You have registered on HomeExchange and started imagining all those places in the world you’d love to visit. You have gotten hooked, little-by-little and, after several inquiries and a few requests, the time you hoped for has finally arrived: you have officially confirmed your exchange! Now that you have that “yes” from your Exchange Partner; What’s next?
Here are a few tips so that, by the time the date of your exchange arrives, you are more than ready.
1 – Confirm your Exchange through the HomeExchange
Once you have confirmed and completed your exchange, it will register in your profile and appear in the “Exchanges” tab. You can also leave a message in your partner’s Guestbook and have them write in yours as well. It is an excellent way for other members of HomeExchange to see the exchanges you made and read comments to get to know you better. More importantly, when you register your exchange, it means that the HomeExchange team can help out if you happen to need it.
2 – Review and confirm private exchange agreement
While it isn’t a requirement, HomeExchange does recommend using and completing an official Exchange Agreement. We have created a sample agreement for you to use that cover most of the bases. Make a point to dive into all the things that are a top priority for you and that you want to make sure are reflected for both sides of the exchange.
3 – Stay in touch before your exchange
How often you want to connect is up to you. It is by no means necessary that you talk every day, but the confidence between you and your Exchange Partner will only increase as you get to know one another better. Use this time to discuss various specifics of the exchange: how will you collect keys, what’s the best way to get to your homes from the airport, will you meet in person (before or after the exchange), who is a contact person for each destination, the list can go on. You might even share your flight information once they are booked.
Communication makes all the difference in maximizing the HomeExchange experience. Don’t hesitate to go through any questions you might have regarding your Exchange Partner, the house, the destination, the family, or anything else!
4 – Set a time to talk or have a video call
If the timing works, make a point to arranged a video session, whether through Skype, Facetime or any other service! Have children that are coming along? Having them participate is a fantastic way for them to be a part of the experience and even ask a few questions you hadn’t thought to ask. You could also use this time for a guided video tour of your home!
We know that sometimes language can be a barrier, so another option is to exchange phone numbers and stay connected through WhatsApp. That way you can confirm last minute details in the days leading up to the exchange, or even let your partner know if there are any delays while traveling. It can also be fun to share some photos or experience of travels!
5 – Make or review your home guide
Every home has a personality of its own and sometimes (often) it helps to have a guide to detail those instructions, quirks, tricks that you know for years of experience. Have a particular way to cool your home in the summer? Does the water take a while to get hot? Detailing these things can make the difference between enjoyment and frustration. We even recommend sending it to your Exchange Partner in advance, so that they have some time to review it and ask questions. Other things to potentially include: how the appliances work (especially if the buttons are in another language), what is the password for the wifi, how does garbage go out. If you have pets, this is a great place to include any information they need to know, including the name and number for your vet. Need a little help? Read this article to get you started.
6 – Create a list of recommendations
You know your city. Top places to visit, the best restaurants for different occasions, the nearest (or favorite) grocery stores or park and playgrounds for the tiny humans to play. Once you get to know your Exchange Partner a little more, you can give a personalized list of things that you are sure they will love. As we all know, there is nothing better than having a local tour guide!
Other information to include: plumber, hospitals or emergency numbers as well as taxis and additional practical information that someone may want to have on hand quickly in case of an emergency.
7 – Prepare your home
As your exchange date approaches, make a point to double check that your home is “Exchange Ready”. A little cleaning and tidying up can go a long way. Top thing to do: make room in the closets, cupboards, and refrigerator for your Exchange Partner. Even a small amount of space makes a difference. If you want some extra help, we have pulled together this guide to help you stay on top of things.
8 – Put out the “Welcome” mat
No matter the distance they are traveling, having a little something prepared to greet your Exchange Partner is an added treat. You might want to have some food ready for their arrival (a traditional meal from your area, perhaps) or maybe a letter or gift for the children visiting. Whatever you choose, the effort goes a long way to making your Exchange Partner feel at home.
9 – Relax and enjoy!
In the end, make the most of the experience and enjoy every moment! HomeExchange is built on trust. With proper communication and transparency, you and your Exchange Partner will not only feel welcomed but at home during your exchange. After all, isn’t that what this is all about?
When all is said and done, it all comes down to communication. Are there certain questions or topics you make sure to bring up when preparing for an exchange? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Do you hear that sound? It’s the open road, and it is calling your name.
Like apple pie and the Statue of Liberty, few things are quite freeing and “American” as a good road trip. We explored Europe earlier this year, but when it comes to a continent as vast as North America, there are almost too many options! That’s where we come in. As dedicated “road warriors” who have found their way from sea to shiny sea, were are a few of our favorite routes that are just waiting for you to explore.
Get your kicks!
Let’s start with the classic: Route 66. This legendary highway is an impressive 2,448-miles long and spans 8 states and 3 time zones. That’s a lot of road no matter how long you have to travel, so don’t feel as though you have to see every inch of pavement to get a complete experience. Going from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, whatever portion of the highway you find yourself on will be perfect for the memory books. Just know, that since “the Main Street of America” was officially “retired” from the highway system in 1985, it can take a little planning to stay on track.
Side-trips and stop points: Santa Monica Pier, Grand Canyon National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, the Cadillac Ranch, World’s (Second) Largest Rocking Chair, the 66 Drive-in Theater, St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Murals of Pontiac, Illinois, Grant Park & the Route 66 start/end point!
Coastal Cruising in California
Is there anything as ubiquitous with the Golden State as driving? Sure, there can be traffic here or there (sorry, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but you know it’s true) but with such a vast state, there is plenty to explore. Let’s stick to the coast and discover the Pacific Coast Highway. This roadway is just waiting for you to investigate it. Going from San Diego to the north of San Francisco, the beach-side road offers something for everyone. Want to surf? There are plenty of places to “hang ten.” Hoping to taste some food and wine? Prepare your tastebuds! Bringing the kids along? Who needs technology when there are tidepools and a world-class aquarium to discover.
Optimal Length of Trip: 1-2 weeks
Top hubs along the way: San Francisco, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Juan Capistrano.
Side-Trips and Stop Points: The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bixby Canyon Bridge, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, and Disneyland.
Bonus tip: Want to experience a little more fun on the road? Add another week to your trip and head north and explore the gorgeous rocky coast of Oregon and the majestic rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Want to experience a little more fun on the road? Add another week to your trip and head north and explore the gorgeous rocky coast of Oregon and the majestic rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Navigate New England
No matter what time of year, there is something transportive about the rolling hills, sprawling forests and rocky coastline of history-soaked New England. Hit the mountains for skiing, grab a microbrew and lobster roll (or chowder) in exploding culinary scene, or explore a town that oozes with pride. Whichever direction you go, there is sure to be something fantastic for you to discover. That said, if you can schedule your adventure during the autumn months, your travels will become a kaleidoscope of colorful memories that are sure to stay with you for years to come.
Optimal Length of Trip: 2-3 weeks
Top hubs: Boston, Providence, Burlington, and Portland
Side-Trips and Stop Points: Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, Salem, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, Mystic Seaport, Mount Washington, and Lake Champlain.
Deep Southern Charm
From the hospitality to the variety of experiences, traversing the southern states can be an all-encompassing exploit. Time spent on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Coast are coupled with a rowdy romp in “The Big Easy” and tempered with the easy down-home vibes of Savannah. Walk through the essential (though contentious) moments United States history while immersing yourself in the beautiful but complicated settings while the hum of the cicadas offer a soundtrack to your wonderings. Just remember – humidity is real and it can be intense, so plan accordingly.
Need a little extra help to prepare for your trip? We created a guide to help you plan your adventure.
With a land a vast and as varied as the United States, we know there are many other routes we could feature. What are some of your favorite destinations? Tell us in the comments below and we might explore them in an upcoming article.
No matter the season, there are always new members becoming a part of the HomeExchange community. With each one of them comes an exciting new collection of homes and places to discover. If that’s not enough to get you energized, here are a few more reasons why you should review (and bookmark) our New Listings Collection.
Each and every day someone new opens the door to become a part of HomeExchange. They add their home to the 65,000+ listings that span the globe and encompass more than 150 countries. And their homes can be explored in the New Listings Collection. This automatically updated category includes all the apartments, houseboats, second homes, tree houses and more that have expanded the community in the last 30 days. That collection regularly exceeds 2,000 listings from all over the world!
You Get a First Look!
It is hard to deny that there is a rush that comes from being the first at something. Whether it is winning a race or getting that promotion, being “first” can be a badge of honor. With HomeExchange it is no different. When you search the New Listings Collection, you could find yourself among the first people to consider a home that is newly available for exchange. There is a good chance that you might unearth the ideal place for your next adventure – did you see that ski-in chalet in Switzerland? What about the treehouse in the rainforests of Costa Rica? – your inquiry might be the first of many received by the new member, and your carefully (and enthusiastically) worded request might mean you become the front-runner in having your choice of exchange dates.
They’re Right There
You may have noticed that at HomeExchange, we try to make it as easy as possible for you to travel anywhere and stay for free. That is just one of the reason why we assemble collections that group homes around specific themes. Not only do they remove the need for filtered searches but, to find new listings, all you have to do is click on the New Listings Collection. Here you can search for a particular location, sort the list by the number of bedrooms, or even show the listings that interested in exchanging with someone in your area. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
You Are Already Ahead of the Game
Do you remember what it was like to be the new kid at school? How much you wanted someone to welcome you and introduce you to their friends? The same can be true for new members. They are primed and eager for inquiries and, because of that, they tend to respond quickly. They have just decided to take the plunge and join our community and are waiting to see who might be interested in their home. During a new member’s first month, they are more likely to check their inbox for inquiries regularly and are usually more flexible with dates because they want to experience the benefits of home exchange.
Plus, you get the bonus of helping to introduce the new members to our community. As we said, everyone can be a little nervous in the beginning. Even if you aren’t able to finalize an exchange right now, you might be able to offer some tips, suggestions, and help them feel a little more, well, at home!
Catch Them While You Can!
To help keep things fresh, the New Listings Collection is automatically updated so that everything is less than 30 days old. That means that every day there could be someone who recently joined while there are others just about to graduate from the collection. That means there is a limited time for you to find and reach out to these members before they ease into the broader community. Act quickly to connect with them. And don’t worry, if you didn’t find what you were looking for today, there is always tomorrow. Chances are there could be dozens, if not hundreds, of new places just waiting for you to discover.
Need Some Inspiration?
Here are a few new listings from the last 30 days.
Eden Prairie, MN
If you have any questions about the New Listings Collection or anything else, feel free to ask them in the comments below or by contacting our Happiness Support Team. We are always thrilled to hear from you.
Is your big vacation still too far in the future? Don’t let that slow down your traveling spirit! Plan a last-minute weekend getaway with HomeExchange!
Looking to get into “vacation mode” but can’t quite make a long-distance trip? Don’t worry! Instead of taking a ton of time off (and spending plenty of money), why not explore some locations that are easy to reach? By taking a weekend to discover some of the destinations closer to home, it will take less time to get there and give you more time to relax. What’s not to love about that?
We know that many people think HomeExchange is only for extended trips, requiring weeks if not months of planning. That’s not always the case! In fact, thanks to our search features, you can explore all the members who are interesting in “last minute” exchanges by simply checking “last minute” in your search criteria. Want to know more? Here’s the process:
- Select a destination; ideally, someplace that is close enough that you can get there within an hour or so and still feel like you are “getting away.”
- Click the “More Filters” button to refine your search.
- Select “Exchange Type” and click “Last Minute” or “Weekend Exchange.”
- Explore, decided and message!
How easy is that?
Still in need of some inspiration? Search through our Last Minute Collection. This ready-made list is constant update and only includes members who have more flexibility or are interested in a more spontaneous exchange. Many of these listings are second homes, which means excellent versatility when it comes dates for an exchange along with the option for non-reciprocal exchanges.
If you are new to HomeExchange, using a weekend getaway as a first exchange is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the community. We recommend turning the “Last Minute” feature in your profile on to show that you’re also interested in hosting for this type of exchange. That way you get the full HomeExchange experience, AND your entire trip will cost you as little as a tank of gas. If you do a reciprocal exchange, you and your exchange partner will likely be crossing paths, why not take the time to meet halfway or welcome each other as you arrive/depart? There’s a good chance that your new friendship will be one of the things you’ll remember most about your exchange.
With HomeExchange it is easy to find the ideal escape without having to spend outrageous prices on last minute accommodation. We have a community of over 65,000 homes available around the world that are sure to satisfy your craving for travel.
So what are you waiting for? Store up those frequent flyer miles and discover a nearby gem. The fun and freedom of a quick getaway will leave you recharged and ready for your next exchange!
Find your next Weekend Vacation!
It isn’t unusual for members who live in some of our most popular destinations to get over 100 requests at a time. Sure, you can stand out in the crowd by utilizing personalized messages and being in a location that they want to visit, but even still, it can be a process to secure an exchange.
If you have some destination flexibility, you might want to try one of these fantastic alternatives.
Looking at New York? Try Boston
Rich with culture (and members), “Beantown” is an ideal option to explore if you can’t quite make the Big Apple happen. With over 200 members in the area, you’ll have plenty of options to explore. Go where everyone knows your name and visit Cheers, ride a “Duck” boat, or even take a side trip out to the Cape. If you have your heart set on the New York experience, there are also plenty of reasonably quick (and affordable) ways to get from Boston to NYC to help make your dreams a reality.
Searching in London? Discover Edinburgh
The banks of the river Thames calling your name but can’t quite answer the call? Give Edinburgh a chance. The city is more compact with a bit more hills, but it is easy enough to get around. Plus, with the rest of Scotland in your “backyard,” you will be hard-pressed to run out of things to do and see.
Hoping for the lights of Paris? Try Brussels
While few places can compare to the “City of Lights,” it’s Belgian cousin can offer the delightful blend of cultures with almost 150 members. Dive into the food, explore the history or catch a train and take adventures to many of the lovely areas in the vicinity. Plus, who can say no to the mouth-wateringly delicious waffles, frites, and beer. Your taste buds will thank you.
Going crazy looking in Los Angeles? Look at San Diego
The first thing to know when looking for an exchange in Los Angeles is that it is vast. That probably isn’t a surprise but no matter where you go, be prepared for sitting in traffic. That’s why we recommend going a little further south and checking out San Diego. With almost 300 members, this delightful city offers a host of excitement. Spend the day at the zoo and explore Balboa Park, take in the beaches or discover the thriving micro-brewery scene.
The more flexible you are with your destinations, the better chance you’ll discover a whole different level of adventure. None of these options on your list? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll offer some other travel alternatives.
We all know that many facets have to come together to make a genuinely spectacular exchange. It is all about finding the proper balance of Exchange Partners along with the comfort of feeling like you are at home while traveling. And that’s just the beginning. If there is anything that can take your exchange experience to another level it is by being the best guest you can be.
Now stick with us. Most of you are probably incredibly fantastic guests but there are certain occasions when “things” happen that can leave a host feeling a little less than satisfied. What makes a quality guest? Here are some tips to get you thinking:
Put yourself in their shoes (not literally)
To get started, take a moment and consider how you like to return home after your exchange. How does your home look? Like we say in our HomeExchange etiquette article, we recommend doing your best to leave your exchange in the same condition or cleaner than when you arrived. Some experienced exchangers even take photos of the home when they get there (particularly if they have kids) so that they can do their best to return things to the original place.
Make yourself at home (within reason)
Once you arrive at your exchange take a few moments to review the Welcome Guide or any information your Exchange Partner may have left behind. By doing this right when you arrive, you will know from the very beginning when trash pick up happens or if there are any special instructions regarding watering plants. Also, while out of the house, make a point to secure the door before leaving. While your home area might be safe and welcoming, it is always better to err on the side of caution.
Be good neighbor
While you are taking your trip, you might end up slipping into “vacation-mode.” Hey, we get it. Just make a point to remember that just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that everyone else around you is. By taking a few moments to introduce yourself the neighbors and letting them know that you’re staying in your Exchange Partner’s home is a not only an excellent way to get acquainted but it can also make them more interested in helping out while you are there. See, more new friends!
A little thanks can go a long way
One thing that many members of our community like to do is to leave a small gift or note to say thank you to their hosts. It could be something local from your home region, or it could be something that you enjoyed while visiting. Whatever you decide to do, at least leave a bit of a thank you note. Hearing about your experience or learning about a fun memory is an ideal thing to return to after a trip.
Before you close the door…
Just before you leave your exchange, make sure to do one last walk through. Have you emptied the trash? Did you put the keys back in the agreed upon location? What about that phone charger? It may only take 5 minutes but can save hours of headaches later.
Last but not least: Communicate, communicate, communicate
We could keep going but, in the end, it all comes down to a very straightforward thing: Talk to your Exchange Partner. Before you go, while you’re there, or before you leave, talking through expectations will help make things easier for everyone involved. Do you have a cleaning person who comes in weekly? Great, but who will pay for that while you’re away? Should the beds be stripped before leaving or would they prefer to make them upon returning home? Should the dishwasher and laundry be washed and dried before departure or better to let the host take care of that? These are just a few questions to consider.
We know that being a “good” guest can be somewhat subjective, but sometimes even the best guests can use a little refresher. Now we turn to you, what is it that makes someone a good guest in your mind? Share in the comments below!
There is no denying that the advent of smartphones has helped to revolutionize travel. All that information is right at your fingertips waiting for you to access it. But with all the apps out there claiming to help make your adventures easier, it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones to use.
Looking to make your Exchange Partner more comfortable while staying at your home? One of the easiest ways is to build a Welcome Guide. Think of it as an instruction manual for your place and region.
Whether you are the one to greet your Exchange Partner or you have someone else assist, it can be overwhelming to be on the receiving end of a tour and be expected to remember everything. By getting the “How To’s” down on paper, it will make life for you (and your Exchange Partner) a lot easier. Here are a few things to consider including in your Welcome Guide:
1. A Warm (Personalized) Greeting
Taking a couple minutes to say how much you are looking forward to your exchange is a perfect way to get started. Once the exchange is confirmed and you know a little more about your Exchange Partner, you can even use this space as a place to give individualized recommendations. Are they an outdoor enthusiast? Share a few spots they can get outside. Have children? Offer directions to parks and family-friendly activities. Or include the names of some potential babysitters. Even if you don’t create a more robust guide, these notes will give insight to living like a local.
2. This remote does what?!
After a long day of exploring your area, your Exchange Partner might want to settle in and enjoy some television. Then they see your multiple remotes and have no clue what to do. By providing some written instructions (and perhaps storing those extra remotes), you can ease some of the stress. Keep it simple and explain: how to turn everything on and off, switching to the DVD/Blu-Ray, or using a streaming device. If there are any particular “quirks” that you typically work around, this is the place to share that info.
3. Make yourself comfortable
Depending on the appliances you have around your home, it can be helpful to give a brief overview of how to operate them. Dishwashers can have different settings while washer and dryers could be confusing. Providing a few steps can help transform something daunting into a comfortable routine.
4. Which way to…
When visiting your area, your Exchange Partner might get overwhelmed with options. By writing down directions to grocery stores, days for farmers’ markets, a list of your favorite restaurants and more, they will be moving around like a local in no time. It is also a nice touch to add a few menus for your favorite take-out spots, for those nights when they want to stay in and relax instead of cooking for themselves.
5. Tidying up
Before confirming your exchange, it is helpful to outline the expectations for how to leave your home. By detailing the quirks of your home can be useful. Worried about water on the wood floor? Have special cleaners for the countertops? Offering an outline can help to make everyone feel more comfortable at the end of the day.
6. A helping hand
When you’re on an exchange, the last thing you want to worry about is something happening at home. Help minimize the worry by leaving a list of names and numbers to call should the need arise. These could include a local friend who knows your home, plumber, emergency services like police, firefighters or paramedics, the hospital. If you are leaving your pet, make sure to include contact information on their vet, should the need arise. It might seem like going overboard, but the best way to ensure there isn’t a problem is to be prepared.
7. Don’t forget…
There are so many things that you can include in a Welcome Guide, and each one is as unique and individual as the home it belongs to. Take the time to think through all the aspects of your home so that there aren’t any unfortunate surprises when you return. Particular guidelines for watering plants? Share them. Did you tell what day to take out the trash? Make a note.