8 Tips for Hosting Guests

One of my highlights of being an expat is showing friends and family from home around the city and country we now call home. We have created such special memories of drinking champagne at the top of Table Mountain or walking through the bush soaking wet to turn a corner and a heard of zebra drinking from a watering hole. Simply Incredible! Thank you to all our wonderful friends and family that have come to see us.  

It is not always easy though. People on holiday behave differently to those who are living their daily lives.  As a result, as fun as it is, it can also be disruptive, expensive and tiring.

Here are a few tips on how to make the best out of the time you have together…. 

Not all of us holiday in the same way

It sounds obvious, but of course we are all different and so want different things from a holiday. Therefore it’s good to know before your guests arrive what sort of things they like to do on holiday. Do they just want to come and relax, reading a book outside, or do they want to get out and about to learn about history, or culture of your town? Alternatively if they are family - have they simply come to spend time with their grandchildren and so aren’t really interested in anything other than hanging out as a family?

Tip 1:

Put some thought into the type of holiday your guests would enjoy.

Tip 2:

Send email beforehand with list of day trips / restaurants / markets / blogs - or trip advisor. Maybe even put together a few standard itineraries they could use. 

Feeling Safe 

Although its home for you, your guests haven’t been before, so may be a little anxious (especially if you live in a place that doesn’t come with positive reputation). Often your guests maybe a little scared to drive by themselves, or go outside due to feeling unsafe. Or the other extreme they aren’t aware of the dangers. 

Tip 3:

Remember how you felt when you first moved to your new city, what tips did you find helpful, or reassuring?    Always have a map to hand and offer people to drive them around the area a few times.

Guests / Family 

Start as you mean to go on. Decide if friends / family are staying as guests, and therefore you are happy to make them tea, cook for them etc since its their holiday, or as part of the family, in which case, ask them to help peal potatoes, bath the kids. 

Tip 4:

Draw up a list of odd jobs that are easy for other people to do, so when they ask - “is there anything I can do” you can simply respond “ yes please it would be really helpful if you could just cut up the carrots in the fridge”. 


Tip 5:

As soon as your guests arrive, give them a little welcome tour - point out where the coffee machine is and how it works, etc. 

Tip 6:

Take time before your guests come to think through your potential trigger points, what are some of the things that may stress you out, and then plan some strategies on how if / when they happen you can stay calm and relaxed. 

Keep cooking simple 

It is always nice to cook a nice meal on a weekend, but don’t feel you need to go all out each and every night. Or even better get pre prepared food in (if in Joburg - The Market Place or The Midlands Gourmet, or The Pantry Box). I always struggle to provide lunches, now I just get some salad stuff and rolls in the fridge and ask people to help themselves! 

Tip 7:

Plan out simple menu, get pre-packaged food and leave food in the fridge for breakfast and lunches.  

Prepare for the hole when they leave 

I have found its always easier to say goodbye when we are the ones leaving to return home (i.e. from UK back to SA) I hate the emptiness of the house once guests have left us here in Joburg.  Your Expat Child has some great advice on this.  

Tip 8:

Plan in fun things to do the day after your guest have left with your friends, so you don’t feel so lonely. 

Specific Jozi tips........


In South Africa the car is insured rather than the driver therefore your guests will probably be insured to drive your car (Please do check with your insurance). Put in a bit of paper in the glove box with your policy numbers, what to do in emergency, and road side assistance. Also make sure you have a MAP in the car - GPS isn’t always that reliable, and can be hard to master in Jo’burg with all the different districts, and hundreds of 4th Streets and 4th Avenues! 


At the airport there is opportunity to pick up a pay as you go sim card - this is the easiest place to do it! Alternatively we have an old phone and sim card that we give to our guests so we can always contact them. 

Guest Room 

I like to put flowers, couple of bottles of water, Jozi tour book, or gateway magazine, and torches by their bed. Then in their bathroom I put in shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. 

I also usually buy them a little beaded key ring to remember their trip, and supports the guy who is in Parkview that makes them. 

What are your experiences of having guests to stay? 

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