When planning a home swap holiday, the initial messages between you and the other home swapper are very important as they give you the chance to ask / answer questions so that you get a good feel for the proposed swap before you make a firm commitment. Therefore, never feel silly about asking questions, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem - taking extra care in these early stages is by far the best way to minimise any possibility of misunderstandings later on.
|Home swap tip: if flights are involved, it can be a good idea for both members to book their tickets at the same time and then email each other the booking confirmation - this gives excellent reassurance that you are both fully commited to the exchange.|
So, back to the topic of 'awkward' questions. Anything that could (but shouldn't if raised with sensitivity) potentially be taken as a negative comment on an exchange partners' home or area comes under the 'awkward' category. It's best that any such questions are addressed as early as possible rather than after an exchange has been agreed and plans are at an advanced stage, or worse, not addressed at all and possibly causing last minute wobbles.
For example, you live very close to a busy road, pre-empt any likely concerns such as noise or pollution by addressing these in your listing (plus, of course, including photos so that potential exchange partners have a good idea of your home and location). You may be used to noise levels that visitors from quieter areas might find too disturbing. But, perhaps your home is triple glazed or bedrooms are away from the road, minimising the impact of noise. As with all aspects of describing your home and area - be honest!
Another cause of concern might be real or perceived levels of crime in an inner city area. Although living in a rural area is no guarantee that exchange guests won't ever be victims of crime, country dwellers may feel apprehensive before visiting a large city where they may be unfamiliar with the local neighbourhoods.
Even if you live in a rural idyll, the bull in a field next to your garden could seem very menacing indeed to a city dweller who might be afraid to use public footpaths near your home unless reassured this is safe. Or an area may be prone to natural disasters such as tornadoes or floods. There can be 'what if' questions wherever you live or exchange to.
If your potentially awkward questions have not been addressed in your exchange partners' listing, go ahead and ask about any concerns you have (in a courteous way of course). And, if you are on the receiving end of such questions? Don't take it personally but rather address concerns honestly and with practical suggestions. After all, you live in your area and, if there are any reasons for taking sensible precautions (whether against pickpockets, menacing bulls, tornadoes, noise, travelling by public transport, etc, etc), pass on the benefit of your experience.
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