Have you ever considered doing a home swap and trading houses with a perfect stranger? If you’ve ever used Airbnb or VRBO, you’ll probably say yes, but this is just called a vacation rental.
A home swap is when you travel somewhere else to stay in someone’s house for a determined amount of time while they travel to your location and stay in your home while you’re gone. Think of it like a foreign exchange program for vacations. A house swap can make it more affordable to have a vacation with all of the amenities of a home already there.
The concept of a home swap, as seen in the 2006 movie The Holiday, is already picking up momentum. Google reports that searches for the term “home exchange” have increased by 180% in recent months.
If you’ve been planning to do a house exchange for your next vacation, there are some things you must know first. Keep reading below for 7 tips to prepare for a successful home swap.
1. Get to Know Your Potential Home Swap Guest First
The prospect of letting a total stranger stay in your home can be a scary concept for some. But as author and poet William Butler Yeats is most often attributed to saying, “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met yet.” So, take this to heart when you’re considering doing a home swap.
Interview any potential home swap guests ahead of time. You can do this over the phone or have a video chat on Zoom. Get to know this person and ask about their life.
You just might find you have more in common with them than you think. Go with the one you get the best gut feeling about or have the most connection with.
2. Stipulate How the House Will Be Prepared
When initiating the process of a home swap, it is best to set up your expectations first and not assume everything will be exactly the way you want it. This is especially true of encountering possible culture clashes with some home swap options.
Going from state to state within the U.S., you can probably expect that your host homeowner will have the place in order for you when you arrive. If you’re going to another country, however, they may have different customs when it comes to welcoming guests.
For example, in many Asian cultures, it is expected that guests take off their shoes before entering a home. You and your home exchange partner should list any house rules or expectations of available items ahead of time to prevent disappointment or upset.
3. Specify What Is and Isn’t Available for Use
“Mi casa es su casa” is a Spanish phrase often used to denote that “My house is your house.” But in the case of a home swap guest, you may not want everything to be readily available to your visitor. Take Grandma’s fine china for instance.
Other items may include expensive home gym equipment, heirloom items, or firearms. You can keep these items in a locked room that is off-limits within the house. Your home exchange guest may do the same on their end.
If you’re still really concerned about something happening to certain household items or personal possessions, have a friend or family member look after them. Or put them in a storage unit for safety and protection.
4. Establish a System for Entering and Exiting the House
If your home swap guest is flying in from abroad they may be getting in very late or early. You will need to communicate with them where a key or entry code or alarm system PIN will be found upon arrival. If there is a gate clicker or garage opener they will need, make sure they have access to these items as well.
Tell a neighbor, friend, or family member of your arrangement and have them hold onto these items to meet up with them or ensure there is a spare if anything happens. Inform your guest of any quirks with the house, such as if the back door jams or the lock sticks sometimes.
5. Create a List of Emergency Contacts
Loaning out your house in a home swap can be a nerve-wracking concept. There’s so much worrying about all of the what-ifs. That’s why it is also important to have your trusted friends, neighbors, or family members on standby.
If there are any issues with keys or codes, your house exchange visitor will have someone to talk to. If there aren’t any problems, you’ll still have peace of mind. This also allows you to enjoy your vacation.
6. Discuss How the House Should Be Left After the Vacation
Your vacation plans don’t always include house cleaning, that’s because in resorts and hotels, there is a service to do that for you. But in a house exchange, it’s different. It’s a perfectly reasonable response not to want to have to clean up your own house after a vacation.
A good houseguest will want to make a good impression on their host. So, let them know if there is anything you want them to do before they leave, like washing their towels. Your home swap guest may also expect the same of you.
If you do have a cleaning or maid service, let your house swap guest know what will be taken care of and what won’t.
7. Set Your Travel and Stay Dates
Even if you think everything is set in stone for your home swap, you should always write down and verify these dates and times before your trip. Doing so will help you ensure you have the right information and don’t get your wires crossed accidentally.
You should always use a reputable home swap site to help you keep track of these dates and communications between both parties in case anything goes wrong. If you’re not sure which house swap site to use, you can find more info on home exchange sites online.
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A home swap is an innovative new trend that can make your next vacation truly amazing. As long as you follow these helpful tips and tricks, you can make sure that it is a great experience for both parties. Start researching and discovering all of the great home exchange options available for yourself today.
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