As well as being a cost saving and exciting alternative to a hotel room, home exchanges are one of the safest forms of travel due to the mutual trust that develops through lengthy correspondence before the exchange takes place. Homes that are lived in by exchange guests are much less likely to be burgled than if left empty while away.
1. Join a reputable, established home exchange service
Select a reputable, established home exchange service that charges a membership fee like Home Base Holidays. You will be recommended to prepare a simple agreement covering everything discussed during the course of arranging your exchange, including paying for or replacing anything that is broken.
2. Lock up your valuables
You will be leaving your domestic equipment and most of your non-personal belongings available for use by your exchange guests (and you, in turn, will have use of their household items). However, if you have items of value or sentimental value that you would be concerned about, either leave them with a friend for safe keeping or lock them away in a safe place. If you have the space, you could even have a locked ‘out of bounds’ room to store anything you don’t want used. Leave instructions for your guests on securing your home before they go out for the day (locks on doors and windows, lights, setting a burglar alarm, etc).
3. Use cameras
Take photos of all expensive equipment such as cameras and computers as you may need this should you ever make an insurance claim. Also, protect your home with security cameras. Whether they actually work or not is besides the point - a house filled with security cameras is a risk that not many burglars are willing to take.
4. Mail delivery
Your exchange guests can be instructed on collecting and securing mail or, if you prefer, ask a neighbor to regularly collect your mail, or put a temporary hold on delivery if you have concerns about identity theft.
5. Pick the right time to go
According to data collected from US burglar alarm system companies in 2011, over 80% of home burglaries occur during the months of June, July, and August. Planning a vacation in the off season will not only reduce your risk of burglary but save you money on travelling expenses as well.
For peace of mind, take your time before agreeing to go ahead with a home exchange to ensure a good match and leave detailed instructions on security issues.
Guest post by Security Choice, ADT Authorized Company