Never have travelers had as many short-term lodging options as they do now. Gone are the days when hotels/motels, bed & breakfasts and hostels were the only options in the marketplace. Now, thanks to websites such as Airbnb, travelers have the ability to rent short-term lodging from ordinary people all over the world who will rent their homes—or a room in it—at an affordable cost.

This past weekend, while celebrating one of my very best friend’s birthdays down in New Orleans, I stayed in an Airbnb. It served as the perfect home base for the four of us when we weren’t down on Bourbon Street partaking in the foolery. And the best thing about this place was that it gave us the opportunity to experience the Bywater neighborhood, a part of the city that I hadn’t seen during any of my previous trips to New Orleans—as it typically doesn’t see many tourists.

The home was clean, modern and comfortable, and I think it could have been the model for what an Airbnb should provide guests. It honestly set the mood for our trip and we were thrilled to have made that choice. I would highly recommend this lodging option to anyone looking for an affordable way to travel, a place where a group of people can stay together or for the traveler who wants to stray off the beaten path.

Although there are several things we should expect from an Airbnb host (safety and security, clean towels and sheets and a space that’s been thoroughly maintained), what many Airbnb guests forget is that there are things expected of them, too.

A good Airbnb guest will do research before contacting a host. This research includes reading the host review to know what to expect of the host, the house/room, the neighborhood and maybe even the town. Many of your questions will probably be summed up in the information the host has already provided. You’ll also find any special requests the host might have for you as a guest. And be sure to take the time to review the calendar provided before inquiring about a specific date. I also suggest reading a few of the negative reviews in the beginning to help determine if you actually want to stay in this place before you even contact the host.

A good Airbnb guest has a likable, trustworthy-looking Airbnb profile with accurate information, including a real photo. You want to create a good first impression from the moment the hosts are virtually introduced to you. Remember you want them to want you to stay in their homes. And then, while booking, introduce yourself and state who’ll be staying with you (saying “a friend and her husband” is sufficient) and maybe add why you are in town.

A good Airbnb guest doesn’t ask to pay in cash. Although the booking fee for Airbnb might seem hefty, it’s put in place to protect both parties in case anything goes wrong. This fee is put in place for a reason and wanting to go around it seems incredibly sketchy.

A good Airbnb guest communicates efficiently with a host. You’ll want to respond to all emails in a timely manner, make a quick decision once you’ve initiated contact (especially if you’ve asked the host to set aside dates for you), give accurate information on when you plan to arrive (and keep the host aware of any changes) and let the host know of any issues that arise during your stay. Do not use your review to make your host aware of any complaints you had during your stay.

A good Airbnb guest swaps schedules with the host if they’re room-sharing so that both parties know when to expect one another and prevent everyone from be startled, uncomfortable or even worried.

A good Airbnb guest realizes the accommodation is someone’s home and respects it. You should try to leave everything the way you found it, or at the very least, tidy. Clean up after yourself—it’s that simple. Collect all dirty dishes and put them near the sink, gather dirty towels and linens and place them near the laundry room, place all trash in or near the trashcan and clean up after every mess you make. Treat the accommodation like the home of your best friend—feel at home and honor it at the same time.

A good Airbnb guest knows the accommodation is not a hotel. You shouldn’t expect perfection from the house and you definitely shouldn’t expect your host to act as the manager of a five-star hotel. Think of the host as more of a temporary landlord.

A good Airbnb guest is considerate when inviting additional guests to stay in the home/room. Remember that often hosts charge fees per guest and you wouldn’t want to take advantage of someone opening up a home to you.

A good Airbnb guest would never ever throw a party in the Airbnb without first discussing it with the host.

A good Airbnb guest leaves at the agreed upon time. Most often, hosts are planning to return home, have hired a cleaning service (that they pay by the hour) to come or have other guests planning to stay. Selfishly leaving on your own time can affect lots of other people.

A good Airbnb guest knows there’s no need to tip a host because the host isn’t technically providing a service (you’re paying to stay in the home as a guest and be treated as an equal). However, for hosts who have gone above and beyond, a small gesture such as a handwritten note or a very small gift is acceptable.

A good Airbnb guest leaves honest reviews and helpful pictures on the Airbnb website in a timely manner that would benefit the next person interested in the home.

Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.