Posted in Traveling Tuesdays
This was the greeting we received from the 10-year old daughter of our hosts on our most recent home-exchange vacation to Montreal. Doug and I have exchanged our house for an apartment in San Francisco with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, for a custom-built two-bedroom home in Monterey only minutes from the Monterey Jazz Festival, and for several wonderful apartments in New York City, just to name just a few. In all, we’ve enjoyed swapping with over a dozen people, some more than once.
I understand people’s fears about swapping homes, I was a little nervous before our first swap too. I’m not going to try and sell home-swapping to the skeptical, but I would like to share how I got over those fears, saved thousands and thousands of dollars on lodging over the years, and made a few nice acquaintances along the way.
There was recently a high-profile story about a woman in San Francisco whose apartment was ransacked when she rented it out through Airbnb while she was on vacation. Fortunately, this experience resulted in Airbnb’s new $50,000 guarantee against such a circumstance, but it was still the kind of story that feeds into many people’s fears.
The reality is that most folks are not going to fly clear across the country to vandalize your home or steal your big screen TV. Sure, I suppose it is a possibility, but so is the possibility that someone will break into your home while it sits empty as you are vacationing at a resort in Hawaii. But that possibility doesn’t prevent millions of folks from taking off on vacation every day.
Unlike a vacation rental, on a home-exchange, you are actually in your guests' home while they are in yours. That fact is very powerful for both parties in involved. I am much more careful in my swap partner’s home than I am in a hotel or in a rental because I actually have a relationship with this person now. And in my dozens of trades so far, I can see that my exchangers are behaving exactly the same way.
The more realistic possibility is that everything in your home is not left exactly as you had hoped, maybe a wine glass was broken, or ring is left on your coffee table, or more likely, you and your swapper's standards of cleanliness are different. So far, I’ve found people to be extremely gracious with things like that, but even if they weren’t, the cost of replacing that wine glass is far less than the six nights' hotel stay in Manhattan that you would have had to absorb if you didn’t swap.
Just a little perspective.
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