This guest post is from Yvonne Dukes. She and her husband have done 8 home exchanges!
I have done 8 home exchanges over the years. The best were in Spain, Paris and Geneva, only because we love Europe so much. However, all the other exchanges have been nice as well.
- Flexibility is the key!
- We do non-simultaneous exchanges as well as simultaneous ones, meaning sometimes we swap in tandem and other times a fellow home exchanger uses your home when we are somewhere else but not at their home and visa verse.
- When we come to Europe, we always come for at least a full month. Sometimes the exchanging family only come to our home for a week, but they are happy to let us use their vacation home in Europe for a month in the off season. Now we have moved to France for at least a year, having enjoyed our visits so much.
- We really like to travel in the fall and spring when things are less hectic and hot, but sometimes we have to exchange while the exchanger’s children are out of school.
- Sometimes you will go as the guest of the owner and they will come to your house as guest or while you are traveling elsewhere. In other words, we have stayed at their home while they are there.
- Don’t worry about getting a home that is the same quality or size as your home. We have a small home in the mountains but it is often the “mountain style and location” that folks are looking for and they are happy to trade their larger or nicer home for ours.
- We often allow people to bring their dog and we take ours to their house. That is a big plus for some people. Obviously we screen for certain breeds and types, largely because of our insurance. We have a dog door and a big enclosed yard. You can tell by the photos of their home whether their dogs are destructive or not. We made one trip in our small motor home with our 2 standard poodles and wanted to meet my sister in New Mexico. We found a great spot with room for the dogs and a gracious host. We had been traveling for 4 weeks and it was wonderful to have some space and a real bathtub! The dogs were thrilled to have a yard to run loose in. We never leave the dogs alone in someone else’s home though.
- Sometimes people ask us, “What if you arrive and there is no house?” Our answer, “They will be arriving at your house also. Call the police in your town and stop them.” We have never had a problem! People have to pay to belong to the home exchange site. That fee often works as a filter. We don’t do exchanges through Craigslist or any free sites.
- Get to know your exchangers first. We spend a fair amount of time on e-mail, corresponding with our exchangers, then we often have a phone call or 2 or 3. We exchange photos of each other, our pets, etc.
- BIG ADVICE: When you join a home exchange company, put good photos of your home and you on your home exchange listing. Put photos of the surrounding area and activities. List whether you allow pets or children. List places you may want to go but note that you are open to anywhere. Skimpy information is a real turn-off, especially when one looks at so many ads on the website.
- Do a “standard e-mail” to save time when you are looking for an exchange to do. Homeexchange.com lets you select a number of homes to add to your favorites list. Then you can go in and check off the ones you want to e-mail and do the e-mail once. I keep a file copy on my computer of our e-mails so I can modify them and re-use them as needed. It is work, simplify it as much as possible.