Planning your first home swap holiday can be a tad daunting – knowing how to prepare your home and what will be expected by your guests. Therefore, we’ve compiled answers to 10 common questions to help you through the steps of planning your first exchange.
1. How should I prepare my home for my guests?
Make sure your guests have enough clean sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, dishes, utensils, so that your guests will have a comfortable stay in your home.
Thoughtful exchange partners leave basic cleaning supplies, soap and detergent, along with basic foodstuffs such as coffee, tea, salt, pepper, herbs and spices, cooking oil, salad oil, and vinegar. Many also leave some food so their partners don’t have to run right out to the store when they arrive tired after a long trip: eggs, milk, cereal, bread, butter, jam, cheese, fruit, wine and beer, and more.
It’s also a good idea to put together a welcome folder for your home swap guests. You can use the welcome folder to list useful information about your home, local travel tips, and emergency contact information.
- Check out our Declutter your home before an exchange blog post.
2. Who is responsible for cleaning?
It’s very important to leave your home clean and welcoming for your guest’s arrival. Spend some time in the lead up to your travel dates decluttering your home and doing a thorough clean. It’s also good to clear some space in your wardrobe and drawers so that your guests have space to unpack. However, also remember that your guests will understand that they will be staying in a real lived in home and not a showroom.
The move-out cleaning is another matter. As a general rule, it’s good to aim to leave the home as clean if not cleaner than when you arrived. Prior to the swap, agree what to do with rubbish, recycling, as well as laundry (bedding, towels, etc). Some member agree for a cleaner to come in at the end of the swap – if this is the case, agree prior to the swap who will pay for the cleaner.
3. How long does it take to arrange a home swap?
Sometimes you can be lucky and arrange a last-minute home swap with the first people you contact (you’ll still need a couple of weeks to discuss and agree all details of the proposed swap). However, most home swaps take a while to arrange. You have to find people who want to come to your home and have a home you want to stay in. Then you have to work out the timing and the logistics. Many home swappers start the process several months or even a year ahead of time.
- Browse home exchange offers and start planning your holiday accommodation.
4. How will we get into one another’s homes?
There are various techniques to make sure your guests can get in: for example, you can leave the keys under doormats (not recommended!), mail keys by recorded post ahead of time, set up a lockbox, or leave keys with a friend / neighbour.
- Check out our Exchanging keys before a home swap holiday blog post.
5. Should I ask my home swap partner for a damage deposit?
Home swap partners usually take good care of one another’s homes and willingly reimburse one another if they spill wine on the carpet or break the teapot. Still, there’s always the chance of damage, so it’s a good idea to remove anything that is particularly valuable or not replaceable. If you and your partner feel more comfortable with a deposit, ask a neutral party or escrow service to hold the funds in case they’re needed.
6. Can I bring my pet?
If you prefer to travel with your beloved pet – it shouldn’t be hard to find a ‘pets welcome’ home swap. However, NEVER bring your pet without your exchange partner’s agreement.
|On the Home Base Holidays website you can narrow your search to show ‘pet friendly’ offers. Search pet friendly offers|
7. Will my guests look after my pets?
It can be expensive to have your pets cared for away from your home while you’re away. However, many home swappers will be more than happy to look after your pets during their stay.
Make sure to discuss and agree all details of the pet care required prior to confirming the swap. Explain what’s involved in caring for your pet and answer any questions. Leave detailed instructions, along with food, leashes, and whatever else your home swap partners might need, such as the phone number of your vet. One more thing: think carefully about how your pet is likely to react to strangers.
|On the Home Base Holidays website you can narrow your search to show only ‘pets welcome’ offers. Search pets welcome offers|
8. Can we also exchange cars during a swap?
You and your exchange partner can save the cost of car rental by swapping cars, and many people do. But before agreeing to a car exchange, check with your insurance agent. Confirm that your policy will cover you for both damage and liability when someone else is driving.
9. Who pays the utilities and other home expenses?
Most home swap partners continue to pay the basic expenses of running their own home while their guests are there. If you’re planning a longer-term swap (such as 3+ months), it may then be good to discuss and agree who pays for the utility bills during the long term exchange.
10. Is exchanging homes worth the time and trouble?
Absolutely YES! Not only do you get free holiday accommodation, you’ll enjoy the comforts of staying in a real home rather than a hotel (a big plus if you have kids). Best of all, you get to “live like a local” and meet interesting new people, some of whom might become lifelong friends.
Start swapping: sign up to Home Base Holidays
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