Preparing for your home exchange guests
In the lead up to your home swap make sure to stay in regular communication with your home swap partners. Also make sure that your home is prepared for your guests' arrival so that it is clean and welcoming.
Preparing for your guests' arrival:
- Clean and declutter: prior to your home swap, make sure you give your home a good clean so that its ready and welcoming for your guests. Clear space in your fridge and also make room in your wardrobe so that there is space for your guests to hang their clothes. Leave plenty of clean towels and extra bedding.
- Leave basic provisions: you don't have to go grocery shopping, but it's nice to have staples like tea, coffee, sugar, milk, bread, butter, cereal, toilet rolls and washing up liquid on hand to help your guests settle in while they figure out the lay of the land.
- Key exchange: decide how you will exchanges keys well in advance. Some members send copies of their keys by recorded mail, some members have a friend or neighbour meet their exchange partners to hand them the keys on their arrival, some members use special key transfer services and some members even choose to install passcode safety boxes outside their homes to store their keys (don't forget to give your home swap partners the passcode!).
- Small repairs: your guests will be expecting a clean, tidy, but lived-in home, not a five star hotel, so there's no need to over-haul your home to make it acceptable; but, if there's a few nagging little jobs, the run-up to a home exchange might provide the perfect incentive to fix them.
- Smoke alarms: make sure your home is equipped with smoke alarms and that the batteries are working.
- Pet care: if your exchange partners have agreed to look after pets, leave an adequate supply of food.
- Car swaps: if exchanging cars, clean your car inside and out. Leave enough petrol in the tank so that your partners won't be stranded on their first day in an unfamiliar area. If you are leaving your car in the airport car park for collection give clear instructions on where it is parked and also on how to reach your home from the airport.
- Directions to your home: make certain you have provided a map and clear instructions on how to reach your home in good time before the holiday if you have not arranged to have your guests collected from the airport.
- Leave a gift for your guests: start the swap on a great note by going that extra mile to welcome your guests with a kind gesture. How about some fresh flowers with a welcome card, a nice bottle of wine or maybe a nice locally produced treat?
Put together a welcome folder for your home swap guests. Include in it any information you think your guests will find useful. This can be kept for reference by future guests.
What to include in a welcome folder for your home swap guests:
- Tourist brochures, maps, recommended local restaurants, shops, bus and train time tables
- A list of phone numbers - your agent, doctor, dentist, garage, taxi, baby-sitter, servicemen, emergency numbers
- Instructions for operating appliances and heating system. It is a very good idea to use 'post it' notes to stick simple instructions, especially any little 'quirks', on appliances
- Indicate the location of your fuse box and water cut-off
- Give location of extra bedding and linen
- Provide instructions for caring for pets/plants
- Explain security measures that must be taken in your home
- Provide details of things such as rubbish collections, milk delivery, etc
- Give arrangements for laundry of bedding before you return and handing back keys
- If you have a friend or neighbour acting as your agent, provide them with two sets of keys for your home (and car) and ensure that they will be available to welcome your guests on arrival.