What are the steps to take to arrange home exchanges? Once you have selected destinations and places that you want to visit, and you have found some interesting offers, contact the owners of the homes. Most home exchanges take place at the same time but sometimes, especially if swapping second homes, the swaps can be at different times. Once you have found suitable exchange partners who want to take up your offer and you have found dates that suit you both, go through the practical details that will be useful for your guests, e.g. share information on appliances, paying utility bills, insurance to cover guests to drive your car, whether you will look after each other’s pets, how many people will live in your home temporarily, details of neighbours or friends who will be available to help with any questions, how you will exchange keys, how the heating system works, if you have public transport in the region, if you a garden, a balcony, internet connection, a computer, etc.
Home Base Holidays offers a wide variety of home swap choices – from modern city apartments, rustic countryside cottages, ski villas in the mountains to seaside retreats.
Once you agree to go ahead with an exchange, draw up a simple contract, detailing conditions you have agreed. When your holiday dates are getting near, prepare your home for your guests: clean your home thoroughly, leave a list of emergency phone numbers, a map of the area, brochures of nearby attractions, menus from your favourite restaurants, directions for use of appliances, instructions on care of plants / animals if you have any, security measures for your home, etc.
Most people who do home exchanges ask a friend or a neighbour to welcome their guests and hand over keys and to also check from time to time if everything is okay and that the arrangements between the parties are respected. It is also reassuring to both parties if they have shared references before agreeing to exchange (previous exchange partners make ideal referees).
Members are free to restrict their offers: e.g. no children or pets allowed, non-smokers only, couples only. Also, you are advised to leave your home with “complete instructions” for the new temporary inhabitants: a list of stores, pharmacies, places to visit in the area, some of your friends’ phone numbers in case of emergencies, where the nearest hospital is located, where and what day to take out the garbage and anything else that will ensure your exchange guests will enjoy a trouble-free stay in your home.
There can of course be small problems (after all you will be staying in a lived in home, not a five star hotel) – perhaps some of the decoration is dated or carpets worn, or the location is noisier than you thought it would be – but the vast majority of those who chose to share their homes this way are very satisfied and often repeat the experience, some many times. That’s the charm of exchanging houses, the little unexpected things that can occur over time, even the least pleasant ones. You live the life of another person. You sleep in another person’s bed, you listen to their CDs, and you meet their neighbours. It’s a completely different life from yours, and the unexpected can often be the most interesting aspect of your holiday!
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