“After five years of Home Base Holidays membership and some 20 home swaps, only two things have ever irritated me: the time we spent an hour following the instructions for the TV only to phone our exchangee and be told it was broken; and the time someone ate the prawn kebabs from the freezer. So if that's the worst that's ever happened this house swap thing is pretty stress free isn't it?
Now, the kebabs only annoyed me because we hadn't agreed to swap freezer contents, so the lesson is to be very specific about what's in the deal. We find that agreeing to provide each other with the basics makes a lot of sense: toilet rolls; tea, coffee and sugar; washing up liquid and detergent; an initial supply of milk; basic store cupboard ingredients such as salt, pepper, table sauces. Then you might like to swap a loaf and some butter, or jams and marmalades. We've even swapped entire first meals. Don't go buying things especially. Just agree that you can each use what's there. Even if something's within bounds, do replace it if you use it all up. The basic rule of thumb is: if you're not sure, don't use it. We have found over the years that we have changed our brands of several things; last summer we came home from a swap and upgraded the gravy granules!
When we went to Spain one April we were asked if the visitors could use our macs and umbrellas. April 2011. A heat-wave in London, a very late start to Spring in Spain! Sharing hairdryers too saves on packing.
And now you know why, if you swap with us, I am likely to ask, ‘Does your TV actually work?’” – Sandra N, London
Editor's note: We enjoy receiving Sandra’s contributions as, along with great tips based on her home swap experiences, she always sees the funny side of things. View her home swap offer in London.