Posted in Traveling Tuesdays
As I mentioned last week we invited ourselves to Hawaii with a couple of friends this week. This is not our first tag-along vacation. I’ll be the first to admit, we are extremely lucky to have some very generous friends. But for those of you that draw the line at imposing on your friends, there is another way to score some free lodging: home exchange.
After all, your house is just going to sit empty while you are on vacation, why not go to another person’s empty house while they enjoy yours? If you are exploring this option, here’s my short list of tips for the first-time home exchanger.
1. There are many reputable sites on-line to find home exchanges. The one I like the most is homeexchange.com because they have the largest number of listings and you have to pay to join. Actually, you only have to pay if you want to create a page to market your own home. You can email anyone with a listing you like when you browse for the site for free, but I’ll just tell you I never respond to those inquiries. For one thing, I find some comfort in knowing that the site has your credit card and knows your identity. If you just email me and don’t even have a listing for me to peruse, I not only don’t think you are serious, I don’t even know if you are real.
2. When you do find a homeowner that you’d like to approach for a trade, write a personal note explaining why you found their home attractive, share your plans for your trip, and tell a little bit about yourself. This is a chance to highlight a few great things about your house and things to enjoy in your area as well. If you do wind up trading homes with this family, you are going to spend months building a relationship. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
3. When you are browsing listings on the website, keep in mind that the actual home will never look better than the photos your exchanger has posted on their exchange page. If you have any reservations after viewing the photos, you probably won’t be comfortable there.
4. I recommend practicing with a local trade, just to get your feet wet. Go away for the weekend somewhere that’s not too far away. If it’s not exactly what you bargained for, at least it’s only two days and you will come away with a better idea of what you are looking for next time.
5. During the course of building your home-exchange relationship, you should work out how you expect to leave each other’s homes. Just strip the beds or remake them too? Where does the trash go? No matter what they say about how to leave their house, just remember, no one will ever fault you if you leave it tidier than they expected.
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