First-Time Home Exchange Tips from First-Time HomeExchangers

Arranging your first home exchange is exciting, but some old habits and concerns die hard, even as new ones are being born. These six reminders from recent first-time HomeExchangers help put important first-time experiences into context.

Reminder: You’re Saving Money

HomeExchange makes it possible to visit places you might not otherwise believe you can afford. Open your mind to new possibilities, especially those that are old set-aside dreams.

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Our first home exchange was in 2012, in Toronto. It was really easy to arrange the exchange; we reached a deal in a week. Our exchange partner, Anna, lent us her car so we really minimized our expenses and were able to go to Niagara Falls. She also left a full fridge and some metro tickets. We are still in touch with her today. If we had had to pay for all of this, it would have cost us a lot of money, as Canada is an expensive destination. We recommend to everyone who loves to travel to join HomeExchange because they will not only save money, but also travel more often.
Vlatko, Croatia

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I got to travel to Europe for my 30th birthday celebration almost completely for free. All I paid was my food and excursion expenses. I flew round­trip on airline miles and I stayed at my new HomeExchange friend’s place, Oliver’s loft, in Paris! It was a gorgeous artist loft. There were three balconies, all with windows, overlooking a large park and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Staying for nine days in Paris would have broken the bank. Especially in a place this spacious and dreamy!
Amanda, USA


Reminder: Unlock Trust

Embrace the trust, generosity and goodwill that exemplify the HomeExchange community. Travel with confidence to places that might previously have given you second thought.

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Our first exchange was very special, because we went to the house of an English family in London. At the time, they were in the United States, so we did not meet them and they sent us the keys of their home by mail. We arranged all of the details by email. And our stay in London was both wonderful and memorable. The following year, when the English family was with us in Portugal, we asked them whether they were afraid of having strangers in their own home while they were absent. They responded that they know there are bad people in the world, but they also believe that there are a lot more good people.
Octávio, Portugal


Reminder: Get Local Advice

Through HomeExchange, you can live like a local, with the shared wisdom of locals to guide you. Don’t discount trips to places you have thought could be hard to get a real feel for.

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We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children) and we exchanged our house for the first time this year with a Spanish family from Mallorca. For us, it was a very nice first home exchange experience, a unique opportunity to discover this island like a local. Our hosts had left us a list of their favorite addresses and favorite beaches, and a family member even came to pick us up at the airport. We were a bit apprehensive about the crowds in Mallorca, but we discovered another side of this island: more authentic, with pretty villages, beautiful coves and small local delights. That said, our children felt so good about the house that they didn’t want to leave it, as they were determined to take advantage of all available games. Besides, there was even a swimming pool. For this first exchange, I was amazed at the ease and simplicity with which we concluded everything. It requires a lot of confidence and there’s a bit of apprehension, but the idea of leaving our home very quickly disappeared.
Sophie, France


Reminder: Welcome Opportunity

When planning a vacation, sometimes you hit more obstacles than opportunities. Once you’ve posted your listing on HomeExchange, the first challenge you may face is one of choice.

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After signing up, we were offered so many exchanges that in 10 days we had already booked all of our holidays. We chose the destinations we prefered (two of them on the beach and another one in Europe in a region we didn’t yet know) and we said no to deals with the other families.
Tatiana, Spain


Reminder: Stay Flexible

The right place at the right is every traveler’s perfect pair. With HomeExchange, the time-place combo is always right… if you’re open to suggestion. Consider them all!

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Our first home exchange is done! It is only my first exchange, but I am excited! My husband and I wanted very much to return to Paris to show it to our two children (17 and 10). We agreed on a non-simultaneous exchange with a Parisian family who would come to us at Christmas. At that time, we met them, as it was easier to entrust our home and our cat, Bezel, to them. Then, in August, we went to Paris. Since we wanted to stay longer, we agreed on another exchange (this one simultaneous). So we stayed in two different homes in two different areas of the city, but both very well connected. It was a wonderful experience.
Michela, Italy


Reminder: Make Family Memories

When families travel, it can be tough (for parents and kids) to leave all the advantages of home. But you’re always “home” with HomeExchange. Don’t forego making great family travel memories.

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When our first daughter was born in 2010, we felt that the standard way of travelling was not possible anymore. Then, by chance, I came across an article in a Czech journal about different types of travel based on sharing and I knew it was a solution for our new situation. We arranged our first exchange in 2013, to Galicia, Spain, which I had visited 10 years before as a volunteer working on the site of an ecological disaster. We were very happy with our exchange experience and continued, later accompanied by our second daughter as well. We teach our children about respect for other people’s possessions and try to show them different ways of life.
Lenka, Czech Rep

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Our first home exchange was a revelation for us, complete with marvelous family memories: our children playing with the kids in the neighborhood; returning from a stroll to a home perfectly suited for our family, with space for all and even toys. After that first exchange, we have never traveled any other way. Each time, there are incredible family moments and encounters. Sometimes we have met with our exchange partner families and, despite the language barriers, our children have found a way to share. Now, whenever we spend a night in a hotel, my son asks “Mom, whom did we exchange homes with to come here?”
Elodie, France

11 Comments on “First-Time Home Exchange Tips from First-Time HomeExchangers

  1. Forgot to mention “Non-Simultaneous Helpers”. We are not in a position to do non-simultaneous exchanges by ourselves, because our home is not big enough to share privacy. So we invented “Non-Simeltaeous Helpers”, a list of our good friends who will put us up for a week or two to enable non-simultaneous exchanges. We make it like a fun sleep-over or a camping trip. We repay them in-kind by putting them up for their non-simultaneous exchanges if they want, or with entertainments, or dinners at our best restaurants, or by accompanying us on an exchange.

  2. I was hoping that you would include some house keeping tips in your notes.
    We have exchanged 4 times of which two were wonderful it other 2 were not clean or acceptable. One was so dirty and bad that I complained to the company upon our return.
    I do not understand how someone could think that dirty wornout sheets and blankets with patches of dirt and foot prints and towels and bath mats that have never been washed and rusted pots and pans and an antique toasrer that starts a fire every time used is an acceptable norm.
    How about adding a question about the cleanliness and opening the line of coversation About that subject. I do understand that people have different perceptions of cleanliness. But there must be a happy medium somewhere.
    Many thanks
    Farrokh

    • Hi Farrokh,
      We focused more on the “Experience” part for these first-time tips. We agree, cleanliness is REALLY important. And we say yes, challenge accepted: We’re going to prepare a blog post with some practical recommendations and “exchange partners etiquette” for first time exchangers 🙂

  3. Reminder: Open Your Mind to Multiple Exchanges at one time!
    Our very first exchange was with a woman in Paris, but she was off on a world adventure and would not be staying at our place. We wanted an exchanger to stay in our place because it would be available for a month. What to do? We opened our place to another couple also coming from Paris, so technically, we had the option for TWO places to stay in Paris.
    Susan and Robert
    San Francisco, California

  4. Hello: Our hosts were very well off, so did not use public transportation, but gave us very unrealistic, low prices for cabs and poor info about bus transportation in their city. Cabs were super expensive and the bus passed by once every 1 /12 hours, but on no real fixed schedule.
    The owners also underestimated the heat and humidity of their country, and we were literally sick from the heat…it made for a very challenging time.

    Owners should be able to provide realistic local info to their visitors.

    Luckily we hooked up with Uber, which saved our vacation – the drivers were helpful with local coss and customs and destinations, but also very affordable. We will use Uber everwhere we travel now.

    Having said all of that, we would not have missed this destination. It was historical and fascinating.

    Susan

  5. As an experienced exchanger (20 or so previous exchangers) we’re about to exchange with a first timer and I think it’s also up to us to make sure it’s a first time experience they’ll never forget. That means being generous, being flexible, giving them the confidence it will work well. Home exchange is great for saving money but we don’t have to let that dictate our whole experience and I’ve found that our generosity has been paid back many times over through people’s reciprocal kindness and continued friendships.

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