Advice for a successful exchange
Is it your first exchange?
Do you require some information on how to go about successfully house swapping? SwitcHome can help with some advice...
Unless you have a holiday destination exchange set in stone try and write your listing so as to be open to all offers. You may receive offers of accommodation in areas which you had never even considered!
- Start by building the relationship with potential swappers. As soon as you have agreed to a possible exchange by email it is a good idea to organise telephone contact which is slightly more personal. Do not hesitate to ask questions or clarify certain points relating to the possible exchange. Get to know your host family. You will no longer be just tourists but friends for whom a special welcome will be reserved.
- If at all possible try and exchange with hosts who are in the same situation as you. Their offer of accommodation will be better adapted to your needs (for example: if you have young children, swap with those who have children too, if you are retired do the same).
- Agree on the terms of the exchange (dates, handover of keys, details of the exchange, telephone usage, availability of a computer, animal care). If both parties wish, complete a contract which concerns you and your potential house swappers.
- Keep hold of a spare set of household keys and hand over a second set to a trusted friend just in case your swappers lose the keys they were given.
- There is no need to empty your home of all signs of life. However do think about leaving space in the kitchen and bathroom cupboards and clearing some space in your wardrobe.
- Travel light ! Leave bath towels, household linen, bed sheets and covers for your hosts and they will do the same for you. It is also a good idea to leave basic food items such flour, sugar, milk, oil and spices…
- Put away objects of sentimental or monetary value. Put pay slips, bank statements etc in a secure locked place or entrust them to a friend or family member for the duration of the swap.
- Ask a friend or family member to welcome your hosts and to be available in case of an emergency or advice. You will also feel reassured knowing that someone is keeping an eye on your property whilst you are away.
- A welcome note or gift is always greatly appreciated after a day of travel. Leave ingredients for their first meal or breakfast and assume that any perishable goods left will be consumed by your hosts. Think about leaving them a speciality from the region – a local cheese and a bottle of wine or some home baking!
- Leave instruction manuals for electrical appliances or notes explaining how they work.
- Leave precise instructions for the care of your animals and their daily routine. Make sure you have stocked up on the necessary food items to last for the time that you are away. Leave details on how to care for your indoor and/or outdoor plants.
- Remember your hosts are not in your home to carry out cleaning duties. Think about mowing the lawn and cleaning the house before you leave so that your hosts will feel comfortable as soon as they arrive. Leave cleaning products for your hosts use. Remember to inform them of household rubbish collection days, how to recycle, mail collection times etc.
- Do not forget to make a note of telephone numbers for local services as well as other useful contact numbers (doctor, hospital, dentist, fire brigade, police, mechanic, ambulance, babysitter…), and numbers of those close by who could help if the need arises.
- Leave details of local restaurants, activities, ideas for days out, anything to inspire your guests as well as tourist guides, road maps, street maps, information on seasonal activities for them to browse through.
- Are you swapping your car too? Many insurance policies cover any person driving your vehicle. Nevertheless you should inform your insurer and check about the loss of your no claims bonus should your host be at fault in an accident involving your car. Agree on possible payments or the excess charge payable should an accident occur and do check who will be driving your car. You could sign an agreement whereby the driver of each car would be responsible for the costs incurred by any accident up to the level of the agreed excess charge. You could also decide on the number of kilometres allowed or a geographical distance allowed. Leave your car clean, in good condition, with a full tank of petrol and with necessary documentation and details of a recent service. Provide precise details of the condition of your car (mechanical state, bodywork, kilometers on the clock). Decide together where and when you will retrieve your vehicle (garage, airport). Leave a detailed itinerary of how to get to your house in the car. You can also download our "Car exchange Contract".
Once you have arrived:
During your stay simply behave as you would at home. Respect and take good care of the home and contents entrusted to you.
Before you leave carry out a thorough clean of the property so that your hosts will find their home clean and tidy. If you have moved items, replace them where they were found. Replace items that you have used and finished from the store cupboards. If possible wash and put away the linen used during your stay. Leave a note of thanks for your hosts or a souvenir and do not forget to leave the keys as arranged or even send some photos of your holidays on your return.