6 Tips for Vacationing through HomeExchange

March 28, 2023

6 Tips for Vacationing through HomeExchange

Have you ever thought of vacationing through HomeExchange, but weren't quite sure if it was a good idea? 

As frequent HomeExchange travelers, we can clue you into the best ways to navigate this exciting world! 

Below are 6 things you should know if you're thinking of doing a HomeExchange. (or a "little h" home exchange on one of the other home swap platforms out there)

 

Tip #1 - To be a guest, you have to be a host

This might seem obvious. But in the HomeExchange world, you cannot just be a guest. You must also offer your home on the platform as a host. So if you're uncomfortable allowing strangers to stay in your home, an exchange might not be for you. 

 

Tip #2 - It's not AirBNB

Most people who do HomeExchange have guests far less often than folks who own an AirBNB. Which means it's a lot like early-day AirBNBs (remember those days?) when you were more likely than not staying in someone's full-time home. There will probably be clothes in the closets, food in the pantry, personal photos on the walls, etc. So if you prefer a hotel environment, HomeExchange might feel too intimate. On the other hand, if you like the cozy feel of being in someone's home, it might be perfect! It also means that when you're hosting, you don't have to quite get your house up to an AirBNB level of perfection. 

 

Tip #2 - Be cautious with exchanges "for points" 

On HomeExchange you can either do an actual house trade or a trade for points. In the first case, your host stays at your place and you stay at theirs. This can happen simultaneously but doesn't have to. Alternatively, you can accept "points" from your guest in exchange for the time they stay at your house. Points function like money on the platform, and you can spend them on future stays. For example, if you want to stay in San Diego and your San Diego host doesn't want to come to the Bay Area, they might accept points in lieu of an actual home swap. However, many HomeExchange hosts aren't interested in points, so they can be hard to spend. There's nothing wrong with accepting points from a guest, just know that it's possible to end up with an excess of them. 

 

Tip #3 -  Plan ahead!

Always good advice when it comes to travel, but in particular in this case. Because a HomeExchange can only occur when the host is out of town, the dates have to line up perfectly. Start reaching out to potential hosts the moment you have your travel dates, even if it's months in advance. Many HomeExchange hosts are avid travelers, and if you get to them early enough, who knows? They might decide to take an unexpected trip to your town at the same time you'd like to visit theirs! Pro tip: If you like a place but the calendar doesn't show as "available" for your travel dates, message the host anyway. People often forget to update their calendar. 

 

Tip #4 - Be a super-guest

Again, it's like AirBNB in the very early days. You might be asked to feed the fish or water the plants for your host during your stay. Within reason, it's within HomeExchange etiquette to act like a pseudo housesitter while you're a guest. Extra bonus points for proactively offering to do so while you're communicating about booking the house! And remember when you're a host that it's ok to ask for little favors like this. As a guest, it's nice to communicate with the host every couple of days throughout your trip, just to let them know that all is well. Remember that every positive review that you get on the platform will help open doors to additional exchanges in the future. 

 

Tip #5 - Be a super-host

As mentioned in Tip #2, your house doesn't have to be hotel-perfect in order to do a HomeExchange. However, there are some basics you'll want to attend to. Make sure there's at least some free closet space for your guests and that there's no perishable food in the fridge that they'll have to contend with. Put away any personal items that you wouldn't want discovered. And of course, make sure that the house gets a good deep cleaning before you depart. We like to leave a note of welcome with our recommendations to nearby restaurants and attractions, and a small gift like wine or chocolate to make our guests feel at home. Do you have a tricky TV remote, once a week street sweeping, or a door that sticks unless you hit it just right? Providing this kind of info will also really help your guests to have a hassle free stay. 

Tip #6 - Check your insurance

Do you have the proper coverage to protect you against loss or damage during an exchange? For a deep dive into liability and insurance considerations for Home Exchangers, check out this informative article on Porch.com.  

We absolutely LOVE doing home swaps, and travel this way as often as we can. Not only does it save a ton of money on hotels, but it's the perfect way to get a true "locals-only" experience. We've met some amazing people and ended up in locations that wouldn't necessarily have been on our radar otherwise. Have fun and safe travels!


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