How to be a Good Cottage Guest: 7 Rules to Follow

 In Blog, Heidi's Bug Blog

Cottage season is here! After a seemingly never-ending winter, our cottage is finally open and we’ve already enjoyed some beautiful and relaxing weekends outside of the city.

With the upcoming long weekend, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to invite some relatives up north for a couple of days. Now, I’ve hosted family and friends at our cottage many times before and love having the company, but I’ve also come to realize that some of my guests aren’t all too familiar with the dos and don’ts of cottage life!

After experiencing some poor guest etiquette on more than one occasion, I felt it was time to post some guest rules for any future visitors. Here are my top 7 rules:

#1 Cottage does not equal resort

A cottage weekend is not an all-inclusive vacation, so don’t expect your host to provide you with full-service amenities! Do ask the host things like, “Should I bring my own bed sheets?” In our case, I don’t have a washing machine at the cottage and I loathe lugging home piles of laundry and then lugging them back up the following weekend – the reality is that I don’t!  So, if you don’t ask, the bed sheets you sleep on are at your peril. (Hint: I have bed sheets as old as the cottage.)

#2 Share the cooking and cleaning duties

Unfortunately, you don’t have a private chef at your disposal, so get ready to participate in meal preparation and post-meal cleanup! Do ask the hosts, “What are you doing for meals? What can I bring?” The bossy “A” type personality is encouraged in this scenario. Perhaps offer to prepare one of the meals (i.e. bring everything to make a meal) or to take care of the snacks for the weekend.

#3 Don’t show up empty-handed

Even if the hosts say, “Everything is taken care of, just bring yourselves!” Don’t be a knob and believe that. Bring something! We’re simply being hospitable. Pack your favourite wine, an interesting appetizer, an exotic cheese and spread, or a fun board game. We like to think of it as common courtesy.

#4 Bring beer

This is for my husband: bring beer! If you’re a big weekend drinker don’t mooch on all of the host’s alcohol and not help replenish the supply. And most definitely don’t bring beer, hide the beer, mooch off of the host’s beer, then bring out the hidden beer toward the end and take home the leftover beer. That’s just “bearish” behavior. This rule is specifically dedicated to a relative who will remain unnamed but will definitely recognize his signature behavior.

#5 Follow the instructed bathroom protocol

After drinking all of this beer and now needing to relieve yourself, don’t just pee wherever you please. Do see where the host pees and follow suit. I used to have these lovely, robust raspberry bushes at the end of one side of our stone deck, but, over time, my raspberries became straggly and few. For a long while, I wondered why this was until I found out that my raspberry bush was located in the perfect spot for a late night pee after some serious partying. Happy raspberry picking!

#6 Respect your environment and those who inhabit it

Beyond your human hosts, this includes bugs, animals and so forth. They are all a part of cottage life! Our cottage is a natural sanctuary for insects and it’s true that it’s been a constant frontline battle of co-existence with them.

To deal with these different insects, my husband and I practice a strategy called “Integrated Pest Management”. It is a collection of methods used to effectively, economically, environmentally, and ecologically deal with pests and reduce them to a “tolerable” level.

Of course, we all have different tolerance levels of comfort when co-inhabiting with insects. I for example, on a scale of 1-10, have a tolerance level of 1 when it comes to any type of cockroach. Therefore, I use every Knock Down Insect Killer, device, and insect motel possible and regularly fumigate and insecticide spray the cottage when I see wood cockroaches.

Check out my previous blog for tips on managing insects, here.

But for most other arthropods I have a higher tolerance level of about 4-5. I still get rid of them, but if, let’s say, I see a spider and web discreetly on the corner of the ceiling, I’ll leave it alone. After all, they’re natural insect catchers for us.

I recommend discovering your tolerance level for insects and sparing those that you can stand co-existing with!

#7 Enjoy yourself!

It’s our most humble desire to make sure your cottage experience is memorable, relaxing, bug-free and fun. We’ll probably never let you know if you broke any of the above rules as that would be inhospitable, and we’ll most definitely give you bed sheets, clean-up after you, wash all the dishes, cook all the meals and make sure you’re enjoying yourself, but, do keep in mind that cottage owners have a tolerance level for guests too!

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