Be diligent when looking through home listings. When you find home exchange listings that interest you, look closely at the pictures and carefully read the descriptions provided in the listing. Do some background research on the area. See if the home exchange partners have references available from past swaps.
Begin planning early and be flexible. Give yourself plenty of time to find the right home exchange partner and to schedule vacation dates that work for both parties.
There are various ways to arrange a home exchange. The following tips involve using the services of a reliable home exchange website, where you can list your home and find homes in your desired locale that offer the amenities you want.
Put together some helpful information for your house guests. Provide instructions on how to use your appliances. Explain how to go online. Share the location of circuit breakers, the main water valve, and other essentials. Leave directions to nearby stores and restaurants, as well as emergency contact numbers.
Leave plenty of space in closets and drawers. Most home exchange vacationers want to be able to put their things away, especially if they are staying for a while. Part of the appeal of vacationing in a private residence is feeling “at home” while there.
Create an informal written agreement that outlines the terms of your home exchange. Include the specifics of what will be included or expected at each location, such as use of a landline telephone, whether or not smoking is allowed, if a professional cleaning service will be employed at the end of the stay, or if there will be areas of a house that will be considered off limits during the visit.
Create a detailed listing to place on the home exchange website. Describe your home, yard, neighborhood, and community, as well as local transportation services and nearby tourist attractions. Make sure to make your home sound appealing, and list everything you will be offering with the use of your home, such as car, pool, Internet access, cable television, club privileges, cleaning services, etc.
Find a reputable home exchange website. Each website will provide background information and explain the process the site uses to help you connect with home exchange partners in the vacation locations of interest to you. Sites should take steps to ensure customer safety.
Stock up on a few items for your exchange partners to eat and drink. That way, they won’t have to rush out to the store. Very often, people are quite tired after traveling or arrive at an inconvenient hour.
Communicate with your potential house exchange partners. Get to know the people you will be dealing with in a home exchange. Chat via email. Talk over the phone. Make sure all questions are answered and both parties are comfortable with the other.
Treat your exchange partner’s home and belongings as you would your own. Be respectful and careful while staying in their home, using their belongings, and dealing with their neighbors. Make sure to leave things exactly as you found them. Some exchange partners even leave a small gift behind when they head back home.
Check into insurance coverage for both homes. Make sure valuables, personal belongings, and damage will be covered. If you also are swapping cars, make sure damage, medical expenses, and liability are covered.
Post plenty of photos with your listing. Include flattering photos of the inside and outside of your home. You may want to include scenic photos of the area around your home as well.
Store your valuables and financial documentsin a secure location before you leave. Some people keep a room locked in their home where they can put any items they don’t want to be accessible to their home exchange partner. If you decide to do so, explain your plans in advance.
Mention pets up front. If you are a pet owner, make sure to mention the fact in your listing. Some visitors may enjoy taking care of your pet, but others will prefer you board your pet while you are away. Of course, people with allergies may not be able to stay in a home with pets.
Make sure your home is clean and presentable. You will want to get rid of any clutter, clean your refrigerator and oven, change bed linens, provide clean towels, etc. Prepare your home as you would like your home exchange partner to prepare the home where you will be staying.
Home exchange has become a popular approach to vacationing. Most home exchanges take place simultaneously, with people staying in each other’s homes during the same period of time. This unique type of vacation eliminates the cost of lodging and gives you full reign of a personal residence, and perhaps even a car. Who knows… you also may have free use of a pool, fitness room, and/or a cleaning services as well.
No money changes hands between home exchange partners. However, if you use a home exchange service to help you make your arrangements, you will be responsible for a subscription fee. Most of these fees are small in comparison to the cost of traditional vacation accommodations. And, making arrangements on your own could lead to some safety concerns.
There are several reputable home exchange websites. Of course, it is very important to do plenty of research to assure the reliability of a site before paying a subscription fee and beginning the vacation planning process. When choosing a service, it can be helpful to read online reviews. Seasoned Times does not provide recommendations for any home exchange websites.
Obviously, home exchange vacations are not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of complete strangers staying in your home while you are away, you are certainly not alone. Many people are hesitant about the concept. It can be reassuring to keep in mind that at the very same time you are enjoying someone else’s abode, they will be occupying your home as well. Most trustworthy home exchange partners will treat each other's homes with the same respect and care they expect from visitors in their own homes.