The McCaleb family live in Tucson AZ, have been exchanging for 10 years and are proud members at HomeExchange.com. When people ask them why they travel so much, they simply tell them they “Home Exchange ”.
Here is a typical conversation I would have with someone after telling them we “Home Exchange”…
Really?! You let strangers stay in your home?!
Well, yes, we do. But by the time of the home exchange, we hardly feel like strangers anymore. We’ve been exchanging information via email and phone, finding out from one another what would enhance their visit, and letting them know what we hope to see and do in their area. For the most part a HomeExchanger is vested in their guests having a great experience. Some of our HE’ers have gone to great lengths to show us a good time. Some examples are, making reservations, leaving passes or admission tickets for us and arranging private tours at places we’d never be able to have seen or experienced otherwise: an exclusive restaurant reservations with personal attention from the chef; Personal driver and live-in housekeeper & chef; A private tour of the Lamborghini factory in Italy; And a personal hands-on visit in Lexington KY with American Pharaoh, the world’s most winningest race horse. I tell naysayers that the concept is based on a mutual trust and respect. You are staying in their home, and they are in your home. That reciprocity results in a desire to both please our guests, as well as to BE a good guest.
OK, but isn’t it creepy to have someone staying in your home that you’ve never met? I mean, they sleep in your bed! And they could go through your private affairs.
To that I say… Well, think of how many strangers have slept in that hotel bed you stay in ☺ And though I understand it’s not 100% foolproof, typically the home we are interested in staying in demonstrates a certain degree of stability and responsibility on the part of the owners. We aren’t foolhardy, we do have a closet that we lock up our private papers, and I do take valuable jewelry to safety deposit box – that’s only smart. But in all the years we’ve been exchanging, we’ve never had a problem of any sort.
What condition is the home when you return?
Typically the only tell tale sign that someone has been in our home is a food item left in the fridge, or a note and/or a gift left on the island. Home Exchangers are typically very careful to return household items to their original spots and to clean up after themselves. Usually I have our housekeeper come as we depart our home and before our guests have arrived; and the opposite on the tail end. However, there have been times when the housekeeper couldn’t come on the tail end. Discussing your expectations and your willingness to strip beds or change sheets, or put used towels in the laundry room, or run a load of sheets/towels before departure, makes for an easy return home on both parts.
Isn’t it a lot of work to find a suitable home?
Some of our home exchanges have occurred with very little effort, and others have taken a fair amount of time searching. But honestly, it’s all fun. The trick is to maximize the views your home gets by posting attractive photos and describing why one would want to visit your home, your city and your part of the country. I love opening my email and seeing an exchange request. It’s easy to simply say no if it’s not of interest or the timing doesn’t work. The “Search Homes” feature provides numerous filters that narrow down the choices and allows me to see just those properties that fit the bill, such as number of bedrooms, baths, city or rural environment, area activities, etc. And the “Reverse Search” shows you HE members who are interested in coming to your area, and even when they might be interested in a home exchange.
Wouldn’t it just be simpler to stay in a hotel?
I guess that’s not the right question. The better question is Why do you find Home Exchange so appealing? And to that question there are myriad answers:
This marks our 10th anniversary as Home Exchangers. We have been able to provide our family with 15+ exchanges, ranging from long weekends to two-week stays; domestic and international. Some of our favorite exchanges have been to Mexico, Italy, France, England, Canada, and many of our U.S. exchanges. We have met many wonderful people throughout the years and are fortunate to call quite a few of them friends. Our youngest of three kids is now 21 and my husband and I are talking about the possibilities HomeExchange.com offers us in the future. We look forward to traveling with other couples and friends, as well as the prospect of long-term exchanges in retirement. HomeExchange may not be for everyone, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.