Member Stories: The HomeExchange Journey from Concern to Confidence
The time leading up to a very first home exchange is always filled with excitement. And also, sometimes, worry. These HomeExchangers share memories of their first times — the hesitations and doubts — and how they came away convinced and enthusiastic for more!
“When I signed up, my first concern was whether anyone would be interested in my home. So when I received my first exchange requests, I was struck by how people with much better houses than mine were willing to exchange.”
“That said, we were excited to discover Switzerland, so we looked for a house there. I prepared a personal email and sent several inquiries. To my surprise, a few days later I received a positive response from a family living in a village by a lake in the center of the country. It was perfect! We began to discuss details and formalized the agreement.
I have to admit that while all was well agreed and the family conveyed trust, until we reached the date of exchange we always had doubts that everything would be fine — that they would change their mind or there would be a misunderstanding. And in what state would I find my home after the exchange?
All doubts disappeared when we entered their home. It was a bizarre feeling to begin discovering a house that strangers had placed at our disposal. You feel a mixture of excitement and responsibility for taking care of it, and I understood that probably our exchange partners had a similar feeling when reaching our home, which reassured me.”
When I tell other people about our exchanges they are often very interested but also incredulous. “Aren’t you afraid of what they might do to your house and your property?” they ask. Well, they take care of my house and my property (and my cat and my chicken) as I do theirs! Maybe I am just naïve, but if you don’t go for it, you miss a lot of good experiences! In today’s world; if you only listen to what you hear on the news, all others people are bad. But most of them are friendly and kind, just like yourself, and that is very important to experience.
If you can get over the fact that you will have “respectful like-minded strangers” staying in your home, using your facilities and sleeping in your bed, then you and your family will benefit from holidays that you could only ever dream about had you won the lottery! I promise you there’s nothing more exciting than receiving an email reply saying “Yes, we’d love to swap with you” from somewhere you have always wanted to visit! Go ahead and try HomeExchange and may all your holiday dreams come true. Just like ours!
We hear “HomeExchange? We have to try that!” all the time. But many people never do. Fear of having a stranger in their home is the biggest reason. My wife and I have assured dozens of friends, family, and coworkers that while things do happen, like a dented fender or a broken wine glass, these are nothing compared to the friends we have made over the years. Friends that are more like family now. I believe home exchanging is the original “shared economy” and it does more for international relations than anything else.
For a long time we’d been tempted to take part in an exchange, but a little bit of fear held us back. This year, we finally dared to give it a try and, after our first, we’re now ready to dive right back in. We don’t see any downside to home exchange, despite the upfront preparation required. We now feel perfectly settled in the homes of others who place trust in us. We also have at our disposal all the conveniences of home (bikes, canoes, car, internet, helpful neighbors, tips about where to go…).
Everyone asks if we do home exchanges because they’re free and if we are a little afraid to leave our home. We always answer NO – that we are not afraid, that I have as much confidence in others as they have in me. And that it isn’t a question of money, but a question of travel that helps us learn more about other ways of life, other people, other homes and, of course, other cultures.
We were introduced to HomeExchange back in Oct 2012. We were in the middle of Botswana, got talking to a Canadian family who told us all about the concept and were hooked! We were so excited and inspired by the early messages (from other members)! We simply loved the possibilities. We were also encouraged: we seemed to have found a community of people with many shared values, and great enthusiasm both for traveling and, more importantly, for wanting something more than a bland hotel room on the outskirts of somewhere amazing.
The skeptics ask “But how you can do it!? People you do not know in your house and you go to these strangers’ homes without knowing them?” Of course! Because if there’s one thing that unites everyone who practices home exchanging, it’s not saving money (which is also important), but the wish to open up to the discovery of others and to share with others what you have. We have always met people who are polite, respectful, and interested in life and beautiful things. For us, HomeExchange was a big surprise. We approached the concept with some perplexity many years ago, but since then have never stopped. Every year, we do two or three exchanges.