Looking to make your Exchange Partner more comfortable while staying at your home? One of the easiest ways is to build a Welcome Guide. Think of it as an instruction manual for your place and region.
Whether you are the one to greet your Exchange Partner or you have someone else assist, it can be overwhelming to be on the receiving end of a tour and be expected to remember everything. By getting the “How To’s” down on paper, it will make life for you (and your Exchange Partner) a lot easier. Here are a few things to consider including in your Welcome Guide:
1. A Warm (Personalized) Greeting
Taking a couple minutes to say how much you are looking forward to your exchange is a perfect way to get started. Once the exchange is confirmed and you know a little more about your Exchange Partner, you can even use this space as a place to give individualized recommendations. Are they an outdoor enthusiast? Share a few spots they can get outside. Have children? Offer directions to parks and family-friendly activities. Or include the names of some potential babysitters. Even if you don’t create a more robust guide, these notes will give insight to living like a local.
2. This remote does what?!
After a long day of exploring your area, your Exchange Partner might want to settle in and enjoy some television. Then they see your multiple remotes and have no clue what to do. By providing some written instructions (and perhaps storing those extra remotes), you can ease some of the stress. Keep it simple and explain: how to turn everything on and off, switching to the DVD/Blu-Ray, or using a streaming device. If there are any particular “quirks” that you typically work around, this is the place to share that info.
3. Make yourself comfortable
Depending on the appliances you have around your home, it can be helpful to give a brief overview of how to operate them. Dishwashers can have different settings while washer and dryers could be confusing. Providing a few steps can help transform something daunting into a comfortable routine.
4. Which way to…
When visiting your area, your Exchange Partner might get overwhelmed with options. By writing down directions to grocery stores, days for farmers’ markets, a list of your favorite restaurants and more, they will be moving around like a local in no time. It is also a nice touch to add a few menus for your favorite take-out spots, for those nights when they want to stay in and relax instead of cooking for themselves.
5. Tidying up
Before confirming your exchange, it is helpful to outline the expectations for how to leave your home. By detailing the quirks of your home can be useful. Worried about water on the wood floor? Have special cleaners for the countertops? Offering an outline can help to make everyone feel more comfortable at the end of the day.
6. A helping hand
When you’re on an exchange, the last thing you want to worry about is something happening at home. Help minimize the worry by leaving a list of names and numbers to call should the need arise. These could include a local friend who knows your home, plumber, emergency services like police, firefighters or paramedics, the hospital. If you are leaving your pet, make sure to include contact information on their vet, should the need arise. It might seem like going overboard, but the best way to ensure there isn’t a problem is to be prepared.
7. Don’t forget…
There are so many things that you can include in a Welcome Guide, and each one is as unique and individual as the home it belongs to. Take the time to think through all the aspects of your home so that there aren’t any unfortunate surprises when you return. Particular guidelines for watering plants? Share them. Did you tell what day to take out the trash? Make a note.
Back in March, we were thrilled to announce the launch of the HomeExchange App on iOS. But we also knew we were only getting to a portion of our community. With the introduction of the Android version, we have extended our reach. Now, if you have a smartphone, you can now have HomeExchange with you wherever you are.
Searching in the palm of your hand
The apps will by no means replace the experience of using HomeExchange on your computer it does assist in several ways. With the most recent version of the Apps, you have the ability to:
- Log in to an existing account
- Perform search and reverse searches
- View the results of your search in both list and map form
- Make use of the map to search for listings in a designated area
- View Member listings and profiles
- Contact other Members and access all your messages
- View your listing and profile
Are there limits?
The HomeExchange development team is continually working to update and improve the experience of both HomeExchange.com and our Apps. At this time the Apps are only in English, but other languages are coming soon. Along with that, the following actions can currently not available through the App:
- Create a new or renew an account
- Add an additional listing to an existing account
- Edit your listing, profile or account information
- Send messages to multiple members at one time
- Access or add listings to your Lists
- Register an exchange through the messaging system.
If you need any additional help on using the App, our Help Section has several articles available to help make HomeExchange even more accessible.
Have you been using the App? We’d love your feedback. Send your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or take a moment and go to the App Store/Play Store and rate the HomeExchange App now!
For the last six months, we have loved the opportunity to watch our Community grow and flourish through the introduction of the Facebook Groups.
If you didn’t know, in September of 2017, we announced private Members-only groups for various countries around the world. We are now up to 19 groups reaching out to over 8,000 Members.
If you are already a member of the Groups? We’d appreciate your feedback.
Haven’t joined yet? Discover what you’re missing out on by becoming a part of one or more of the Facebook Groups today!
Since 1925, there has been one stage defining, building, and inventing country music: the Grand Ole Opry. In its early years, it was a barn-dance radio show hosted for an hour by George D. Hay. Trying to bring “red hot fiddle playing” to liven up listeners’ evening, the radio program was selective and innovative as it handpicked new acts to come on the show. As it grew, the Grand Ole Opry began increasing their talent base and taping length, attracting a larger audience with a broader taste.
By putting out your “Welcome” mat, your Exchange Partners will feel more comfortable visiting your home and have a “worry-free” vacation. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself for an exchange.
1. Tidy up your home
Do you prefer to have a home with everything in its place or are you a little more relaxed? Whatever your housekeeping method, it is always best to clarify before you arrange an exchange. Many members prefer to exchange with people who have similar habits as it can make everyone feel more comfortable during their stay. If you are a family with tiny humans, look for homes that are better equipped to handle sticky fingers and offer laundry facilities. Communicating your expectations and needs clearly is a great way to make sure everyone has the best exchange possible.
2. Leave some space
A little room can go a long way when it comes to feeling at home. By making sure your Exchange Partner have plenty of space for their luggage, clothes, and groceries, they will feel all the more welcome. Leave some room in your closets, empty a few drawers, leave plenty of empty hangers and clear enough space in the kitchen for them to store meal-time staples. You can also share which items are moveable and which you would prefer they keep in place. It is also ideal to:
- Make sure there are enough clean towels and linens for your guests.
- Stock up on items like toilet paper, bath soap, and cleaning supplies.
- Store any valuables or lock important items away in a closet.
3. Leave Instructions
When preparing your home for the arrival of your guests, it is helpful to:
- Leave written directions or an simple guide in a handy place for things like Television remotes, kitchen appliances, WiFi networks, alarm systems, heating units, air conditioners, and the vacuum cleaner.
- Make a list of names and phone numbers of repair people.
- Leave simple written instructions for pet and plant care.
- Ask your post office to hold your mail for you until you return.
- Temporarily discontinue newspaper delivery.
- Prepay your bills.
- Get the lawn mowed, pool cleaned, etc. prior to your Exchange Partner’s arrival.
- If a car is part of the exchange, leave copies of your car insurance and registration. Also, you might want to get your car tuned up.
- Make a list of emergency numbers that include your doctor, a nearby hospital or emergency clinic, the fire department, and the police.
4. Share the local flavor
One of the many perks of using home exchange for travel is the ability to “Live Like a Local.” Help give your Exchange Partner an orientation to the area by leaving a city guide with insider information. Here are some items that might help your Exchange partners make the most of their visit:
- It might seem basic, but where do you do your grocery shopping? If the store a few miles away has a much better selection than the one across the street, your guests will appreciate the information (and directions).
- Include a range of restaurants, from cheap eats to special nights out (and be upfront about prices). If possible, leave menus for your Exchange Partners from local take-out and delivery restaurants for those nights when cooking or going out both seem like daunting tasks!
- Find out ahead of time if there are certain types of activities your Exchange partners plan on doing. If they love hiking, print out a local trail map. Into museums? Leave tips on free museum days and upcoming exhibits.
- If you live in a suburb, include the best ways to get into the city (highway always crowded around rush hour? What’s your secret shortcut?) Your guests will appreciate not having to sit in traffic, and they’ll have more time to enjoy the activities listed in their city guide!
- Stay away from the stuff in the tour books (chances are your Exchange partner already read those). What are YOUR favorite things to do in your town?
5. A Warm Welcome
A lot of our Members like to leave a small gift for their Exchange Partners. It can be a bottle of wine, breakfast food, some fruits, a simple meal or even a local delicacy. While it isn’t necessary, it is wonderful gesture to help them kick of their exchange.
For more tips on getting your home ready, take a look at this comprehensive checklist.
Are you ready to exchange? Join now and start living like a local.
Take a minute and think about what you love about travel. Is it the possibility of discovering something new? A chance to visit places you’ve only imagined? The opportunity to step out of your day-to-day life and live like a local? Now, step into your children’s shoes. Yes, they may be tiny but try to think back and recall what it was like the first time you went on a trip. Any adventure. It could have even just been going to visit an out-of-town family member. Your world expanded as though you were on a quest for hidden treasure.
With HomeExchange, that sense of wonder is an everyday occurrence. Between searching destinations for a possible exchange or receiving an inquiry, the world is at your keyboard (or phone, thanks to our Android and iOS apps). And when kids get involved, the exchange experience takes on a whole new meaning. Here are a few ways that swapping homes can benefit your tiny humans.
Explore something new!
One of the magic things about travel is that the walls of the classroom are left behind. The whole world offers the possibility to learn and discover. Children get to ask questions, meet strangers (with parental supervision of course), and see that a lot more is happening out there that can’t be watched on a screen or found in a book. They are able to walk down the streets of history and experience a different neighborhood or country. Learning becomes all the more real when you live it.
“Sharing is Caring”
School can teach facts and figures, but it also provides a place for a child to learn life lessons like how to make friends, thinking critically, or playing well with others. Exchange homes is a chance to those skills to good use. There is a possibility that even you might feel a little odd about someone else sleeping in your bed. For a kid, that might be the least of their concerns. They could ask, “What about my toys?!” Here’s where those soft-skills from school come in. By exchanging homes with another family, a whole new set of toys is at the other end of the journey. They might even find their new favorite doll/car/book along the way! We often have Members share the artwork children leave behind thanking their Exchange Partner peer for letting them stay in their room and sharing their things.
We all get busy at home. There are errands to run, work to do, meals to prep and, of course, play dates, practices and more. And that doesn’t even account for any screen time that may or may not happen. With a HomeExchange, your every day gets left behind. Sure, there are still errands to run but, while on an exchange, they can become a family adventure. Discovering new foods, breaking the rules and have ice cream before dinner, while on a trip schedules can take a backseat. You get to play and be as carefree as your child is. After all, who couldn’t use a little more fun in their life.
No matter how many tips, how much money you save, or the reason behind the trip, the memories you make as a family will be the best souvenirs you could ask for. What do you think? We look forward to hearing what benefits you’ve uncovered through family exchanges.
Take a chance and your adventurous spirit will thank you.
Classic destinations are considered “classic” for a reason. The beaches of California, the culture of Barcelona, the history of London, or the celebrations of Munich all have their place. But when you want an experience that is a little more individual and unique, we recommend taking a look outside the norm and venture to some of these lesser-known regions. Each one is spectacular in its own way and, the best part, there are members of HomeExchange ready to exchange with you. Let’s explore!
Asheville, North Carolina
Located about two hours from Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, the surprisingly temperate, Asheville is positioned in a region that can be enjoyed any time of the year. This unique metropolis is a study in contrasts. It showcases a vibrant architectural cross-section mixing Neoclassical with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles with more modern sensibilities. Through the years, it has become a refuge for artists, political leaders, and more.
To have an authentic “like a local” experience, we asked a few of our Ambassadors to share their thoughts. As Tricia put it, “Asheville has something for everyone: from the beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiast to the patron of the arts looking to enjoy live music and theater. The area has beautiful vistas with plenty of outdoor activities as well as a delicious food scene. You can buy produce from the local farmers’ market, tube down the French Broad River or hike in the mountains, sample many different local craft beers, listen to some live music and have a fantastic meal all in one day.”
With easy access to the stunning outdoors and plenty of activities to keep every member of the family occupied, don’t wait to add Asheville to your travel Bucket List.
Like its motto says “Cantabria Infinita,” there is no shortage of things to fall in love with in this stunning region. Tucked between Asturias and the Basque Country, the curious combination of mountain landscapes and gorgeous coastline make Cantabria an ideal destination. Take a trip back in time and discover the impressive prehistoric locations at the Altamira Caves, stroll the coastal towns of San Vicente de la Barquera or Santillana del Mar, or relax on the fantastic sands of Langre. With all there is to do in Cantabria, you might just run short on time.
County Clare, Ireland
Located on the West Coast of Ireland and surrounded by pockets of rivers, County Clare is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage, and families with children of all ages. With a strong history of traditional music, County Clare is the home of many Ceili Bands with numerous music festivals held throughout the year. From Munster Vales to the Cliffs of Moher to the history-steeped city of Limerick, there is always something to see or do in County Clare.
The Black Forest, Germany
Be careful, or you might just become so fascinated with the Black Forest that you might never want to leave. With dark fir forest, picturesque landscapes, and streams rushing through romantic valleys, the area is straight out of storybooks. Bordered by Switzerland and France, the region is known as “Three-Country Corner,” and offers its visitors a wide selection of activities in the heart of Europe. Where else in the world can you find locals wearing traditional dress, taste a delicious cake named after the region, AND visit a world-renowned theme park during one exchange? Between the food, the views, and the people, the Black Forest should be on everyone’s destination list.
Known as “God’s own country,” Yorkshire is positioned in the North-Central part of England, is England’s most significant historical county, and is also considered to be among the greenest of counties thanks to its vast areas of unspoiled countryside. Famous names like the Bronte Sisters, Guy Fawkes, David Hockney, and Ed Sheeran have all called this inspiring area home.
Between the food and drink, festivals, and historic destinations Yorkshire has something to offer no matter when you exchange. Sure, it can be a little damp in the Fall and Winter, but that only adds to the beauty the rest of the year.
If County Clare isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This county on the West Coast of Ireland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage can enjoy many famous landmarks and iconic sites, and families with children of all ages can enjoy the beaches, caves, and forests to name just a few of the activities available. Sure, it can get a little windy and wet at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” County Clare.
Where is County Clare?
County Clare is on the West Coast of Ireland and surrounded by pockets of rivers. To the southeast you’ll find Ireland’s third longest river, the River Shannon, Lough Derg marks the northeast, Galway Bay in the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. While the weather can be a little hit and miss, ranging from wet and windy to beautiful and sunny, it is Spring to Summer that showcases County Clare to its full glory in bloom!
What is County Clare known for:
With a strong history of traditional music, County Clare is the home of many Ceili Bands including Kilfenora and Tulla Céilí Band, Stockton’s Wing, Sharon Shannon, Noel Hill, Peadar O’Loughlin, Martin Hayes and legendary tin-whistler Micho Russell. Many traditional music festivals are held throughout the year so be prepared to sing and dance along.
What to do in County Clare:
If you’re looking for some active outdoor fun along the “Wild Atlantic Way” consider surfing, abseiling, mountain biking, pony trekking and fishing are all available throughout County Clare. Visit the Munster Vales with its gorgeous mountain ranges linking the counties of Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick and everything in between. The Cliffs of Moher and the beautiful seaside town of Kilkee offer peace, tranquility, and more than its share of beauty.
What to see:
Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet – Join the Earl of Thomond for a glorious banquet at this majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle
The Cliffs of Moher – Visit Ireland’s spectacular natural wonders and be awe-inspired. On a clear day you can see all the way to Galway Bay, the Blasket Islands, the cliffs of Aran and the Maumturk mountains. Simply unmissable.
Doolin Caves – Take an adventure underground and witness the Great Stalactite which suspends like a magnificent grand chandelier. At over 23 feet long and weighing over ten tonnes, prepare to be astounded!
Doolin Music House – This gem of a destination offers an evening of traditional music, history, Irish culinary delights, and storytelling.
Limerick Walking Tours – Explore this amazing city steeped in history.
Mountshannon Arts Festival – held at the end of May, this festival will treat you to traditional music, poetry, dance and a fairy trail walk.
Doolin Folk Festival – For music lovers, this family-friendly festival held in June is one of the places you can attend to listen to a diverse programme of powerful music.
Doonbeg Jazz Festival – If Jazz is more to your taste, go along and get those dancing feet ready to enjoy bands from Scotland, The Netherlands and, of course, from all over Ireland for a weekend of entertainment.
Photo of The Cliffs of Moher