By putting out your “Welcome” mat, your Exchange Partners will feel more comfortable visiting your home and have a “worry-free” vacation. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself for an exchange.

1. Tidy up your home

Do you prefer to have a home with everything in its place or are you a little more relaxed? Whatever your housekeeping method, it is always best to clarify before you arrange an exchange. Many members prefer to exchange with people who have similar habits as it can make everyone feel more comfortable during their stay. If you are a family with tiny humans, look for homes that are better equipped to handle sticky fingers and offer laundry facilities. Communicating your expectations and needs clearly is a great way to make sure everyone has the best exchange possible.

2. Leave some space

A little room can go a long way when it comes to feeling at home. By making sure your Exchange Partner have plenty of space for their luggage, clothes, and groceries, they will feel all the more welcome. Leave some room in your closets, empty a few drawers, leave plenty of empty hangers and clear enough space in the kitchen for them to store meal-time staples. You can also share which items are moveable and which you would prefer they keep in place. It is also ideal to:

  • Make sure there are enough clean towels and linens for your guests.
  • Stock up on items like toilet paper, bath soap, and cleaning supplies.
  • Store any valuables or lock important items away in a closet.

3. Leave Instructions

When preparing your home for the arrival of your guests, it is helpful to:

  • Leave written directions or an simple guide in a handy place for things like Television remotes, kitchen appliances, WiFi networks, alarm systems, heating units, air conditioners, and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Make a list of names and phone numbers of repair people.
  • Leave simple written instructions for pet and plant care.
  • Ask your post office to hold your mail for you until you return.
  • Temporarily discontinue newspaper delivery.
  • Prepay your bills.
  • Get the lawn mowed, pool cleaned, etc. prior to your Exchange Partner’s arrival.
  • If a car is part of the exchange, leave copies of your car insurance and registration. Also, you might want to get your car tuned up.
  • Make a list of emergency numbers that include your doctor, a nearby hospital or emergency clinic, the fire department, and the police.

4. Share the local flavor

One of the many perks of using home exchange for travel is the ability to “Live Like a Local.” Help give your Exchange Partner an orientation to the area by leaving a city guide with insider information. Here are some items that might help your Exchange partners make the most of their visit:

  • It might seem basic, but where do you do your grocery shopping? If the store a few miles away has a much better selection than the one across the street, your guests will appreciate the information (and directions).
  • Include a range of restaurants, from cheap eats to special nights out (and be upfront about prices). If possible, leave menus for your Exchange Partners from local take-out and delivery restaurants for those nights when cooking or going out both seem like daunting tasks!
  • Find out ahead of time if there are certain types of activities your Exchange partners plan on doing. If they love hiking, print out a local trail map. Into museums? Leave tips on free museum days and upcoming exhibits.
  • If you live in a suburb, include the best ways to get into the city (highway always crowded around rush hour? What’s your secret shortcut?) Your guests will appreciate not having to sit in traffic, and they’ll have more time to enjoy the activities listed in their city guide!
  • Stay away from the stuff in the tour books (chances are your Exchange partner already read those). What are YOUR favorite things to do in your town?

5. A Warm Welcome

A lot of our Members like to leave a small gift for their Exchange Partners. It can be a bottle of wine, breakfast food, some fruits, a simple meal or even a local delicacy. While it isn’t necessary, it is wonderful gesture to help them kick of their exchange.

For more tips on getting your home ready, take a look at this comprehensive checklist.

Are you ready to exchange? Join now and start living like a local.

 

Take a minute and think about what you love about travel. Is it the possibility of discovering something new? A chance to visit places you’ve only imagined? The opportunity to step out of your day-to-day life and live like a local? Now, step into your children’s shoes. Yes, they may be tiny but try to think back and recall what it was like the first time you went on a trip. Any adventure. It could have even just been going to visit an out-of-town family member. Your world expanded as though you were on a quest for hidden treasure.

With HomeExchange, that sense of wonder is an everyday occurrence. Between searching destinations for a possible exchange or receiving an inquiry, the world is at your keyboard (or phone, thanks to our Android and iOS apps). And when kids get involved, the exchange experience takes on a whole new meaning. Here are a few ways that swapping homes can benefit your tiny humans.

Explore something new!


One of the magic things about travel is that the walls of the classroom are left behind. The whole world offers the possibility to learn and discover. Children get to ask questions, meet strangers (with parental supervision of course), and see that a lot more is happening out there that can’t be watched on a screen or found in a book. They are able to walk down the streets of history and experience a different neighborhood or country. Learning becomes all the more real when you live it.

Where will you go?

“Sharing is Caring”


School can teach facts and figures, but it also provides a place for a child to learn life lessons like how to make friends, thinking critically, or playing well with others. Exchange homes is a chance to those skills to good use. There is a possibility that even you might feel a little odd about someone else sleeping in your bed. For a kid, that might be the least of their concerns. They could ask, “What about my toys?!” Here’s where those soft-skills from school come in. By exchanging homes with another family, a whole new set of toys is at the other end of the journey. They might even find their new favorite doll/car/book along the way! We often have Members share the artwork children leave behind thanking their Exchange Partner peer for letting them stay in their room and sharing their things.

Search Family Exchanges

Playtime together


We all get busy at home. There are errands to run, work to do, meals to prep and, of course, play dates, practices and more. And that doesn’t even account for any screen time that may or may not happen. With a HomeExchange, your every day gets left behind. Sure, there are still errands to run but, while on an exchange, they can become a family adventure. Discovering new foods, breaking the rules and have ice cream before dinner, while on a trip schedules can take a backseat. You get to play and be as carefree as your child is. After all, who couldn’t use a little more fun in their life.

No matter how many tips, how much money you save, or the reason behind the trip, the memories you make as a family will be the best souvenirs you could ask for. What do you think? We look forward to hearing what benefits you’ve uncovered through family exchanges.

Take a chance and your adventurous spirit will thank you.

Classic destinations are considered “classic” for a reason. The beaches of California, the culture of Barcelona, the history of London, or the celebrations of Munich all have their place. But when you want an experience that is a little more individual and unique, we recommend taking a look outside the norm and venture to some of these lesser-known regions. Each one is spectacular in its own way and, the best part, there are members of HomeExchange ready to exchange with you. Let’s explore!

Asheville, North Carolina


Located about two hours from Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, the surprisingly temperate, Asheville is positioned in a region that can be enjoyed any time of the year. This unique metropolis is a study in contrasts. It showcases a vibrant architectural cross-section mixing Neoclassical with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles with more modern sensibilities. Through the years, it has become a refuge for artists, political leaders, and more.

To have an authentic “like a local” experience, we asked a few of our Ambassadors to share their thoughts. As Tricia put it, “Asheville has something for everyone: from the beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiast to the patron of the arts looking to enjoy live music and theater. The area has beautiful vistas with plenty of outdoor activities as well as a delicious food scene. You can buy produce from the local farmers’ market, tube down the French Broad River or hike in the mountains, sample many different local craft beers, listen to some live music and have a fantastic meal all in one day.”

With easy access to the stunning outdoors and plenty of activities to keep every member of the family occupied, don’t wait to add Asheville to your travel Bucket List.

Plan your trip to Asheville!

Cantabria, Spain


Like its motto says “Cantabria Infinita,” there is no shortage of things to fall in love with in this stunning region. Tucked between Asturias and the Basque Country, the curious combination of mountain landscapes and gorgeous coastline make Cantabria an ideal destination. Take a trip back in time and discover the impressive prehistoric locations at the Altamira Caves, stroll the coastal towns of San Vicente de la Barquera or Santillana del Mar, or relax on the fantastic sands of Langre. With all there is to do in Cantabria, you might just run short on time.

Discover Cantabria!

County Clare, Ireland


Located on the West Coast of Ireland and surrounded by pockets of rivers, County Clare is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage, and families with children of all ages. With a strong history of traditional music, County Clare is the home of many Ceili Bands with numerous music festivals held throughout the year. From Munster Vales to the Cliffs of Moher to the history-steeped city of Limerick, there is always something to see or do in County Clare.

Find your next exchange in County Clare!

The Black Forest, Germany


Be careful, or you might just become so fascinated with the Black Forest that you might never want to leave. With dark fir forest, picturesque landscapes, and streams rushing through romantic valleys, the area is straight out of storybooks. Bordered by Switzerland and France, the region is known as “Three-Country Corner,” and offers its visitors a wide selection of activities in the heart of Europe. Where else in the world can you find locals wearing traditional dress, taste a delicious cake named after the region, AND visit a world-renowned theme park during one exchange? Between the food, the views, and the people, the Black Forest should be on everyone’s destination list.

Unlock the Black Forest

Yorkshire, England


Known as “God’s own country,” Yorkshire is positioned in the North-Central part of England, is England’s most significant historical county, and is also considered to be among the greenest of counties thanks to its vast areas of unspoiled countryside. Famous names like the Bronte Sisters, Guy Fawkes, David Hockney, and Ed Sheeran have all called this inspiring area home.

Between the food and drink, festivals, and historic destinations Yorkshire has something to offer no matter when you exchange. Sure, it can be a little damp in the Fall and Winter, but that only adds to the beauty the rest of the year.

Discover Yorkshire!

If County Clare isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This county on the West Coast of Ireland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage can enjoy many famous landmarks and iconic sites, and families with children of all ages can enjoy the beaches, caves, and forests to name just a few of the activities available. Sure, it can get a little windy and wet at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” County Clare.

Where is County Clare?

County Clare is on the West Coast of Ireland and surrounded by pockets of rivers. To the southeast you’ll find Ireland’s third longest river, the River Shannon, Lough Derg marks the northeast, Galway Bay in the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. While the weather can be a little hit and miss, ranging from wet and windy to beautiful and sunny, it is Spring to Summer that showcases County Clare to its full glory in bloom!

What is County Clare known for:


With a strong history of traditional music, County Clare is the home of many Ceili Bands including Kilfenora and Tulla Céilí Band, Stockton’s Wing, Sharon Shannon, Noel Hill, Peadar O’Loughlin, Martin Hayes and legendary tin-whistler Micho Russell. Many traditional music festivals are held throughout the year so be prepared to sing and dance along.

What to do in County Clare:


If you’re looking for some active outdoor fun along the “Wild Atlantic Way” consider surfing, abseiling, mountain biking, pony trekking and fishing are all available throughout County Clare. Visit the Munster Vales with its gorgeous mountain ranges linking the counties of Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick and everything in between. The Cliffs of Moher and the beautiful seaside town of Kilkee offer peace, tranquility, and more than its share of beauty.

What to see:


Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet – Join the Earl of Thomond for a glorious banquet at this majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle

The Cliffs of Moher – Visit Ireland’s spectacular natural wonders and be awe-inspired. On a clear day you can see all the way to Galway Bay, the Blasket Islands, the cliffs of Aran and the Maumturk mountains. Simply unmissable.

Doolin Caves – Take an adventure underground and witness the Great Stalactite which suspends like a magnificent grand chandelier. At over 23 feet long and weighing over ten tonnes, prepare to be astounded!

Doolin Music House – This gem of a destination offers an evening of traditional music, history, Irish culinary delights, and storytelling.

Limerick Walking Tours – Explore this amazing city steeped in history.

Big Events:


Mountshannon Arts Festival – held at the end of May, this festival will treat you to traditional music, poetry, dance and a fairy trail walk.

Doolin Folk Festival – For music lovers, this family-friendly festival held in June is one of the places you can attend to listen to a diverse programme of powerful music.

Doonbeg Jazz Festival – If Jazz is more to your taste, go along and get those dancing feet ready to enjoy bands from Scotland, The Netherlands and, of course, from all over Ireland for a weekend of entertainment.

Find your next exchange in County Clare


Photo of The Cliffs of Moher

If Yorkshire isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This county in the North of England is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage, and families with children of all ages. Sure, it can get a little damp at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” Yorkshire.

Where is Yorkshire?

Also known as ‘God’s own country’ Yorkshire is positioned in the North-Central part of England. Yorkshire is England’s largest historical county and is considered to be amongst the greenest of counties in England thanks to its vast areas of unspoilt countryside. The English weather is a little hit and miss, sometimes it is wet and windy, and other days it can be beautiful and sunny but Spring and Summer allow the full glory of Yorkshire to bloom!

What is Yorkshire known for:


From The Brontes in Haworth, Guy Fawkes, poet Ted Hughes, artist David Hockney to singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Yorkshire has its fair share of famous names from the county. Yorkshire sat at the heart of the industrial revolution in England. From Coal mining to the discovery of Stainless Steel in Sheffield, from Textiles to the world’s largest wool factory in Leeds, all offer insights into Yorkshire’s industrial past and present.

What to do in Yorkshire:

If you’re looking for some active outdoor fun you can find plenty of abseiling, mountain biking, pony trekking, and fishing throughout Yorkshire. Wander the history steeped streets of ancient York or visit one of the many National Trust parks where you can hike one of the many paths along the Pennine Way or in the stunning Yorkshire Dales and be overwhelmed by the beauty of the hills.

What to see:


Yorkshire Dales National Park – A place of outstanding scenery if you are looking for peace, tranquility, and beauty.

Visit one of Yorkshire’s National museums – Try Eureka, the interactive children’s museum in Halifax or Magna, the Science museum in Sheffield to guarantee some family fun whilst learning too.

Turkish baths in Harrogate – Take a tour around the famous Roman baths in Harrogate and treat yourself to a health spa experience.

Visit York – the ancient walled city where you can explore the Roman, Viking and Medieval history.

Big Events:


Yorkshire Food and Drink Show – Join foodies for a display of live cookery displays, street food, local produce, real ales, and cocktails. Free entry!

Bolton Abbey – Visit the abbey and enjoy the Open Air Cinema event they are holding this summer with the backdrop of the stunning Priory ruins.

Deershed Festival – For music lovers, this family-friendly July festival is one of the places to see your favorite artists and enjoy camping/glamping or sleeping under the stars!

Explore Yorkshire for yourself!


Photo of Yorkshire

Whatever sort of travel adventure you are looking for, take a look at Asheville. This gem of an area is tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and features a diverse collection of culture, nature, and culinary delights. Join us on our journey to “unlock” Asheville.

Where is Asheville?

Located about two hours from Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, the surprisingly temperate, Asheville is positioned in a region that can be enjoyed any time of the year. With temperatures rarely exceeding 80°F (27°C) in the summer, you can bask in the sun of July or return during the colder times. Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, while Asheville itself only receives a dusting, the surrounding area features plenty of winter activities.

What is Asheville known for:

This unique metropolis is a study in contrasts. It showcases a vibrant architectural cross-section mixing Neoclassical with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles with more modern sensibilities. Through the years, it has become a refuge for artists, statesmen, and more. It has thrived in recent years with the revival of its downtown and the constant competition with Portland, ME to prove superiority in the realm of beer brewing.

Outside of the city, nature beckons. With the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you occupied. Golfing, hiking, tubing, kayaking, skiing and more are close enough you can easily enjoy multiple adventures in a single day. Or take a stroll through the forest during the autumn months and bask in the blaze of fall colors as the impossibly green trees honor each of the four seasons.

What to do:

To have an authentic “like a local” experience, we asked a few of our Ambassadors to share their thoughts. As Tricia put it, “Asheville has something for everyone: from the beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiast to the patron of the arts looking to enjoy live music and theater. The area has beautiful vistas with plenty of outdoor activities as well as a delicious food scene. You can buy produce from the local farmers’ market, tube down the French Broad River or hike in the mountains, sample many different local craft beers, listen to some live music and have a fantastic meal all in one day.”

Explore for your next favorite read at the Battery Park Book Exchange, grab a cup of coffee (and learn a thing or two) at Counter Culture Coffee or take a stroll along the River Arts District and discover some incredible artisan work.

Here are a few other suggestions:
Hit the Blue Ridge Parkway: This extended 469-mile drive has not only scenic it has also been named “America’s Favorite Drive.” Grab a bike and take to the trails. No matter what skill level, there’s a track for you.

Seek out Waterfalls: A visit to Dupont State Forest in Brevard allows for the view of multiple falls or jump over to the “Land of Waterfalls” and visit Transylvania County.

Share some Tweets: Birders from all around flock to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. It’s the ideal location to grab some binoculars and practice your bird watching skills.

Discover the North Carolina Arboretum: For over 30 years, this public garden continues to inspire and entertain all who visit. It’s a perfect place to hike and bike for families of all ages and sizes (including those four-legged family members).

What to see:


Explore the Biltmore Estate: A visit to the winter chateaux of George Vanderbilt is an experience you are sure to remember. Especially if you upgrade to the “rooftop tour.”

Visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: While not in Asheville, this national park is a worth a visit. It is actually the most visited of all the parks according to Park Services.

Big Events:


Shindig on the Green: Every Saturday of summer, starting at sundown, locals and tourists alike make their way to Pack Square Park to enjoy a free glimpse into the Appalachian culture. Enjoy bluegrass music, take in some dancing and even pick up some clogging techniques.

The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival: the first weekend of August brings out the very best of local music and dancing.

Find the beat of a Drum Circle: Every Friday night Pack Square Park comes alive with the beat of many drums. Find your rhythm and experience this Asheville tradition.

“Everyone is so genuinely friendly here. It’s surrounded by so much gorgeous scenery that you can see it from almost any street, even from downtown. The general atmosphere is a blend of laid-back and sophistication – casual, yet cosmopolitan.” Bonnie

There is so much to see in Asheville that we have only just scratched the surface of the area. If you have suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about your next exchange experience.

Visit Asheville now!

While globally recognized days such as Earth Day (April 22) are vital, we know that the biggest impact, ecologically speaking, can be made by adjusting how we live our daily lives. We also know that, when traveling, thinking “green” can be a challenge. Thankfully, when going on an adventure through HomeExchange, we are already doing a small part. Here are just a few ways you can extend your eco-impact:

1. Think Energy-Efficient

“Going green” happens before you even leave for your exchange. By switching to LED light bulbs, utilizing reusable batteries, or having Energy Star appliances you’ll do your part in helping the environment and also save you money.

2. Travel Direct

If possible, whether by car, train or plane, take the most direct route to get to your destination. Airplanes use the most fuel during takeoff and landing, so the fewer vehicles you have to take to get there, the better. To make your travel even greener, consider purchasing carbon offsets to help neutralize the emissions used while on your exchange.

3. Pack Light

When confirming your exchange, make a point to check in with your Exchange Partner about some travel essentials. Are you visiting during a rainy season? No need to pack an umbrella when you can utilize one from the home you’re staying at! Heading towards the beach? Ask if they have specific towels that are “beach ready.”

We have a whole list of things you can leave at home thanks to HomeExchange (see you later hair dryer!). In the end, the less you bring with you, the more fuel-efficient you will be along the way.

4. Shop Local, Think Global

We know that shopping at local establishments is one of the best ways to not only get to know your destination better but also to support the local economy. Purchasing goods that are from the region helps to cut down on shipping costs, supports small business, and gives back to the area you’re visiting. An added perk; you can ask the merchants for recommendations and expand your “live like a local” experience.

5. Bag It

Whether going for a long weekend or for an extended trip, a reusable shopping bag is always helpful to have along. It will not only cut down on the use of plastic or paper bags from vendors at the farmers’ markets and grocery stores, but it can also act as a tote bag for activities while on your Exchange. This is another item to talk to your Exchange Partner about to see if they have bags that they use for shopping.

6. Free Refill?

Taking a BPA-free plastic, unbreakable glass, or metal water bottle is a great way to not only stay hydrated but also to keep from purchasing pricey single-use water. In fact, the Earth Day Network‘s initiative for 2018 is to help end plastic pollution. We can all do our part.

7. Keep Water Usage in Check

Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and it is also one of the things hotels are known for wasting the most of. By opting to use a HomeExchange, you reduce the number loads of laundry that are required to offer fresh linens every day. Also, when given an option, choose for a shower over a bath. They tend to use about a third of the water required to fill up a tub.

When it comes to “going green,” every little bit makes a difference. You don’t have to completely retrofit your house to prove you love Mother Nature. Though you can always opt to exchange with some of the listings in our Eco-Homes Collection to take your eco-living up a notch. We know we have just scratched the services, so we turn to you! What other eco-tips and tricks to you do while traveling? Let us know in the comments below.

Whether you visit for Earth Day or any other day of the year, an Exchange to one of these globally recognized sustainable destinations is sure to be an experience to remember.

Stockholm, Sweden


With over a third of the city’s land green space, it is no wonder that Stockholm was the inaugural city to be named the European Green Capital back in 2010. With sustainability planning dating back to the 1970s, the city has the goal to be free of fossil fuel by 2050. Between the recycling programs, the public transportation and the easy access to bikes, Stockholm is a role model to cities everywhere on how dedication to the environment can have a huge impact.
Visit Stockholm

San Francisco, California, USA


With a mission to become a “zero waste” city within the next few years, San Francisco paves the way for green cities in the US. Back in 2007, they banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags and continues to push policies that encourage the use of renewable energy. Between its extensive parks and the ever-improving public transportation system, San Francisco is a place to leave your heart and experience a more environmentally sound way of living.
Visit San Francisco

Bristol, United Kingdom


Over 450 parks and green spaces are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes explaining how eco-friendly Bristol has become. It is the only city in the U.K. to hold the title of European Green Capital (back in 2015), and it’s not hard to see why. The area, with all its nature, has become a haven for eco-entrepreneurs, sustainable farming, and culinary delights which utilize farm-to-table methods. Topping the list of as one of the most “livable cities,” being green goes beyond a cause and turns into a way of life.
Visit Bristol

Copenhagen, Denmark


Dubbed one of the happiest places to live in on Earth, Copenhagen is also a world leader in sustainability. It is so ingrained in society that, last year, over 50% of the city’s population rode their bikes to and from work or school. That is just one step in its quest to be carbon neutral by 2025. Grab a bike and discover the Danish capital’s impressive history of utilizing wind power, promoting solar panels, and the remarkable reduction in using fossil fuels.
Visit Copenhagen

Singapore


In a city with eyes of the future, Singapore works hard to cultivate and maintain its “greenness.” Its sprawling Botanic Gardens is the first of its kind to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Between the solar power-harvesting Supertrees and the over 162,000 plants, the Gardens by the Bay marks an essential effort in respecting ecology today while planning for the tomorrow.
Visit Singapore

Sydney, Australia


The sun and the sights are a huge draw for this coastal city. That is just part of what makes Sydney one of the most impressive eco-friendly metropolises in the world. After reinventing its concrete container wharf into an award-winning parkland featuring native flora and becoming the first city to be certified as carbon neutral by the Australian National Carbon Offset Standard, Sydney has transformed into a go-to location for green business and travel. In many ways, the cities environmental efforts are becoming almost as famous as the iconic Opera House, and that’s saying something.
Visit Sydney

Nijmegen, Netherlands


While it might not be known the world-over, Nijmegen has the honor of being the European Green Capital for 2018. Disputably the oldest city in the Netherlands (2,000 years and going strong), the efforts of the citizens to become a recognized leader in sustainability are continuing to develop and proves that old cities not only can learn to adapt but are enthusiastic about the potential it holds. Discover the area for yourself.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a special shout-out to bike-loving Amsterdam as well. There is no doubt that their passion for the environment goes way beyond two wheels.
Visit Nijmegen

As the global necessity for sustainability becomes an increased priority, it is encouraging to see so many influential cities embracing the call. Do you feel like we missed an important one? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We look forward to reading your suggestions.