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.

We created a long list of apps last year, and they are all still among our favorites. But there are some new ones we had to showcase:
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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.

Back in March, we were thrilled to announce the launch of the HomeExchange App on iOS. But we also knew we were only getting to a portion of our community. With the introduction of the Android version, we have extended our reach. Now, if you have a smartphone, you can now have HomeExchange with you wherever you are.

 

Searching in the palm of your hand

The apps will by no means replace the experience of using HomeExchange on your computer it does assist in several ways. With the most recent version of the Apps, you have the ability to:

  • Log in to an existing account
  • Perform search and reverse searches
  • View the results of your search in both list and map form
  • Make use of the map to search for listings in a designated area
  • View Member listings and profiles
  • Contact other Members and access all your messages
  • View your listing and profile

 

Are there limits?

The HomeExchange development team is continually working to update and improve the experience of both HomeExchange.com and our Apps. At this time the Apps are only in English, but other languages are coming soon. Along with that, the following actions can currently not available through the App:

  • Create a new or renew an account
  • Add an additional listing to an existing account
  • Edit your listing, profile or account information
  • Send messages to multiple members at one time
  • Access or add listings to your Lists
  • Register an exchange through the messaging system.

 
If you need any additional help on using the App, our Help Section has several articles available to help make HomeExchange even more accessible.

Have you been using the App? We’d love your feedback. Send your comments and suggestions to mobile@homeexchange.com or take a moment and go to the App Store/Play Store and rate the HomeExchange App now!

For the last six months, we have loved the opportunity to watch our Community grow and flourish through the introduction of the Facebook Groups.

If you didn’t know, in September of 2017, we announced private Members-only groups for various countries around the world. We are now up to 19 groups reaching out to over 8,000 Members.

If you are already a member of the Groups? We’d appreciate your feedback.

Take our survey now!

Haven’t joined yet? Discover what you’re missing out on by becoming a part of one or more of the Facebook Groups today!

Take me to the Facebook Groups

Since 1925, there has been one stage defining, building, and inventing country music: the Grand Ole Opry. In its early years, it was a barn-dance radio show hosted for an hour by George D. Hay. Trying to bring “red hot fiddle playing” to liven up listeners’ evening, the radio program was selective and innovative as it handpicked new acts to come on the show. As it grew, the Grand Ole Opry began increasing their talent base and taping length, attracting a larger audience with a broader taste.

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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.