Have you ever had a house guest you wished would go home yesterday? Whether it’s family or a favor for a friend, a house guest is someone privy to another person's personal space. So as a guest, every courtesy of discretion and respect for the host's privacy should be considered necessary.
Instead of characterizing the perfect guest, I want to describe how NOT to be the dreaded guest. First, don't invite yourself. And when you are extended an invitation, know when to go home! A "few days" does not mean you stay a few weeks. If you say you are going home tomorrow, find yourself packing and go home tomorrow!
Recognize the dos and don’ts of the house without someone having to spell it out to you. For example, if you notice that meals are eaten in certain rooms such as the kitchen, dining, or family room, then you should do the same. If you don’t hear anyone blasting music or the television in their bedroom, resist the urge to boom your favorite tunes. If you notice the house goes calm at a certain time of day, respect the quietude (and see that your children settle down as well.)
As a guest, tread lightly in the kitchen. Unless you were given free rein to help yourself (and even then be sensible), don’t assume the refrigerator and cupboards were stocked for your pleasure only. Consider a trip to the store to pick up a dessert, fruit, or juice to share. Personally, I don’t think a house guest should ever show up empty handed – a small gift for the host or the hosts’ child is always a nice gesture.
Leave the bathroom cleaner than you found it. Don’t leave hair or toothpaste in the sink and wipe the toilet eat when done. Check the bath tub and shower to be certain you don’t leave anything that points unfavorably to your presence. Maid service or not, clean up after yourself.
Above all else, be a pleasant guest.