Guest post by Home Base Holidays member and experienced home exchanger, Amy Davey:
Thinking about trying home exchange travel? Home exchange is different from conventional hotel or rental travel where you simply select your dates and location and book a stay. A good home exchange means meeting the needs of both exchanging parties, establishing good communication and trust, and welcoming your exchange partner as a friend and guest in your home.
Tips for attaining a home exchange:
- Be flexible
If you can only travel during the first week of August, your travel group is large, and you only want to visit one specific place, you are making it challenging to find an exchange. Kids in school? Perhaps the school would allow an “enrichment experience” and release them for travel. Not sure yet what your plans are for next year? Why not take the plunge and book an exchange…you can make your plans around it!
I have heard one exchanger say about the requests they receive: “I always try to find a way to say yes”.
- Be open
Maybe you’ve always wanted to visit Paris, or you dream to be in NYC on New Year’s Eve…and then you receive an exchange offer from Broughty Ferry, Scotland. Huh, where is that?! Well, it turned out to be a charming seaside village on the East coast of Scotland, and one of my favorite exchanges ever! Famous tourist destinations can be very difficult to secure an exchange with and may be best suited for booking a rental or hotel. Can you stay outside a big city? What about trying a place you never even dreamed of? Home exchange is all about the spirit of adventure…be adventurous!
- Be friendly!
Which home exchange request do you prefer: “Hi Amy, I would like to stay in your home on September 12-18. Can we exchange?” or “Hi Amy, I saw your beautiful home listing and would love to discover your area! My home is in a wonderful location that I think you would really enjoy. I notice your listing says you like music and art and there are a lot of options for you to explore in my area. Please take a look at my home and let me know if you are interested in discussing the possibility of an exchange!” Remember, home exchange is a very personal experience where you are trusting your home to another and they are doing the same for you. Read their listing carefully, be a good communicator, and get to know a bit about your exchange partner. You will find that you are more comfortable opening your home when you consider them a friend!
- Be tempting
Spend some time on your home exchange listing, describing your home and area and providing great photos. Include information on interesting attractions in your town or region, web links to tourist sites, suggestions for activities, the location of the nearest airport, and other helpful information to interest people in your area. Read through other home exchange listings for ideas on how to set up your own.
- Be realistic
Sometimes a “last-minute” exchange will work out for people, but most home exchanges involve planning and communication, and take some time to find and arrange. Start seeking a home exchange well in advance of when you hope to travel so you have plenty of time and flexibility to consider options and discuss your exchange partner’s needs. It is not a recipe for success to buy your plane tickets, join an exchange site, and then hope to arrange an exchange around your already established plans.
- Be proactive
It would be wonderful if you could post your home listing on one exchange site and watch the exchange offers start pouring in (you probably can if you live in NYC, London, Paris or other highly sought after areas!) but you should probably go a step further. Join more than one home exchange site and start sending requests. Home exchange is not as easy as booking a hotel or rental, it takes work, patience and time, but in the end can be a very rewarding way to travel!
Meet home swapper, Amy:
Amy's originally from Canada but now lives in her beautiful large country home at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the American West. Located 20 minutes from Lake Tahoe, Reno and the old west town of Virginia City with numerous summer and winter activities from hiking, skiing and golf to casino shows, restaurants and nightlife.