How do you go about arranging home exchanges? As with any vacation first you must decide where you want to go, when you want to go and for how long you wish to stay. If when arranging your exchange you can be at all flexible with your times and open to suggestions regarding destinations this will often open up many new exciting offers that you may not have originally thought of. However this is not always practical and so even if you have fixed dates and destinations in mind you should always be able to find something that matches your requirements. Once you have found some offers through the Guardian Home Exchange website that look of interest, you should contact the owners using the messaging tools and discuss the possibilities of an exchange to see if they are also interested. Once you have both agreed in principle to the swap you need to spend a bit of time discussing the dates and details so that you are both clear on what is being agreed. Never be afraid to ask your exchange partners any questions regarding the exchange as it is best have everything clear before you set off.
Some people may also agree to exchange cars, look after pets or water plants while on their exchange – this can be a great way to save even more money but make sure when agreeing to this you discuss all details with your exchange partners. It’s always recommended good if you can leave a welcome pack for your exchange guests that outline details about the house (appliances, wifi password, heating/aircon, watering plants, etc) but also useful information about the area and also contacts in case of emergencies.
Be sure to prepare your home for your guests and so make sure that everything is clean and that there are fresh towels and bedding for your guests. As mentioned, do leave a welcome pack that includes a list of emergency phone numbers, a map of the area, brochures of surrounding attractions and restaurants, directions for use of various appliances, where to put out the trash and any specific security measures for your home – anything you have to know in order for both owner and the guest to feel good.
Many people will ask a friend or a neighbour to welcome their guests and provide them with the set of keys – if you have this option then it can be very reassuring for both yourself and your exchange guests. If the people you are swapping with have exchanged before don’t be afraid to ask them for references from their previous exchange partners.
When setting up your account on the website be clear to state the conditions of your exchange e.g. no pets allowed, non-smokers only, home not suitable for children, etc.
The vast majority of those who choose to share their homes find it to be a very rewarding experience and find that they get out of it far more than just the cost savings. Part of the charm of exchanging houses are the little unexpected things that can make the experience all the more special. By swapping homes you get a chance to really discover the places you visit and live like a local.