Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Home Exchange with KnokSep 16th, 2011 - by Dominique Rosario
1. New to Home Exchange? Welcome to a new way to travel!
If you are new to home exchange, you may be unsure if it is for you. One of the biggest fears for home exchange is not feeling like someone will treat your home as you would your own. Although, this is incredibly rare because when exchanging homes, both parties are gaining and risking the accommodation. If you feel like you would like to test the waters before diving in, try offering accommodation and hospitality to a guest from a city you plan to visit.
The typical domestic exchange is between 1-2 weeks. International exchanges are normally 1-3 weeks. Weekend exchanges within the same country are the most common form of house swaps. International house swapping has become more and more popular due to a great way to travel around the world while eliminating hotel costs, and giving a new perspective to comfortable travel.
Many home exchangers like to meet before hand to get to know each other better and speak about guidelines for exchanging homes, maintaining the same regime for taking care of each home, and offering travel tips to live like a local in their new home away from home.
Understanding what someone finds acceptable, how they may maintain your home, and how they spend a night in and out of your abode can be a great way to open your eyes to other people’s lifestyles and find the middle ground between yours and theirs. Most times, people feel most comfortable swapping with someone with similar lifestyles.
*Using Knok’s smart application will allow you to see who other exchangers with your similar lifestyle, occupation, country residence, and family size are more likely to swap with and have the most compatibility with. This is a great resource for those new to home exchange and not sure where to start.
Preparation is one of the most important factors in traveling. Future preparation can take a lot of frustration and headache out of your vacation. Some beginning steps on how to prepare through Knok:
Confirm that your home insurance coverage allows guests to stay in your home, and the same with the house you swap with. Most policies are glad to know others will be in your home while you are away.
Give as much detail as possible about your living space. What do you enjoy most about your home, and how do you feel it would be a good fit for someone else looking to swap with your location, size, and any other details that seem attractive to suitors? The more detail the better! Remember: Knok’s clientele is as diverse as it’s locations. Many times, luxury homeowners may be willing to swap with more modest accommodations due to location, travel plans, locality to specific events, home features, etc.
Show your home in the best light in order for the best exchange. Try your best to help potential swappers envision living in your home. Make sure to clean your accommodation, and even make slight decorations to make it more attractive. Other ways to help sell your home and get the best swap is to include pictures of nearby activities that are attractive to others. Show parks, attractions, your favorite restaurant, etc. Remember: Most exchangers are looking to live like a local in a home away from home, so helping give them tips to enjoy your home and neighborhood will help your chances of finding a swapper.
Try your best to plan ahead. Beginning your search early will allow more time to find the best suitor for you and your home exchange.
Be flexible in your dates. The more flexibility you have when you are open to exchange, the higher your chances are of finding a more desirable location and home to swap with. Remember: Many different countries only allow for certain amount of vacation time. Europeans have on average 4 to 5 weeks for personal holiday time, where United States residents usually only get 2 to 3. Keep in mind weather conditions of your desired dates and locations you are looking to swap with. Your winter may be their summer, and vice versa.
Respond and reach out to as many possible suitors as possible. Simply uploading your listing doesn’t guarantee an interested suitor. There are many homes being offered in each neighborhood, and the one thing that could set you apart is your ability to contact with an interested and personable message. If someone is interested in your home, but you may not be in theirs, still respond in order to create more feedback and keep options open for future arrangements in case you have a change of heart.
Be truthful in depicting your home. You want to sell, but make sure not to oversell anything you can’t deliver. This will avoid any disappointments and negative feedback in relation to your accommodation. Example: If you say your home features a pool, be clear how big your pool is and if it is in swim worthy conditions or not at the time of the house swap.
Be honest and upfront about what it is you’re seeking and expect in return. Clearly outline what your direct needs are. Some possible needs include a dishwasher, certain maintenance chores, a contact number in case of emergencies, etc. Some home exchangers swap cleaning services, and if you are most concerned with the tidiness of your home this could be a good swap to include.
Creating a guideline booklet is the best way to avoid any misinterpretations with your partner swappers. Clearly outline the rules and conditions of staying in your home. Some conditions could include the restriction of smoking in-doors, bringing in your mail, garbage and recycling routines, and certain things that may be off limits such as office or computer usage.
Ask all of your questions before agreeing to a home swap. Make sure that all of your concerns are answered to avoid any confusion, and allow for the most enjoyable vacation without worries.
Keep lines of communication open. Before swapping, you should make sure to speak on the phone at least once. Skype has made it incredibly easy to call out of your home country and enjoy long conversations on the cheap. Many home swappers like to meet and have dinner before the exchange if possible. You could meet at the airport or other agreed location a couple days before the exchange takes place to go over guidelines, and get to know each other better.
4. Tips on How to Be a Good Home Exchanger
Home exchanging has become a great way to get a new perspective on traveling around the globe without breaking the bank. Most home exchangers find the perspective as an insight to living like a local, so why not offer them an insight into what you enjoy most about your home and city?
Welcome your guests to your home with a present. It could be a travel guidebook, a spa treatment to enjoy in the comfort of your home, or arranging airport pickup to your address to make it an easier arrival. Whatever you decide to leave will set things off to a great start and ensure the same consideration of the treatment of your home while you’re away.
Leave food. Have some essential snacks in the fridge or a specialty dish you cook. After a long flight, this will be a gesture anyone will appreciate.
Let your neighbors know about your guests. This way, everyone is in the know and more welcoming to one another.
What is it you enjoy most about your city and home? What is a must see attraction? Everyone new to a neighborhood takes time to settle in getting to know the best spots to spend a morning or afternoon. Even you once felt this way before you moved in, and wouldn’t you have liked to have the help getting settled into your new abode? So share the advice, leave some tips on your favorite morning bakery, restaurant, and places to shop.
The insight of a local in home exchange is what makes it such a unique and rewarding experience. Any help you can give to your guests will surely be returned to you. Providing good hospitality through home exchange can not only allow you to explore the world and different cultures, but you can make friends along the way.
5. Cancellations or Emergencies
Once agreeing to a home exchange, cancellations should only be made in case of emergencies such as death or injury.
If following the above guidelines of preparation and communication, everything should be agreed upon, and each party will be excited to begin their new travel adventure. Traveling can be a great experience and adventure, but the only way for a negative experience through home exchange if following above guidelines, is through cancellation. Try your best to make sure after confirming plans, and your party buying tickets, to only cancel for dire emergencies.
6. Reviews and Feedback
Review your home exchange and the experience that came with it. This will benefit both parties and future exchangers looking to swap. Be sure to mention if your home swapper offered welcoming hospitality, as it will encourage others to do the same and benefit more swappers exchanging good experiences.
The more reviews you give, the more chance swappers will be guided to your listing. As well, any feedback you receive will increase your chances of more positive exchanges in the future and increase your popularity as a featured home exchanger!
Before you know it, more and more people will be reaching out to you! The more you review, give feedback, and experience home exchanging, the more world traveling you will embark on. Although home swap will save you thousands, it’s the experiences and living like a local that will change your life!