A popular promise on house swap entries is: "We'll look after your home as if it were our own." What does that actually mean? I'd suggest that you look after everything in your house swap home as you would your own when things are new. However shabby the carpets may look, treat them as you did your own when they were newly laid. When relaxing on the sofa, imagine that it's just been delivered. And remember how careful you were when you'd just finished decorating? It's really not difficult I promise you and doesn't detract from your enjoyment at all.
But what to do if something goes wrong? Well, don't get too upset. Accidents do happen. If you break a glass or a cup try to replace it and if you can't, leave an appropriate sum. I never use what obviously looks like "the best stuff".
Whatever happens you must "fess up". I came home once to find an ornamental perfume bottle had been broken. It was very cheap but what upset me was that no little sorry note had been left. If you break something that's difficult to replace, or part of the fixtures and fittings, you need to talk this over this with your fellow exchangees. Their contents insurance may cover it but you may need to discuss recompense (This is why many people like the reassurance of an exchange agreement).
There is no need to pay for something which would have occurred had the householders been at home (as had been suggested in another blog article). If pipes burst, the boiler breaks down or the vacuum cleaner stops working, this would have happened anyway. Don't forget to leave the contact details of your plumber, electrician, etc.
And if you've never swapped before? We've always come home to a clean and welcoming house, happy to have been away and happy to be back.
The article above is by long term Home Base Holidays member and experienced home swapper, Sandra Newnham (view her home swap offer in London; the photo of Sandra was taken on a home exchange in Switzerland last year).