As travel costs rise, beware the vacation "moocher"


Posted at May 14 2008 02:48 PM | Updated as of May 14 2008 10:48 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Beware those annoying guests who overstay their welcome or use you as a hotel: a survey has found that rising travel costs will mean more "travel moochers" -- friends or relatives after a free bed.

A survey by travel Web site IgoUgo found that 57 percent of 1,376 respondents would consider staying with friends or relatives to save money on a vacation, with 55 percent only going on holiday to a place where they have free accommodation.

But the poll found there was a difference between guests who place time spent with family or friends as a priority for visiting, and "moochers" who are motivated primarily by saving money when they landed on a friend's doorstep.

Of the people who would travel somewhere because of friends or family, 75 percent reported enjoying time with their hosts as a key reason for the trip while 25 percent were "moochers".

"There's something to be said for staying with a local on your vacation - not only will you save money, but you'll likely get the inside scoop on the coolest things to do and see," spokesman Cameron Siewert told Reuters.

"But your host should feel that you value spending time with them - not that you're simply taking advantage of a free place to crash."

The online poll, conducted between April 22 and April 28, found the majority of respondents felt comfortable staying with family and close friends.

Only 15 percent said they have or would consider staying with people they don't know or met on the Internet, ruling out "couch surfing" -- taking up offers from locals for a free bed or couch.

On average people said they would stay between two and five nights with family or friends, with 86 percent taking their hosts out to dinner to show their appreciation for free accommodation.

Moochers -- a termed coined by IgoUgo -- were less likely to offer their hosts dinner -- only 78 percent doing this -- and were less likely to contact with them apart from the vacation.

"Moochers" expect fewer hospitalities when staying with friends like linens, groceries, and lifts from the airport -- but they were also found to offer fewer hospitalities when people stayed with them. Eight percent won't even let guests stay.

Poll respondents had a list of horror "moocher" stories.

One told the story of a pen pal who arrived from Denmark with her cousins, smoked throughout her house despite her request not to, let her children clamber over her antiques, and woke up their hosts at 6 a.m. wanting breakfast.

Another said: "I did not realize that letting my brother's girlfriend stay in my apartment for a few days before she flew to Europe meant that she was allowed to control my access to my own room, and that my furniture had to be moved out of the way so she could use the room as a yoga studio."

Siewert said visitors needed to be good guests. "The trick is to be a welcomed guest and not an inconsiderate mooch - after all, the ultimate goal is to get invited back!" he said.