Our house is buzzing and scurrying – we’re getting ready for our 10th home exchange in 9-years. Along with all the cost savings that happens with home swapping, it also saves me – from being disorganized!
When I know that my house needs to be “guest ready” with plenty of space for our home exchange partners to make themselves at home, it keeps me on task with eliminating my stacks of stuff and the dreaded “clutter-creep.” This time of year – the end of the school year – seems to make stacks appear much like the dust bunnies do – overnight!
Many of these ideas here have come from me seeing what our home exchange partners have done for us when we arrive at their homes. None of these details are absolutely necessary and some may argue more work but once these methods are in place, it takes little effort to update or prepare your home for your new friends…
Ready, Set, Home Swap!
These are 5 easy steps to facilitate you get ready for a home exchange that will help you and your home swap partner enjoy your “home away from home homes!”
- Make space – Make room in closets, drawers, and the kitchen. Really, what’s happening is that I’m taking all the clothing and pushing them aside. Or, in the pantry, I’m making sure there’s space for food to go so that it doesn’t have to sit out on the counter (my kitchen is very small!).
- Put together a “House Tricks Manual” – This is how the house works – which faucets drip, where the toilet plunger is kept, who to call in case of an emergency, and which neighbor has an extra key to the house. The details can be helpful when something goes wrong or can be laughed at when everything goes right! Mine is a Word Document that I update before we leave and review to make sure our home swap partners know the details. Every house we’ve stayed in has had one and some are quite humorous.
- Make a travel binder – Our travel binder is a 3-ring binder filled with maps, magazines, newspaper articles, bus schedules, travel books – anything that has to do with our city or state. There are page protectors to hold the maps and other items have 3-ring punches to keep them in place. Again, this idea came from our home swap to The Netherlands
- Leave notes – Leave notes around to help take the question out of your partner’s mind. “Please eat” or “Put clothing here” “Clean sheets are here” – notes let your partner know what goes where. I had no idea what a benefit this was until we arrived in Paris for our first exchange and there were little notes telling us details that helped make our stay smoother. Meanwhile, our partners were on their own at our house! They figured it all out but leaving notes is super helpful.
- Welcome gift – this can be simple or fancy and shares a “Welcome to our home” attitude with your home exchange partners. It can be a local treat or a favorite bottle of wine – or a homemade goody. It can also be a note with warm wishes to enjoy your stay. Our last exchange partners from Victoria, British Columbia had an entire spread for us and we totally loved it. Local coffee, smoked salmon, artesian cheese, a bottle of wine, and fresh flowers. We felt as if we were receiving the royal treatment!
Fresh sponges and keys….
I always leave a new kitchen sponge for our home exchange partners and I always bring one with us when we travel. On our first home exchange, I took one look at the sponge and thought, “Is this what they scrub the floor with or clean their dishes with?” That was the last time I wondered.
It goes without saying that making arrangements for the key is crucial to a home swap. After several exchanges that involved leaving the key in a secret spot or with one of our neighbors, I now mail the key ahead of time. When we arrived in Vienna, Austria after a long trip, a train ride, and then a bus ride to our home swap house, I wasn’t in the mood to go hunt down the key from the neighbors who had it. The neighbors were home and the key worked in the door but sometimes you just want to get into your “home-away-from-home-home” and kick back – and relax.
Getting ready for a home exchange motivates me to get moving and eliminate the “clutter creep” that somehow magically appears. With a little setting up of a binder and a “House Tricks Manual” you’ll be ready for your first home swap – and then you’ll definitely be ready for more!
Are you going on any trips this summer? Are you a home swapper?