The Frequently asked
questions about Home Exchange
Q: I'm concerned that I'm inviting strangers into my home. How do I
know they will look after what is perhaps my biggest asset, my home?
A: Generally you will have arranged a simultaneous
exchange so the other folks will also be trusting you to take care of
their home. Also they have no doubt invested a lot of money in air fares
just to get to your home. Both families will want to treat the other
home like they would their own.
When your arranging the exchange, we encourage you to start well in
advance of the time you want to take your holidays. In this way both
parties will exchange a lot of e-mails etc and just get to know each other
and get comfortable about all the arrangements.
Your first exchange will be the hardest and the the one you will worry a
You can ask what previous exchanges the other family has had, so some
references can be provided.
If you don't feel comfortable for any reason, then don't go ahead with the
Please remember to do this early in the arrangements before airfares have
Q: Should I expect to get a legally binding contract for the exchange?
A: Contracts are not only not necessary but expecting to draw one up
to cover perhaps two different countries that you could enforce, is highly
unlikely. It is however a good idea to write up a list of things that you
have both agreed too. This way you will avoid any misunderstandings or embarrassment.
Q: What about all my special valuable things I have around the home?
A: All of this is pretty much common sense and will vary family to
family. If your concerned about some of your valuables then either remove
them from the home or lock them in a cupboard or a spare room and take the
key with you. As part of your list you might draw attention to certain
items you would prefer not to be used .e.g. Your antique piano, your kids
racing bike or the precious dinner setting the mother in law gave you.
Q: What if something is damaged?
A: It is the responsibility of who ever caused the damage to either
pay to have it repaired or reimburse the owner for the cost of the
replacement or repair. It quite unlikely that anything will happen but
when it does its probably more convenient for the owner to organize the
repairs with knowledge of where to get the service. This is an item for
your list of agreement.
We are also assuming that all insurances are in place.
Q: I've got my precious pets. Will they be cared for?
A: Part of the huge benefits of home exchange is the chance for your
pets to be cared for in their own home environment. We show on each
listing if the home has pets in need of care.
Details of how the pets will be cared for should be worked out well in advance. Generally
most of us are more worried about our pets that the home itself.
Q: Who pays the household bills?
A: The owner pays the normal home utilities such as power, water, gas
etc as though they were still living there. Any additional expenses
the exchange party incurs such as hiring a maid or cleaning service would
be paid by them. The telephone calls will be paid by the exchange
party and a clear policy about this should be decided in advance. In
today's age of mobile phones you may care to cut off your phone service
before you leave home allowing your guests to use their own cell phone.
(Another item for your list)
Q: What happens if I make all the arrangements, buy my fares and the other
party cancels at the last moment?
A: Home exchange is a matter of trust. The other party will also be
buying airfares about the same time your do and you will be telling each
other this. A cancellation is likely to be caused only in extreme
circumstances such as illness etc. Your fall back will have to be the same
if you were going on a regular holiday. Travel insurance, rent some accommodation,
call up HoliSwap to see if we can help with an emergency exchange
or work through the listings in the area to see if they can help. Often
the canceling party may find you something with their friends.
Q: What do I need to do in my home to make ready for my guest?
A: The more you can do for the exchange partners the better. Just put
yourself in their place.
You have arrived in a strange home, in perhaps a different country after a
You and the family are tired so the last thing you need is to be
frustrated by the domestic appliances etc.
Clear written, simple instructions on how things work make the holiday
more enjoyable. A nice printed manual on the "operating of the
home" is a good idea or if you're skilled put it on your web site so
the exchange party can read it in advance. (Look at this example)
A plastic folder containing all the appliances manuals is useful. Perhaps
stickers on those troublesome washing machines advising the best
Instructions on the local shops, restaurants, the medical services and as
much as possible about the tourist attractions is great. Brochures and
local road maps are good. How to catch the local transport.
A clean tidy home in serviceable condition goes without saying.
A nice touch is a bottle of local wine or bowl of special fruit left for
the incoming guest.
Q: What about the food in the house?
A: The arrangements will vary but its generally easier just to replace
the food you use. (Another list item)
Q: Should we include the car in the exchange?
A: This is very much up to you and how you feel about it. Often its
not overly expensive to rent a car which may be better in some situations. If
you do exchange your car make sure your insurance adequately covers your