My parents are here visiting (I’m beyond excited!) and it has me thinking about planning for visitors. Since moving to San Francisco we’ve become pretty darn good at hosting visitors. I think we’ve had more come through than if we lived closer to home but in a place with less travel appeal. It’s so much fun to have our friends and family come and see our home and life here. Plus, it’s like a stay-cation for us. We spend the whole time eating out and showing everyone our favorite spots in the city with some tourist stops mixed it. We’ve done it quite a few times now so I’ve pulled together some of the best tips I can think of for hosting out of town guests.
1. Plan ahead! This has several benefits: it gives you time to make any necessary reservations, you have a chance to talk with your visitors about the things they want to see/do most, and it’s a way to make sure you get it all in. There are definitely times that certain places should be avoided and with an itinerary you can forecast all of that. Often, I make a day-by-day and share it with our guests ahead of time so they can take part as well. I like to get as much input from them as possible. We are here every day and can do stuff whenever we want. Most our visitors have never been to San Francisco before and I want to make sure they have a great time. That means they have to be involved in the planning. Visitors that have never been here usually won’t know exactly what they want to do so I ask a few key questions and assign a little “homework.”
a. Have them do a little research and see if there’s anything in particular that sticks out to them.
b. Ask them if there’s any particular type of food they’d like to try.
c. Use your knowledge of their interests to come up with things you know they’d enjoy. When I send the itinerary I try and send links to yelp and other resources so they get a good idea of what they’re in for. Plus, some people just reallllllly want to spend a day at Fisherman’s Wharf and it’s good to have some reasons to convince them to do something else (as anyone who lives here knows…).
2. Think about your schedule. Are your visitors coming for an entire weekend? Do you have anything you usually get done over the weekend like laundry, grocery shopping, or meal planning? We usually place a grocery order and meal prep for the week ahead. So, leading up the visit we try and make a little extra here and there to put in the freezer. That way, the week after the visit, when we’re extra exhausted we can just pull dinner out of the freezer and not have to think about it. Doing this makes things so much more enjoyable. Before we started this we would have a ton of fun with our visitors, but then the week after would be incredibly overwhelming. Now, we can get back into our normal routine a little easier.
3. Get your house ready. Living in a small city apartment we don’t have a guest bedroom and we only have one bathroom. So, I like to think about where we can keep our guests suitcases that is out of the way. Whether it’s in a spare closet or a corner of the living room it helps keep the clutter to a minimum which is key when you want to use your living room for relaxing after a long day, but it also has to function as the spare bedroom. Sometimes I even move furniture around a little. Also, make sure you have extra towels, washcloths and space for your guests to change/get ready in private. It’ll make everyone more comfortable.
4. Don’t stress! This is the last tip and it seems obvious, but sometimes hosting can be stressful which can impede on the fun time you want to have with your family or friends. If you put in a little effort ahead of time it will take away a lot of the pressure. And remember, even if you have an itinerary you don’t have to stick to it. It’s there so you don’t have to stress while racking your brain to figure out what to do on the spot. But, if everyone wants to do something else, go with it!
Here are some our go-to's for visitors: