Elevate Your Guest Persona

We all know that many facets have to come together to make a genuinely spectacular exchange. It is all about finding the proper balance of Exchange Partners along with the comfort of feeling like you are at home while traveling. And that’s just the beginning. If there is anything that can take your exchange experience to another level it is by being the best guest you can be.

Now stick with us. Most of you are probably incredibly fantastic guests but there are certain occasions when “things” happen that can leave a host feeling a little less than satisfied. What makes a quality guest? Here are some tips to get you thinking:

Put yourself in their shoes (not literally)

To get started, take a moment and consider how you like to return home after your exchange. How does your home look? Like we say in our HomeExchange etiquette article, we recommend doing your best to leave your exchange in the same condition or cleaner than when you arrived. Some experienced exchangers even take photos of the home when they get there (particularly if they have kids) so that they can do their best to return things to the original place.

Make yourself at home (within reason)

Once you arrive at your exchange take a few moments to review the Welcome Guide or any information your Exchange Partner may have left behind. By doing this right when you arrive, you will know from the very beginning when trash pick up happens or if there are any special instructions regarding watering plants. Also, while out of the house, make a point to secure the door before leaving. While your home area might be safe and welcoming, it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Be good neighbor

While you are taking your trip, you might end up slipping into “vacation-mode.” Hey, we get it. Just make a point to remember that just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that everyone else around you is. By taking a few moments to introduce yourself the neighbors and letting them know that you’re staying in your Exchange Partner’s home is a not only an excellent way to get acquainted but it can also make them more interested in helping out while you are there. See, more new friends!

A little thanks can go a long way

One thing that many members of our community like to do is to leave a small gift or note to say thank you to their hosts. It could be something local from your home region, or it could be something that you enjoyed while visiting. Whatever you decide to do, at least leave a bit of a thank you note. Hearing about your experience or learning about a fun memory is an ideal thing to return to after a trip.

Before you close the door…

Just before you leave your exchange, make sure to do one last walk through. Have you emptied the trash? Did you put the keys back in the agreed upon location? What about that phone charger? It may only take 5 minutes but can save hours of headaches later.

Last but not least: Communicate, communicate, communicate

We could keep going but, in the end, it all comes down to a very straightforward thing: Talk to your Exchange Partner. Before you go, while you’re there, or before you leave, talking through expectations will help make things easier for everyone involved. Do you have a cleaning person who comes in weekly? Great, but who will pay for that while you’re away? Should the beds be stripped before leaving or would they prefer to make them upon returning home? Should the dishwasher and laundry be washed and dried before departure or better to let the host take care of that? These are just a few questions to consider.

We know that being a “good” guest can be somewhat subjective, but sometimes even the best guests can use a little refresher. Now we turn to you, what is it that makes someone a good guest in your mind? Share in the comments below!

8 Comments on “Elevate Your Guest Persona

  1. On return of an exchange in our home, we are happy when the house is clean & tidy. Dishes done and laundry washed or left if previously organised. Beds made and our home looks as though it has been loved as much as we love it.
    I always leave a welcome hamper for my guests and when I leave an exchange home, a thank you card and gift.
    It is very rare for us to receive a gift from our exchanges, however, I still feel it is the right thing for me to do. They are trusting us to care for their home and a token of appreciation is valued.
    Kim & I have now done over 40 exchanges in the last 10 years. We are members of 3 Exchange sites and could not imagine travelling any other way.

  2. Hello- you may want to advice hosts to thoroughly clean their home- de-clutter. Leave room for clothes. Make sure they leave clean fresh towels- not student left overs that need bleaching or throwing out. Clean cooking utensils- apparatus et al. You’d think it would be common sense but some have little respect whilst others are excellent. I’d put up a check list for hosts and guests to swap on agreement. Even dec0r should be stated as some look good but are in fact very poor when you see it in the flesh so to speak.

  3. Geoff and I have happily had 8 exchanges and like Vicki, I leave my fridge supplied with fresh food, enough for the next meal and breakfast so our exchange hosts don’t have to go to the shops on arrival. Being our only residence, my pantry is full of the usual essentials which I am happy to share.
    I also have the advantage of family living close by so a warm welcome at the airport or at ‘home’ is always possible. My brother speaks French so for our French visitors he has been on hand to translate my notes and lead the way to the closest shops which is always appreciated.
    Our small ‘local’ gift and card, which I leave with notes, brochures and user manuals, is one of welcome and thanks.
    I am now looking forward to planning our UK exchanges for 2019.
    Happy Home Exchange everyone, a fabulous way to travel 🙂

  4. We have been exchanging for years and find the best way to make sure the home on both ends meets expectations is to have a profession cleaning service clean our home before we leave on the exchange and then have it recleaned just prior to our arriving back home. Afterall, we are all on vacation and the last thing you want to do the day you are leaving to catch an early morning flight is to run around cleaning, taking out the trash, doing laundry etc. One of the things we’ve found that varies by family and culture is the idea of clean. Having a professional cleaning service attend to the details takes this issue out of the picture. Besides, home exchange is such a win, win that the extra cost is well worth it.

  5. Our guests have been (with one exception) great. Seldom can we tell that they were even here. The one exception was with small children. Remember that while your home and yard may be kid-proof, many of ours are not. One family let their kids play in the stream and pond and landscaping. It took some time to fix the broken micro sprinklers and I still have toys at the bottom of the pond. What were the parents thinking? We now have this discussion with new exchangers before we agree to exchange. Problem solved.

  6. Dear Editor.
    We are South Africans living in Somerset West.
    We were fortunate to have had the most fantastic geusts you can hope for.
    I find Hollanders the most generous. Always bringing a small gift of, usually some delicatessen from they home town. Seeking us for chats and eager to learn about our country. I appreciate that very mutch from my geusts.
    What I appreciate from geusts is cleansiness. Closing gates. And be aware of our security issues in Africa. Also consideration for our very dry country presently suffering severe water restrictions. Also not leaving on heaters, underfloor heating and air conditioning when they are out during the day

    Not the topic here but :
    Arriving in a strange city sometimes late after 20to 24hours on a plane I really appreciate the basic grocery stuff to start off. Like bread, milk, eggs coffee tea and maybe a fruit or two. For the shops are yet to be found. And mostly closed by the time off arrival, every one is so tired after a long flight.
    I make a point to stock my geust fridge with breakfast stuff for at least 2to 3 days. As well as the first night’s supper.
    A fantastic ice bracker is a welcome drink and snack
    And I must say mostly we found the same in all the places we visited. It makes a stay so much more practical for geusts.
    I agree that communication is the answer to success through out the stay.
    I can honestly say that we had only fair and fabulous exchanges so far
    If any of my exchange partners read this. I Say hi!

    Thank you. May this tradition never end.!


  7. We certainly agree with all the above. It makes for wonderful exchanges. But might we suggest one slight change in the article section entitled “Last but not least”. We don’t want anyone to be offended when they read ” Do you have a cleaning lady who comes in weekly? “. Maybe a cleaning person? Just a thought. 🙂 Happy exchanging everyone.

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