Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Five tips for happy house swappers

Given the economy, more and more people are considering house swapping as a great way to save money on their next trip. (Of course, "like a local" sorts have been doing it for years, as much to get a taste of local culture as to cut down on expenses.)

On your next swap, here are five ways you can make yourself--and your guests--more comfortable.

  • Do those minor home repairs you've been putting off, so your house is in sparkling shape.
  • Be crystal clear about the location of the house key. In fact, leave a backup copy with a neighbour, in case there's any confusion.
  • Ask a friend, family member or neighbour to drop in on your house soon after your guests arrive, to make sure everything is going well (both from the guests' perspective and from yours). And call home once while you're away, in case your guests have any questions.
  • Speaking of neighbours: warn them that you're doing a house swap, so they don't get worried when they see strangers frolicking in your backyard. Nothing puts a damper on a holiday like a visit from the cops.
  • Heaven knows, I'm putting myself and my fellow travel writers partway out of business with this tip, but I'll share it anyway (after all, it comes from one of those fellow travel writers). If you're doing a home exchange, why not follow Julie Ovenell-Carter's advice and write your own guidebook, using the snazzy city guides produced by Moleskine as your base?
For more tips, see the detailed home-swapping guide on my website, LaVidaLocal.com, and my recent article about house swapping and apartment rentals at TheTravelersNotebook.com.


Lois said...

More great tips, Laura. Thanks for spreading the word about home exchange to an even wider audience.

If you ever want to swap homes in the UK (the pound sterling is so de-valued that now is a bargain time for Canadians and Americans to visit), we have oodles of attractive exchange offers at Home Base Holidays.


Laura Byrne Paquet said...

Thanks, Lois! I'd love to go back to the UK someday. If I do make it, I'll definitely check out your site!

Laura said...

The big travel story for Summer 2009 is going to be home exchange. The way the economy is going, more and more people are going to be motivated to give home swapping a try.

I want to recommend www.homeforswap.com to all your readers because this website ensures that you make use of a friendly home exchange community. Through international home listings, member reviews, and tips, Homeforswap.com strives to make every home exchange fan feel prepared and comfortable in planning their vacation exchanges.

Thanks for sharing, Best Wishes!

Laura Byrne Paquet said...

Thanks for the homeforswap tip, Laura. I think you're right: given the economy, I think this may be the year homeswapping becomes mainstream.

Dave "Blizz" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave "Blizz" said...

This is a really helpful list. We haven't done the house-swap yet, but have rented our furnished rental property to vacationers and can recommend creating a guide book on how the house works.. things like the heat, entertainment system, wifi and anything that would help make their stay hassle free.

Also really liked your lavidalocal site too. Appreciate your list of rental companies (which can help us know where to list). Be sure to let us know if you ever cover San Francisco!

Jenny and Dave


twitter: @blizzzzcrib

Laura Byrne Paquet said...

Thanks for the comment, Jenny and Dave! Glad you like the blog and the website. I've checked out your website, too--it looks like a wonderful property. I'll definitely be in touch if I'm ever back in San Francisco. (I haven't visited since our honeymoon in 1991!)