creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Kol Tregaskes

In my travels around the US, Canada, as well as the UK, New Zealand, and Australia I bet I have visited and stayed in the homes of at least 100 people whom I have first gotten to know online. I’ve written recently of a return visit to my friend Tim in Eugene, Oregon, perhaps the first visit like this back in 1994.

I’ve thought about this as a sort of ethos of my ways of traveling, nothing really codified, but the way I go about being a guest in your home.

“I’m Not Moving In”

Most of my visits are in the middle of a trip, and often are 1 night, perhaps 2. You have stuff to do, I have stuff to do. If it looks like I am just flying through, its more about respecting your time or me adhering to some manic schedule I’ve made.

“Always Make The Bed [Effort]”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It might have been my childhood chore to make the bed in the morning, but at least restoring it is my own habit at home, right after waking up. One of my Phoenix friends told me once of guests who just left the bed a rumpled mess, and how that was received as a little bit of them being a maid service.

It’s not about a military sheet tuck, and it’s rarely as perfect as it is when I arrive, but making an effort to leave a guest room not looking like a hotel room after the band’s party.

“Yes, That Much Coffee”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I like my coffee, and at home, I manage usually to down a whole pot. I drink it after dinner, and sometimes later (yes have a problem). I have been with folks that like to brew enough for everyone to have just one cup in the morning. But hey, I understand that some people don’t want that much around.

So I do carry my own quick coffee for such emergencies. I will sneak a hot cup of water when you are not looking.

“Anything But Beets”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It’s my standard line when hosts ask about my food preferences. There is a story, and I mean it. I am an omnivore (beet exception) (and probably brussel sprouts) (okay, cooked cabbage too, plus stewed tomatoes) but I eat it all. I am find with a slab of steak or a vegan ratatouille. Who can be picky as a guest?

Except when it comes to beets.

That is a line that shall never be crossed.

“We Found Enough to Make a New Pet”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Sorry, I lose a lot of hair. You will likely find these gifts long after I am gone (D’Arcy Norman claimed it was a year or more). I do make every effort to wipe them up, but am far from perfect.

And no I will not make some reach to say it’s a gift.

“A Nub of Soap is Enough” and “How Many Thousands of Gallons of Hot Water Do You Have?”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Some friend’s showers have collections of 25 hair products, some I rummage around in drawers, and some all I end up finding is a bar of soap (unless it is made from beets). I can manage, and do travel with my own stuff. I won’t bother you for frilly stuff.

Also, I love my long hot showers. Sorry if I drain the tank. It’s where I come up with all my great ideas. The long, thought out ones…

“I Got All the Bear Preferences Covered”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I’ve had people apologize for offering me a futon. I’ve had people apologize for offering me a coach. I’ve had people apologize for offering me a hard bed. I’ve had people apologize for offering me a soft bed.

Let me be clear. I have honed the ability to sleep anywhere (except in the vicinity of beets). Comfortably. Give me a piece of plywood and a ratty sleeping bag and I am set. It’s all good.

I do, however, like my pile of pillows. Two hefty ones are fine, but I am also quite happy to use my duffle bag.


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

If you ask me for a favorite brand of beer, that’s my answer. Even in the UK (sorry, I have grown a bit fonder of the ales, but still…). It’s not required or expected by any means, but I will even take a cold Bud Light (in an emergency) (did I really write that?) (please tell me they do not brew beet beer).

“There is One Mystery You Can Help Me With”

an actual shower squeegee, what is its purpose?

an actual shower squeegee, what is its purpose?

I seem focused on the shower. It’s because of the hot water.

But here is something I have wondered about and because I am a respectful guest (or a beet fearing weanie).

When you see a squeegee hanging in a glass shower, is that an expectation you as a shower user will squeegee off the glass? I imagine it helps prevent scaly buildup. Or is there for the person who cleans? maybe it’s in case of a nasty beet explosion?

Just to be safe, if I find a squeegee in your shower, I will use it on the glass doors. I have no idea what it does.

“Turnabout Equals”

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I will extend the same welcome the next time you are in Strawberry, Arizona. The porch light is on. The welcome greeters are there (well in Spirit, Mickey and Cadu are not).

“With Big Puppy Eyes”

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by jjennayy

That’s how I will thank you. I’m mostly a hugger too. But it means much more than freeloading or saving on a hotel fee, it really reinforces these connections when I have the privilege to be in your home.

And that’s what I know about being a guest.


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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I am SO with you on the beets. Absolutely not. And the long showers. Absolutely yes. We do have one of those squeegee things, but we don’t use it very often. I think it’s supposed to keep the glass clean. Maybe if I used it I would know.

  2. Smiling at this story. I often read you with my coffee, if I am not rushing out in the morning…Thank god I drink a lot of coffee, so you did not have to go into your stash!

    I am left wondering why? Why you chose to share this lovely story about your motivation to visit friends worldwide right after that (less than exciting, I must say) thing about wikis…. worthwhile and useful as it was! I picked this one for my morning coffee rather than the wiki one 🙂

    And now you have named a new life mystery: the mystery of the bathroom squeegee.

    I have one, I never use it. I did intend to use after each shower, and when cleaner came. It never happened. I think this is one of those things we buy from that mental space that is our ‘espoused theory’ of seeing ourselves as tidy people….the theory-in-use space tells the opposite but needs an external voice for us to ‘see’ it….but that is another story.

  3. And as a host I can attest that you are a wonderful guest. The only complaint I have, is that you don’t come visit often enough. See you around again soon I hope.

  4. I can attest to it all! I remember the time you kept loading up my grind and brew coffee maker and never emptied the grounds. It eventually choked. Where did you think it was all going?? I tried roasting beets once but they’re too messy – right up there with pomegranates!
    You are welcome any time (whoopee!)

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