My practical traveler’s thank you to hosts 2

As a guest in people’s homes, I typically try to contribute to the home in some way as a special thank you. Sometimes my host/hostess knows. Other times they have no idea unless they notice the difference later on.

These little thank-you projects are beyond the basics of bringing food or a gift for my hosts.

Oct 23, 2017: I interupt my own post to share another person’s post with you. The fabulous traveler/guest/hostess/writer Esther Snippe wrote this perfect advice: “Travel 101: How to be a great guest” and if you’re looking to stay with people, it’s the best advice!

How this started

When I was 21, staying between two friends’ apartments in NYC before I found my own, I came up with a way to thank my friends. I scrubbed their showers and changed light bulbs one friend couldn’t. This silly thank you became my M-O.

At the very least, I clean light switches, door handles, the tops of picture frames doors and doorways, and doors or cupboards where hands leave marks. Sometimes I clean a part of a freezer or refrigerator. I also deep clean kitchen sinks but never add a scratch.

About the cleaning:
I don’t clean because people’s homes are dirty. I do it just to make their lives a bit easier. After all, they made my life greater by inviting me into their homes to experience their towns, cities, countries.

My most recent thank you — regained internet

The DSL wasn’t working at V’s house. The repairman came out and fixed it from the outside. But then touching the phone cable indoors broke the connection. I replaced the wall jack and the phone line cable, restoring the service.


A recent thank you for letting me stay here project

Me as I stand by my successfully restrung blinds


I repaired 2″ wooden blinds on a large picture window and a smaller window. One required complete restringing so they could be raised and lowered. The smaller one other required replacing one of the drums that enabled the blinds to open and close. We purchased the string and drum from They also provide excellent how-to info.

To restring, I burned the new string to the old. As I had to do this many times, I had three burned fingertips for a while but they healed soon enough.

The drum required for the smaller blinds was no longer available so I purchased one that fit inside and then very carefully and slowly did some trick drilling to make it work. It was too tricky to catch a photo of.

A montage of me restringing wooden blinds

Restringing wooden blinds

My largest “hostess thank you project”

This project is quite a bit more than normal. I spent a lot of time in this apartment.

A bathtub's ugly mold infested caulking

The bathtub/shower before.

This shower/bathtub bugged me. The white caulking looked awful and ruined the lines of the great gray marble. I also disliked the darkness coming from within. It’s a rental unit and my hostess didn’t notice it, but I couldn’t resist brightening this up.

The mold! Worse than I though!

What lay beneath the white caulking.

I peeled the caulking off. The material beneath was worse than I’d imagined and the lines of the tub were much nicer without that ugly stuff. It was rewarding and exciting to see that caulking go!

I cleaned out what was under it and bleached it.

I’d also used a bleach and baking soda mix on all tiles.

The tub with the new silicon sealant.

The result of my work – a home nicer for me having been there.

After giving it time to dry, I carefully applied clear silicon.

As usual, I followed my High School ceramic teacher’s wise words: “An artist’s best tools are his hands.”

Actually, I put silicon everywhere the tile meets the tub. And it’s all perfectly smooth as well so dirt dust won’t accumulate.

Another “hostess thank you project”

At another home, I became aware that the hallway mirror was there to cover a hole left by the removal of an intercom.

This required a trip to the home repair center for sandpaper, some scrap sheet board (wallboard) and a box of power Joint Compound that you mix with water to create the plaster.

First, I sanded off the wallpaper and various bumps. Then I cut the plasterboard to best fit the hole. Next, I mixed some compound and packed it into the gaps. I was careful to put a lot of Compound in there to create a solid wall. The patching was done in several stages as the first patching needed to set before I fit more wallboard to fit the rest of the hole. (It would have been ideal to have a piece the full size…)

Sealing a hole in the wall to say thank you to my host

No more hole!

I don’t have a photo of the final result, but I sanded it to smooth, seamless perfection.

A more common “hostess thank you project”

Here’s another project: 1960s tiles on a kitchen counter. My hostess was about to try renting out her condo so there was grout to be patched. The best way to patch is to clean the old stuff first so the new grout will match. That’s where I came in. I returned this tile to fresh, clean white — without adding scratches that make them dirtier in the long-run.

Cleaning 1960s kitchen tiles

Cleaning 1960s kitchen tiles

Other thankyou projects I have done in various homes

  • At one home I washed all of the entry-way, kitchen and hallway walls.
  • At another, I cleaned the well-dirtied kitchen cabinet doors, removing about 20 years of yellowing grime from the kitchen floor. After scrubbing the shower walls, first.
  • I have also rewired electrical outlets or lamps.
  • I have rewired telephone wires outlets.
  • I have cleaned up computers.
  • I have written business materials.
  • I have driven my hosts to or from the airport several times.
  • I have taught my award-winning chocolate chip cookie recipe.
  • I have baked cakes.
  • I have cooked meals.
  • I have babysat.
  • I’ ve taken care of a rabbit.
  • I have put together furniture.
  • I have painted walls.
  • I have cleaned all the nooks inside of refrigerators.
  • I have hung shelving.
  • I have sanded furniture to smooth edges. Once was at a hostel, where the bunk’s metal frame as it was cutting guests. I used my metal nail file to smooth out the stray metal.
  • I have also gone into a local supermarket and bought or arranged a gift card to cover food — even when the market didn’t really have gift cards.

About the cleaning:
I don’t clean because people’s homes are dirty. I do it just to make their lives a bit easier. After all, they made my life greater by inviting me into their homes to experience their towns, cities, countries.

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