How to Organize a Long-Term Adventure with HomeExchange
Ever thought about taking a long trip made up of multiple exchanges? Here’s advice from one HomeExchange couple who just embarked on a five-month, three-country, 12-exchange journey! They say you’re only limited by your imagination.
If you have experienced the pleasure of a home exchange, you know how exciting it is and how you want to do more. So… why not schedule several home exchanges in a row for a longer, unforgettable trip? It may seem daunting to organize, but with these tips you’re only limited by your imagination!
Plan Dates in Advance
The more exchanges involved, the more time you need to organize. It also helps to have a range of potential travel dates in mind to tell potential exchangers. Can they fit your stay into that date range? Does their visit to your home need to be simultaneous or can it be non-simultaneous? Or is it hospitality? Do their preferred dates work with your schedule? Non-simultaneous exchanges can make scheduling a lot easier. This works best if you have a second home or a place to go when your exchange partners visit your home.
When you are fitting multiple exchanges into a calendar puzzle, schedule those with restricted dates first, then add the flexible folks. Sometimes there are gaps (hopefully small), which can be ideal for a road trip or short hotel/B&B stay.
Map It Out
What locations are most important to you? Be flexible and don’t be afraid to accept an offer from a place that you hadn’t considered. Welcome the unknown as part of your adventure.
Utilize the Excellent Tools on HomeExchange.com
List your preferred destinations in your profile so other members will find you. Do reverse searches of profiles looking for your location or specific dates. And definitely consider using Balloons from the Passport program. When you are searching for a specific location, use the filters, as focusing on personal preferences that are important to you will ensure a happy exchange. Is a car available? Is non-smoking required? How many travelers will you be?
Communication Is Key
Make sure all parties understand your scheduling goals and that you will honor theirs. Precious vacation plans, flights, and finances are involved so it’s important for all to be certain of their commitments. The awesomeness of HomeExchange is largely a function of the relationships and trust between exchangers. As plans progress from a range of potential dates to confirmed dates, stay in touch with everyone involved. Arrange for Skype calls to improve comfort levels.
Document the Details
You might think you can keep track of all the facts and figures in your head or by referencing emails, but maintaining a spreadsheet or summary page is a huge help. Create a document with all your potential and confirmed exchanges. For each one, include a listing number, location, names, dates, address, phone numbers, and skype IDs, plus notes for pet care, special requests, restrictions, and dates for visits to your home. Is it full exchange or hospitality? How can you access the house keys? Is a car included?
You may want a spreadsheet for transportation details too. How are you getting from the airport (train station etc.) to each home? If a car is included, will it be at the home or the airport? We often leave our car at a managed parking lot so our exchangers can get it at the airport if we aren’t in town. How are you getting between exchanges (rental car, train, plane, bus)? Include flight numbers and times. Keep track of it all in one place or you may find yourself scrambling for information.
At Your Own Home
- Allow time for a dependable cleaning service between exchanges.
- Rely on a trusted neighbor/friend to keep an eye on your home, greet exchangers, and respond to unexpected issues.
- Reward them with goodies from your trip, if possible. Ours got a case of international wine, plus a reserve of cash for any emergency repairs.
- Be sure to share your detailed itinerary.
- Have a handyman on call who is familiar with your home.
- Create a HomeExchange manual with details about wi-fi codes, contact numbers, instructions for appliances, and departure instructions. A list of local restaurants, grocery stores and things to do is always appreciated.
- Provide a generous supply of bathroom tissue, paper towels, cleaning products, and easy-to-find bedding and towels.
- If you’re exchanging your car, check all maintenance needs and overall cleanliness.
- Including a GPS or local maps is helpful.
- Clear space for your guests in the kitchen pantry, fridge and bedroom closet or drawers.
You’re on Your Way
When you arrive at each exchange, try not to plan anything big for the first day or the last day. Upon arrival, give yourself time to settle in, get groceries, and adjust to new time zones. On the last day, get ready for your next adventure: write a nice thank-you note; give yourself ample time to pack and clean (don’t leave anything behind); and make sure everything is as lovely as you found it.
A Real Life Example
Using these planning tips, we have organized a five-month trip with 12 back-to-back home exchanges in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Follow our journey here at HomeExchange Blog and on our blog at www.RomancingTheGlobeTravelBlog.com.