but probably will differ from what you usually use.
  4. Water use. Like the food, water may have to be brought in and may be restricted on delivery dates. Find out how they use the toilets, shower and running water. That does not mean, leaving the dishes to do for your host. It means, asking your host how to use the system.
  5. Children. When being invited up to the cottage, don’t assume it’s OK to bring your children unless the the invitee said, “bring your kids or bring your family”.  It never hurts to ask, they may have not thought about it and be fine with it. On the other hand, they may have other people coming or plans for an adult only experience. Check first. Once it was agreed on, remember that you are responsible for your children, their clean up, messes or damages they make. You are also responsible to entertain them.
  6. Pets. Not all owners of cottage want you to bring your pets. Ask them first. Also, remember if they say yes, you are required to clean after it and watch after it. Animal bi-laws don’t change because you are at the cottage. Leash laws and barking  dog rules are still in-effect. There is nothing more annoying to fellow cottagers than a dog running loose interfering with their relaxation, guest or meals, other than a constant barking dog.
  7. Be self entertaining. When up to relax for the weekend or the week, plan that you will have quiet time. Bring your favor book, your child favorite movie, beach toys, fishing poles and even your own lounge chair. They have invited you up to enjoy the cottage, but know one can entertain someone all the time.
  8. Camp fires. Everyone loves camp fires. The crackle of the wood, the warmth for the fire and roasting marshmallows. Plan clothes to sit by the fire that will get the smell of smoke on them. The wind will shift, and smoke will get on your clothes. Don’t bring your favor jacket that is Dry Clean Only.  Think about the size of the fire when you are building it. The nearest fire-station could be miles away. Watch your children and pets near the fire. Medical attention will also be miles away. Fire wood can also get costly. You will drive by many places along the way that are selling fire wood. Spend the few dollars and pick up a bundle to contribute to the evening by the fire.
  9. You are at the Cottage, not a Five Star Hotel. Your invitee is a family member or friend, not the maid or cook. Offer to help with meal prep and clean up. Make your own bed. Pick up your children’s toys. Hang up your own towels. Replace the roll of toilet paper. AND don’t complain, it’s not a Five Star, it’s a Cottage. It won’t be perfect, you knew that before you accepted the invitation.
  10. Mind your manors. If you see something a neighbors does or don’t like, speak to your hostess in a private manor. You may not like the neighbor, but your hostess may have relationship with them and they also will be there long after you are not.
  11. When leaving. Take home with you your personal items. The cottage usually does not have an attic or basement to store your personal items. There is usually very limited closet space. Your hostess may be agreeable to store some items, but remember that many things left behind, may get used while you are not there, like lawn chairs or footballs. If it is important or personal, take it with you. What else can you take with you? Check to see what the garage pick up and recycling is like at the cottage. Some places have regular pick up, some have carry in carry out. Check with the hostess before leaving food items behind. If they are also leaving when you do, don’t expect them to take the extra home with them, ask them first if they would like it. If they say no, take it with you. On that note, it is also bad manors to take the dessert that you brought, after they have just supplied you with a place to stay and have fed you.
  12. Enjoy the time. You have been invited to you spend time at a place that your family or friend considers special. They have invited you because they want to share that space and time with you. Being a good guest will get you invited back many time over the years to come.