Leave No Trace: A Good Rule for Hikers and Houseguests

“Leave no trace.”

If you’ve spent any time hiking (or in the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts), you know this cardinal rule of wilderness time.

You want to leave no trace of your campfires, your campsites, your camp trash. You pack trash out. You leave nature better than you found it.

This is an excellent rule for time in nature, but it’s equally valuable for the rest of us when we inevitably do time as houseguests. It’s hard work to prepare a home for a guest, so it’s good to be Boy Scout-level considerate when you go into someone’s home, whether you’re staying a night or a month.

A few ideas for what “leave no trace” looks like in a house visit:

  • If you’re sleeping there, make the bed! Do this before you leave, but try to do it nightly, too.
  • Clean up after yourself. If you can avoid leaving behind any trash, do that, but if you must have trash, put it in disposal bins. This is basic.
  • Hang any used towels or wash cloths where they are easy to find.
  • Put dishes away in the dishwasher after giving them a quick rinse.

You can go above and beyond by offering to help your hosts with basic cleaning tasks or other projects during your stay, from house-cleaning to some tasks you might be especially good at (handyman skills, photography, etc).

When you leave someone’s home, you should (as the Boy Scouts do) leave it better than you found it. If you do, you’re much more likely to be welcomed back, and good hospitality karma will go with you.

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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