If there is one phrase that is common amongst all island visitors, it’s, “Don’t worry about us, we’re easy!”
Just typing that makes me laugh.
Every time a houseguest breezily assures me how truly simple it will be for me to have them stay in my home, I have to pause and swallow back my instinct to quote the shrewd Harry of When Harry Met Sally fame when Sally asks him if she’s high or low maintenance. He informs her that she’s actually the worst kind – “You’re high-maintenance, but you think you’re low maintenance.”
Everyone wants to be an easy island visitor, and yet they’re often unaware of how their behavior makes them quite the opposite.
Having a guest house or extra rooms for friends and family to stay in is both a blessing and a curse. Mostly, you’re grateful to have a place where people you love can come visit and enjoy your amazing island destination without breaking their bank accounts.
But, on the other hand, there are times you may wish you would have selected a house without room for guests to stay. Not only is it a lot of work and added expense to have an entirely separate living space under your care, the open room(s) also means you may have an endless stream of visitors in and out of your life.
I have hesitated in writing this post for a long time, mostly because I always try to be a gracious and generous host (and I genuinely do love hosting people, for the most part). I don’t want to seem petty. But at the same time, there are some guests that just blow my mind with how inconsiderate they are and thus, they do not get invited back. It makes me wonder – are they aware of how awful they are behaving and simply don’t care or do they genuinely believe it’s ok to behave in these ways everywhere and would be surprised to find out it’s not?
Because I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to go with the latter. This one is for you, dear oblivious island houseguests. If you’re fortunate to have an island friend welcome you into their home, take note of the items below and you may just get invited back again.
Personal note: To all of my friends who are reading this who have been guests in my home, this is not about you. This is about all of the other houseguests I’ve had. I promise. You’re a delight.
Here are 12 Surprising Ways You May Be Being a High-Maintenance Island Guest:
1. You didn’t do any research before you came to the island and you rely on your host as your own personal island almanac.
Don’t get me wrong – I love sharing the island and facts about it with people. However, if you are someone who is endlessly curious or who has really specific needs regarding what they want to experience, please do at least some of your own research ahead of time. The internet is a magical place.
2. You want to spend every waking second with your host.
How about instead, you plan to go out and explore a bit on your own. You may be on vacation, but I am not. I have a constant stream of vacationers visiting me month after month and while I’d love to be able to drop everything and be on vacation too every time someone new is here, I simply cannot. I appreciate the fact that you want to spend time with me – I want to spend time with you too – but we don’t need to have three meals a day together. And that one tourist attraction we have here that you’re dying to see? Perhaps ask if I might appreciate getting some stuff done while you go check it out on your own. Considering I’ve seen it… like, a thousand times.
3. You expect your host to be your personal Uber.
For the most part, I’m happy to drive you around and play tour guide. But if you want to go check out something that’s not within walking distance of my house while I’m otherwise occupied, go ahead and ask for the number for a taxi or perhaps rent a car for a day or so. It’s not actually that expensive to rent a car here and considering the fact that you’re not having to pay for your accommodations, it shouldn’t be something that breaks your vaca budget.
4. You get shit-faced drunk in public.
Guess who has to be responsible for you and your safety? This girl. Guess who gets to be embarrassed in her small town on your behalf? This girl. You may never see these people (ie. your bartender, your waiter, the boat captain) again, but I will. As a community, we see a lot of obnoxious drunken fools. We take it in stride – it’s just a fact of living on a small drinking island with little else to do – but it is a bit embarrassing when you’re the one somehow attached to the belligerent intoxicated tourist that everyone is wishing would leave. I get it – it’s your vacation and you want to blow off some steam, but perhaps wait and do it once we’re back at the house. Take it down a few notches and stay in semi-possession of your motor skills in public please.
4. You want to constantly cook at home and eat in to “save money” and “keep it simple.”
Grocery shopping isn’t easy here (some even call it scavenger hunting) and doing it as a team is not something I find fun (trust me – neither will you). Groceries are also expensive (Surprise! That’s why the restaurants are pricey too #ItsAllConnected) and thus, I don’t tend to buy a ton of food to have just laying around for us to throw together (nothing makes you feel more like you’re failing at adulting than throwing away a $12 head of rotting lettuce that you never got around to using). So if you want to eat in, that means I will have to go drive around to the 4+ markets to get the ingredients, cook (an enterprise I rarely embark on in general), and clean-up afterwards – for likely more than it would have cost us in a restaurant where they could have done all that for us. If you’re only here for a few nights (and see #6 below – you should not be here more than 4 nights), budget in eating out.
5. You constantly complain about how expensive everything is around here.
Yes, I know. Believe me, I know. It is an expensive place to vacation and an even more expensive place to live. Here’s the good news – you’re staying with me for free, saving yourself thousands of dollars on accommodations. Yay for you! So how about we move on from all this whining and you budget for your vacation accordingly? Capische?
6. You stay longer than 4 nights.
That’s my limit. It’s a small island. I have a relatively small house. After that many days of constant interaction, we will have not only run out of things to talk about, but also things to do. If you’re traveling from far away and want to stay longer, perhaps book a stay at one of the neighboring islands and explore there before or after your stay with me. Just because you have two weeks of vacation doesn’t mean you should plan on spending that full time in my house.
7. You are a picky food snob.
The things we get in here are limited; everything is shipped in. Asking me if the eggs I just cooked you for breakfast are organic and acting shocked or even a little hesitant to eat them when I say they aren’t is super rude. And it makes me feel shitty that you think your body is too good for the eggs I eat everyday. Ditto to having super specific needs in restaurants. We only have about 5 restaurants on this island – total – so as much as I’d love to give you tons of choices to please your picky palate, I don’t have ’em. Just go with the flow please, this is not your last meal. Just enjoy the scenery if you can’t find a way to enjoy what’s on the menu.
8. You need a lot of things that you could have easily brought from home.
Though some of the basics may seem inconsequential to you, they can actually be extremely difficult to get here. Stuff you wouldn’t think about like deodorant or makeup is something I stock up on because I cannot easily replace it. I get it, shit happens, you forget things, I’m happy to help out. But when you carelessly decide not to pack the things you know you will need and expect me to provide them, it’s suckfest. It may sound selfish and silly but things like needing to use a week’s worth of my tampons – the ones that they do not sell in this country that I have to buy in bulk on infrequent visits to the states – is a bummer in my world. We hoard here. Please bring your own stock.
9. You do not ask if your travel plans are logistically possible before you book them.
Booking a 6am flight on another island entirely, then telling me about it the day before isn’t just unreasonable, it may actually be impossible for me to make happen for you. There aren’t trains/buses that run non-stop here. It’s like a small, provincial town where things don’t open on Sundays and almost every business closes by 5pm. Ferries and small island planes don’t operate at your beck and call. Let’s not add unnecessary stress to your visit – check with me before you book anything non-refundable.
10. You chat up random people on island (ie. the crazies on the corner) and insist on telling your island host how things really are on island.
You don’t know shit. You have been here for one day and just spoke with our town lunatic. That is all. Now please shut up about the island conspiracy you know nothing about.
11. You use water and power like you do in the Land of Plenty.
It took every last drop of restraint I had when I walked some guests down to their room to find out they had left the air-conditioning running for THE ENTIRE DAY that we had all been out boating. Trying not to lose my shit, I remarked, hoping they’d sense their error, “Oh my god, the a/c has been on all day!” Their response: “Doesn’t it feel amazing? We wanted it to be cool when we got back. It’s so hot here.”
Our water and power bills are already embarrassingly high (what some people pay in rent) and that is with modest use for just two people normally. Add in a few nights of visitors in the guest house with modest use (i.e. NOT leaving the a/c running all the live long day) and it easily tacks on another couple of hundred bucks to our bills for the month. So if I mention when you arrive to please be mindful of your usage because it’s bonkers expensive here, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about staying, I’m just asking for you to not behave like a Kardashian. You know who would enjoy the luxury of coming home to a cool, air-conditioned house? This girl. But guess who can’t afford it – THIS GIRL.
12. You forgetfully leave stuff behind that you need back “urgently.”
Do us both a favor and double check you have all of your things when you leave the room. Calling me frantically when you’re departing the rock asking me to rush down to the guest house, tear the room apart looking for your lost item, and then ask me to mail it back to you ASAP is kind of a nightmare. A post office in the US is a place to be avoided. An island post office – if there even is one on the rock you’ve chosen – is another beast entirely. An urgent package shipped via other options like FedEx will be hundreds of dollars, if available at all.
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To my fellow island hosts – is there anything else you’d add to the list?