Finalising your home swap agreement
- Communication is key: stay in regular contact with your home swap partners. Use the site's messaging system, emails, Skype and telephone to get to know your exchange partners.
- Provide (and ask for!) additional information: Once you have agreed a home swap with another member, provide them with any further information they have requested or may find useful. In turn, ask for any information not yet given which will help you with your plans. *Note: if a swimming pool is included with the exchange home, and it is not clear if this is a private or shared pool, ask for this information if it is important to you.
- Exchange references: It can be reassuring to exchange references before finalising your home exchange plans. Many members have home swap trip reports in their Guardian Home Exchange offers but, if they don't, don't be embarrassed to ask for references and, if you are an experienced home exchanger, offer to put them in touch with your previous home swap partners.
- Home insurance: Check that your home insurance will be valid while your exchange partners occupy your home. Emphasise that they are non-paying guests. Most insurance companies will acknowledge that your home is at lower risk from burglary when it is occupied but your insurance cover may be invalid if the company has not been informed before your home exchange holiday.
- Car Insurance: if you hope to exchange cars, again check that your home exchange partners will be covered to use your car (do not agree to exchange cars until you have checked with your car insurance provider). Also make sure to agree any restrictions on use or mileage.
- Household bills: If you are exchanging for longer periods of time, you will want to agree on who will pay utility bills.
- Do not feel pressured: Never feel 'pressured' into agreeing something, such as caring for a pet or swapping cars. It is much better to face possibly causing some disappointment now than to let it pass and go on your holiday feeling resentful or worried. And never accept an exchange offer if you feel in any way uneasy about it - better to risk losing the offer than to have regrets later.
- Ask questions: If any information your exchange partner has provided is puzzling you, do ask for an explanation. There can occasionally be misunderstandings over terminology, even between English speakers.
- Meet the member: It's not always possible but it can be nice to arrange an overlap with the member at one of your homes.
- Out of bounds: If you have anything that you don't want used during the exchange (e.g. your work laptop), make certain your exchange partners are aware of what is 'out of bounds'; ideally, lock away anything not to be used.
- Pets/plants: Many exchangers are quite happy to look after plants and/or pets for their home exchange partners. However, don't feel obliged to do so if you are worried about the responsibility or want to spend some time away from your home from home.