Your Guide to Balloon Exchanges

One of the questions we tend to hear the most through our Happiness Support Team and Member-only Facebook Groups (if you haven’t joined any, now’s your chance!), it is regarding the concept of Balloons. The HomeExchange team came together to create a guide to give you added clarity about this exciting exchange option.

The Basics:

As with most things, it is best to start at the beginning. HomeExchange offers three main types of Exchanges: Reciprocal, Non-Reciprocal & Hospitality.

    • Reciprocal – you and your Exchange Partner swap homes either simultaneously or at different times.
    • Non-Reciprocal – you either host or stay with an Exchange Partner without that Member hosting or staying with you. A Balloon Exchange would fall under this category of exchange.
    • Hospitality – you stay at the home of your Exchange Partner while they are still there. In a lot of ways, you are almost a part of the Member’s family. They introduce you to their lifestyle, their friends and can act as your local tour guide!

A Balloon for a Stay

What IS a Balloon Exchange?

As we said above, a Balloon Exchange would be considered a type of Non-Reciprocal Exchange. If you’re a Member of HomeExchange, you are included in innovative program as a part of your membership. Here’s how it works:

First, you host a Member who holds a Balloon. This can be either as a Hospitality Exchange (they stay with you while you are still at home) or a Non-Reciprocal Exchange (they stay at your home without you). Once the Exchange has been registered, their Balloon transfers over to you. You are now a proud holder of a Balloon! You can then use the Balloon to explore the world and stay, in the same way, at another Member’s home, helping to continue the HomeExchange cycle. All know that, with a Balloon Exchange, the duration of the exchange and size of home are all treated equally. One Balloon is equal to one Exchange.

It is important to note that you are not able to request a Balloon Exchange unless you already hold a Balloon. The best way to get a Balloon is through the process we described – by hosting a Member with a Balloon. If you are not able to earn a Balloon in your first year of membership, HomeExchange will grant you a Balloon for your first paid renewal.

Use a Balloon Exchange and travel the world

How do I arrange a Balloon Exchange?

The process of setting up a Balloon Exchange is essentially the same as that of arranging any exchange. You confirm that you have a Balloon to offer. You do this by clicking on “Dashboard” from the “Your Account” menu on HomeExchange. You will see a graphic at the top of the Dashboard letting you know how many Balloons you hold and how many you have used. Once you know that you have a Balloon, you make an offer.

If you already know who you’d like to contact, click “Get in Touch” and check the “Balloon Exchange” option in the Exchange Request form. From there, you arrange the Exchange as you would any other. You communicate with the potential Exchange Partner and sort out all the dates and information. Once that is complete, make sure to record the Exchange through the site. All Exchanges must be officially registered prior to the actual Exchange for Balloons to transfer.

To earn a Balloon, you can offer to host another Member. The process is similar to requesting an Exchange. As you Search, you will see that some Members have a Balloon icon in the upper left corner of their Listing or Profile photos. Spotting this is your cue that they hold a Balloon. If you find someone you’re interested in hosting you can “Get in Touch” and offer to Host Member (Earn a Balloon). From there, the process continues as before. Please be considerate when making requests. Take a look at the Member’s Preferred Destinations and be conscious of the number of travelers in their party. If your home is not child friendly, it is probably best to save your request for Members who don’t have children.

We know that the concept Balloon Exchanges is still relatively new to the HomeExchange community. That is why we have expanded our Help Section to better answer many of the frequently asked questions relating to all things Balloon.

Visit our Help Section

As always, we love your feedback. Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment below.

59 Comments on “Your Guide to Balloon Exchanges

  1. We have both used a balloon for an exchange and earned one.
    A couple from the Netherland’s requested to stay at our home and we didn’t want to go to the Netherlands at this stage. They enjoyed a holiday at ours for a week days in January.
    Then my husband was wanting to go trout fishing and so we have redeemed a balloon to go to stay at a lake for a week, 5 hours drive from us. The people who redeemed the balloon are using it to go to a running meet overseas.
    The balloon system is working well for us.

  2. In December 2014 we hosted a couple from Ajijic in Mexico. We have no intention of taking up the exchange we are owed there. Is there any way that we can get that one converted into a balloon instead?


    • Great question, Dawn. Unfortunately, Balloons cannot be earned retroactively and can only be earned if the person you are hosting has a Balloon to transfer. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to our Happiness Support Team.

  3. I think you should highlight the “please be considerate when making requests” a bit more.
    I don’t have a balloon, yet get mass mailouts asking for my balloon, it’s obvious they haven’t even looked at my profile. This is a huge problem lately.
    Please change the number of requests that can be sent out in one day to 10. You can see by the Facebook groups that we HATE getting impersonal mass mailouts and it is also a problem where people reply “interested” to an offer, never to hear back again. I think this is all due to people sending too many impersonal offers without properly researching/ reading profiles. I have a very good rate of offers sent – exchanges, because I take the time to read profiles and send offers one at a time.
    So PLEASE reduce the number of offers able to be sent to 10 per day to encourage people to be more considerate. Home exchange should be about PERSONAL CONNECTION not mass balloon grabs by greedy people.

    • Hi Linda, thank you for your comment. We are on your side in thinking that consideration is key and are aware that there has been an increase with mass impersonal messages. At this time, we don’t have any plans for lowering the number of exchanges sent but we will pass the suggestion on to the Development Team for the future. We plan to continue to push the fact that personalized messages lead to a greater potential for success.

      • While I agree that mass mailings are annoying, I don’t agree with putting a relatively low (10) limit on the number of requests per day which a person can send. My reasoning is because of an incident in my past as a Home Exchange member.

        In 2015, we negotiated a home exchange with a couple across the continent (we are on the east coast and they on the west coast). All of the details of the exchange were negotiated 6 months in advance of the exchange to allow each party plenty of time to plan their trips, including air travel. We exchanged all personal details and promised to inform each other if and when something changed to affect the exchange. We touched bases a few times and then about 6 weeks prior to the exchange we purchased our airline tickets and then messaged our exchange partners. They didn’t return our messages via email or the home exchange messaging system or phone messages. Eventually I reached them by phone and learned that they had found a “better” exchange with somebody in our area and had already confirmed an exchange with this other party and refused to honor our original agreement. By this point, it was only 4 weeks until our planned exchange, we had already purchased non-refundable airfares and reserved vacation time from work, and we were in a panic to find a replacement exchange. Our planned trip was to a very popular world famous destination in southern California, so there were many people listing their homes at Home Exchange. Our home is in a very nice, but certainly not as “touristy” and area on the east coast; so I was very worried about getting an exchange partner on short notice; and sent literally dozens of exchange requests every day for several days to people who had put “open to any destination” on their listings. Most people were not interested or didn’t reply; but one lovely couple expressed sympathy for our plight and interest in visiting our area; and we concluded a very very enjoyable and successful exchange.

        If there had been a limit on the number of exchange requests per day, it’s possible that we would not have been able to conclude an exchange on such short notice.

        I would support a limit of as low as 10 requests per day only if there were some kind of “appeal” system at Home Exchange in which people in exceptional situations like us could be temporarily granted an increased number of daily exchange requests.

        • Bob, thank you so much for sharing your story! We are so glad you were able to find an exchange that worked in the end but understand the “oh no” feeling that came before it. Again, thank you for sharing.

      • Inconsiderate requests are not a result of people looking too hard; they are a result of inconsiderate people. I’m glad you’re not reducing the number of requests. We’ve done 8 exchanges and our offer acceptance rate is below 5%. Making me wait a day to complete requests would be a waste of time, and not make anyone more considerate, if they weren’t already.

    • Hi Sally, thank you for your questions. Balloon do NOT have an expiration date. They are good for as long as you are a member. With regards to length of stay, a Balloon is equal to an Exchange. Length time and size of the home have no impact on utilizing a Balloon. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

  4. I have to admit I still do not really get this. Can members with Balloons just contact me and ask to stay with me even though I have no interest in Balloon exchanges. Even if I agree to one how do I get a return exchange. DonI just contact any member and say I want to stay with them?
    Has this Balloon system been successful to date?

    • Hello Ger, thank you for your question. If you have no interest in Balloon Exchanges, you can opt out of the program at any time. Many members have found success with the Program but we recognize that it isn’t for everyone. For your specific questions, we’d direct you to contact our 24/7 Happiness Support Team. They can help you better understand the system and how, if you remain in the program, how to utilize any Balloons you may receive.

  5. I don’t mean to be mean but I thought this was as clear as mud. I’m still confused.

    • Thank you for the honest feedback, Loueen. For additional clarification, feel free to reach out to our Happiness Support Team. They are always available to answer any questions you might have.

  6. Seems not too many are interested in balloon exchanges. It would be helpful to have a filter for those wanting to accept a balloon.
    We need more articles like this and more often in order to educate people on balloon exchanges.

    • Hi Joni, we totally agree. That is something that is already on our agenda with our development and content teams. We hope this article helps clarify some questions and aim to do more in the future. Thank you for the comment!

      • Yes! And along with that, a search filter for “pool” and “hot tub/spa” and “dogs accepted” and “dogs not accepted”

    • Agree with Joni – I have 2 balloons and have difficulty finding someone who wants one. Thanks for working on a system to identify those interested in a balloon exchange.

      • Hi, Ricki
        We are interested in earning a balloon. We have a lovely home in San Rafael, CA, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge if you would like to come and stay. We can only accommodate a couple if we are at home but up to five if we are away. Please let me know if you are interested.

    • Completely agree! The search process to locate those interested in accepting a baloon is too cumbersome without a filter. In essence it amounts to searching the word “baloon” and looking for listings who put “accepting baloons” in the their listing titles. But often these are only for a narrow set of dates. We therefore gave up even trying and have not used our baloon. Unless this gets fixed, this otherwise promising program is going to fizzle.

  7. Since is a relatively new program, I suggest to have a way to mark the balloon exchanges in the guestbook. That way members can see if the potential hosts had experience with balloon exchange and how well they did. This is particularly important here since this program does not include any reciprocity.

  8. Once I have exchanged with another member and they have used my place do I automically get a balloon?

    • Hello Gary, you receive a Balloon if it is a registered Balloon Exchange. To do that the Member you are hosting has to have a Balloon and it has to be a Balloon Exchange when the Exchange is confirmed. Please feel free to check out our help section or contact the Happiness Support Team if you have any other questions.

  9. Hello,
    I wonder if you could help me please. I am currently trying to fix up a stay in Bali and have sent out requests. I had a positive response from Lawrence requesting a Balloon from us. I followed all the registering the Balloon stay procedures but have not heard from him. Also strangely the responses came from ‘Barry’ half way through the conversations. Is it possible for you to look and see if maybe the messages are not getting through to the correct person.
    Many thanks, Les

  10. If I understand this, I can not leave myself with zero balloons, by using my last balloon?

    • Hello Greg, you are able to use all the Balloons you earn. But once you have used them for a Balloon Exchange, you would have to host someone for a Balloon before you could go on another Balloon Exchange. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to our Happiness Support Team.

  11. We used a balloon to stay in Hilton Head last November, and it worked like a charm..Our HH partners were able to use my balloon in New Zealand, where they were on vacation at the time. I now have 2 other balloon exchanges arranged for later on this year. It is a great program, thank you Team Home Exchange.!!
    One tip: Try doing the balloon exchange with folks with a second home, it makes the logistics easier to arrange.

  12. Hi, I would really appreciate to have a filter for those wanting to accept a balloon. I have used 1 balloon my self and it worked well. I now have 1 balloon and it would really help if I could filter for that. Also to find people that I could offer my house for an balloon 😉
    Thank you,

  13. So, I have a balloon. I want to go to Paris. But if the home exchanger in the program has no interest or ability to have me stay (and Paris is so popular, this is likely to occur), I can’t force anyone to accept my balloon offer, so what’s the point?

    • Hi Karen, thank you for your question. Balloon Exchanges are simply another option for finding a place to stay, but it is still an Exchange experience. For many Members, it offers additional flexibility in that they don’t have to feel like they are “required” to exchange reciprocally. It is sort of like passing the Exchange torch. As for finding someone in a specific location, as with any type of Exchange, it can take a little luck and the ability to find the right person to approach. For specific help, please feel free to reach out to the Happiness Support Team. They are available 24/7 and can assist you in the process.

  14. Hi,
    I’ve been a member for about seven years and have had about twenty or so great exchanges. However, I really don’t see the attraction of the balloon program. It seems that you are trying to compete with couch surfing or AirBnB. I only do simultaneous exchanges. Non simultaneous makes sense if you have more than one house as some people do. When I couldn’t find a Boston exchange for my daughter’s graduation, a member offered to let me stay with them with no reciprocal obligations. I’ve offered the same to other people, but in general I don’t want to stay with other people when they are home or have them here when I am at home. The home exchange system is ideal but the couch surfing approach doesn’t appeal to me.

    • Hi Ken, thank you for sharing your thoughts. The Program was inspired by several members who expressed an interest in additional flexibility in finding Exchanges. That said, we understand that Balloon Exchanges aren’t for everyone.

      • If you read others’ comments about successful exchanges using balloons, it may make more sense to you.

        We have two offerings, so for us, it has worked well. We had a couple from Canada who wanted to use our Ecuador condo; however, their location, though great for outdoors people, did not suit us at all. They gave us a balloon for their stay without us having to go to Canada. We used our newly acquired balloon for a stay in New Zealand with a couple who were not going to be at home, but visiting family in another city.

        Another exchange was done with a couple who were booked for a cruise so they were not going to be home anyway, but had no intention of visiting Hungary or Ecuador, our two offerings.

        Some people who accept a balloon just may be appreciative of having a house-sitter when they know they will be gone from their home for reasons other than an exchange.

  15. Hi! The balloon system is excellent but more awareness needs to be made. This email is a great step on getting the word out there as a lot of members don’t understand it. I earned 3 balloons this year and it was definitely a bit of work. I do wish everyone received a balloon after their first year of membership renewAl. I don’t find it fair that I didn’t get one after renewing this year simply because I already worked hard to acquire one. Thanks!

    • Hi Danielle! Thank you for taking the time to comment and for the suggestion regarding the gift of Balloons based on renewal. We will take it to the HomeExchange Team. So glad you have found some success with Balloon Exchanges.

  16. In our single experience accepting a balloon in exchange for guests in our home, we felt as if the guests treated the house with less care than in a full exchange, and felt free to bring more friends than we had agreed on. In other words, we felt like a hotel. Also, we are having trouble finding exchanges that will accept a balloon. We won’t do this again.

    • Hi Carol, we are so sorry to hear about your poor experience. Each exchange (Balloon or not) is a unique experience, but we understand that Balloon Exchanges are not for everyone. If you’d like to opt out of the Program, you are able to at any time. Feel free to contact our Happiness Support Team to assist you in the process.

  17. Is there a way to include a search filter that would allow you to screen folks willing to accept a balloon?

  18. Thank you for this article on the Balloon program.

    We have used it twice and have accepted 4 balloon visits.

    What I had never considered is that I can actively seek a balloon holder to stay in our home while we are away. I’ve always waited to be contacted.

    Now I will look for a balloon holder to stay in our home over a long weekend in May while we attend my niece’s wedding. Love it!


  19. How can I actively seek a balloon holder to use my home while it will be empty for two weeks in Spring.

    • Hi Bridget, one of the ways some Members have found success is to add “Home available for Balloon Exchange” in their profile title. It helps to make it clear that you are interested in this type of Exchange. Also, if you aren’t already, we’d recommend joining some of the Members-only Facebook Groups. You can share your listing and explain your timing and who knows what might happen. Visit to find the complete list. Happy Exchanging!

  20. I prefer longer exchanges of 3-5 weeks and after much effort have given up trying to use balloons. I seem to have better luck with non-simultaneous exchanges, or exchanges in which either party may are not reciprocate. I will occasionally let families stay in my home in instances where I do not forsee my staying in their home. I realize it is expensive to travel as a family. Of course, this is easier when you when three homes in which you can stay, are retired, as traveling as a couple.

  21. I have been a HomeExchange member for a little over a year and it has been wonderful! The Balloon program is awesome! I don’t know why people are confused with it? The best thing is that it allows you more freedom to find a place to stay as opposed to Reciporal exchanges. People who has access to a second home or place to stay should entertain Hosting a member in order to receive a Balloon. The Balloon then allows that member to go wherever that want more easily.

    • We find the balloon system fantastic and easy to use. It is a bit hard to find a longer exchange and the majority of people only want a week in exchange for a balloon. We hosted people from China for 3wks but could only get a week in NZ at their second home for the balloon that we earned. However, it is still a great system and an opportunity to visit other countries when they don’t wish to come ‘all the way’ to Australia.
      We only ever send requests to the exchangers that display the balloon symbol on their profile. I feel that is enough of a filter for those wishing to use the balloon system.

      • Thanks for the comment, Margaret! We have been hearing some of that feedback in the past. Glad you have found a way to filter through potential exchanges. Have a great day!

  22. I have recently been trying to do a balloon exchange and have received messages saying they don’t want to do this type of exchange. I support the idea of having a filter for people who are willing to accept a balloon exchange.
    After sending out numerous requests (63) we finally seem to be getting a few positive responses.
    I must say that I like the filter for people with high response rates and appreciate that these members are being so considerate. There is nothing more frustrating than sending a request and hearing nothing.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, Carmen! As you may have seen mentioned, the filter is on the development plan and we hope to announce it in the near future. We are glad you are starting to find some positive responses. Happy Exchanging!

  23. It seems to me that the balloon system is a non-simultaneous exchange that you use with other destinations, not necessarily the home/person you stayed with – like a ‘carry forward’ or ‘credit’.

    I’ve been doing exchanges for years and only did two non-simultaneous exchanges (once in a second home and once in a primary home), because although the simultaneous exchange can be a headache to align holiday dates, a NSE was even more difficult.

    I think it works really well for those who are away from home fairly regularly or who have a second home.

  24. Pingback: Reizen met een Ballon! | HuizenRuil Blog

  25. We have been members for 13 years and completed numerous successful exchanges. We prefer to do simultaneous exchanges as our experience with a non-simultaneous exchange was not good. We had a family of 4 visit our home for 2 weeks when were away on vacation. When I approached them to arrange our part of the exchange they had left Home Exchange and changed their email address. After much effort I managed to contact them but they couldn’t accommodate any of the dates I suggested although they had said they had two homes.
    Living in London I am often offered 2 or 3 balloons a day. When the system first started Home Exchange gifted me and others a balloon to get the balloon system going. I subsequently earned another balloon when a family, who had their travel organised, were let down and I was contacted by Home Exchange as asked if I could accommodate them. Luckily we were away and so we were able to help out. This month I have been able to use a balloon for 12 day exchange in Boston and earned another one for hosting a family for 3 days. I feel a bit of a fraud as the difference in the value is vast. I would prefer balloons to be more of a points system so that the value is more equal. At the moment its a bit like bitcoins and no-one really knows their value.

    • Diane, thank you so much for your comment. We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with Balloons, and we will pass the information onto our Product team for future adjustments. Thank you for being such an enthusiastic part of our community!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *