Whether you are an experienced home exchanger, considering home exchange for the first time, or have never considered home swapping as a way to travel, we welcome your thoughts on issues raised in the following article:
'Over the past decade new technology has made it easier for anyone to participate in home exchanges. One thing that has not gotten easier: how to trust the people you are inviting into your home. Wireless home security systems allow you to observe and interact with your home in real time from across the world. While this is great for peace of mind, is this option ethical when you have guests staying in your home?
Let’s just start with an easy one to get warmed up. Hidden cameras can take the form of teddy bears, alarm clocks, or even fake plants. Residential hidden camera law, in the United States, was mostly developed for observing the behavior of child caregivers. These “nanny cam” laws state:
- Hidden cameras are only legal in your home if they are used for the sole purpose of protecting the well-being of the child (assuming there is a child involved).
- Location of camera cannot be in a place where one can reasonably expect privacy (i.e.- bathroom, bedroom).
Since home exchanges take place in many countries, you need to check your country's legal stance on residential hidden cameras.
It is safe to say that hidden cameras cannot be used to spy on your house guests. They are a gross violation of trust and human dignity when used on fellow swappers. In short, hidden cameras fail the ethical litmus test miserably. Home exchange is based on trust, and setting up a hidden camera is in direct violation of this trust. If you are actually considering this route, then maybe home exchanges aren’t for you. If you are adamant on moving forward with an exchange, but have some doubts, then consider home exchange tips from experienced swappers to ease your mind.
Home Security Considerations
Home security systems are a reasonable conundrum when thinking about the ethics of securing your home when you have guests. Many security systems can be controlled from any mobile device now. This means:
- You have the ability lock or unlock you doors from anywhere in the world.
- You can see streaming video directly on your mobile device or computer from anywhere in the world.
- You can be alerted on your phone anytime your doors are unlocked.
These capabilities enter into the grey zone. The ethical guidelines don’t stem from the technology itself, but rather how you use it. Will it be implemented to monitor the security of your home while you’re away, or to keep tabs on your guests? Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do to ensure that you are using your home security system ethically:
- DO - disclose all the capabilities of your system to your guests and how you will use them while away.
- DON’T - observe the cameras remotely unless you are alerted with a genuine security threat.
- DO - leave an owner’s manual for your guests and detailed instructions of how they can use the system to keep themselves and your home safe.
- DON’T - continue to receive alerts whenever doors are locked or unlocked to your home.
These guidelines can be tailored to the capabilities of your individual system. A good question to consider would be: Would I want to be observed in this way staying in my guest’s home? If not, find a different way to make you comfortable with the security situation.
Plan in Advance
Instead of spying and monitoring tactics to secure the safety of your home, you can take active steps in advance. Start building trust with your home exchange guests far in advance. It is a relatively unconventional way to travel and requires a little more work on your part. Since you are considering home exchange, you have established that you are willing to do more to participate in this unique opportunity. Here are several ways to start:
- Communicate early and often. Trust can’t be built on a couple of emails. A good home exchange website will have the framework in place to ensure that you find a good match. However, the responsibility is ultimately with you to get to know the people you will be exchanging with until it feels like inviting your good friends to stay in your home.
- Inform you neighbors. With all the security technology, sometimes the best resources you have are still the ones who live next to you. Give them all the information they need and encourage them to make your guests feel welcome.
- Be transparent in every step of the process. Be upfront and honest with your swappers. They will take notice and reciprocate. Give them every resource available to have a comfortable vacation.
Follow these common sense guidelines and turn your home exchange into one the best experiences in your life. Remember it’s not just you allowing guests into your home. They are opening their home to you as well. Lastly, relax: you’re on vacation!'
Author Bio: Zach writes about the ethical implications of home security. When he isn't wrestling with ethical dilemmas, he enjoys mountain biking and rock climbing.