Home exchanging has been around for a long time – and not just since the arrival of the internet. Way back in 1949, Servas, the earliest traveller’s network, was linking hosts to travellers through good old letter writing. Nowadays, dozens of websites promote home exchanging as a way to travel the world. But as more and more people use these sites, it becomes increasingly difficult to find home exchanges in the destinations of your dreams. After all, you’re one of thousands searching for the perfect apartment in Paris or that beach house in the Bahamas. Fortunately, we have 5 tried-and-true tips to dramatically increase your chances of success.
No one is keener to offer you a home exchange than a ‘new lister’. New listers are home exchangers who have very recently posted their home to the exchange site. They’re raring to get exchanging and are much more likely to accept your offer to exchange than a member who is an old hand at the job. In fact, so keen are these newbies to start using the site, they rarely, if ever, take up the offer to come to your house, even after you’ve been to theirs! Home exchange sites will almost always allow you to use a filter to help you search. Be sure to click the ‘new listings’ filter. Next, check the number of exchanges an exchanger has had. If they really are first timers, email them quickly with your offer.
Just as ‘new listers’ are more likely to show interest in your proposition than old hands, so are those who have joined a brand new home exchanging site. Many members on fresh sites can’t wait to get started on this new adventure and will be more responsive to your requests.
Make it easy
Home exchanges can be simultaneous or non-simultaneous. In a simultaneous exchange, you stay at an exchange home at the very same time the home owners stay in your house. Simultaneous exchanges can be tricky to organise because both parties have to plan to exchange at the same time – something which doesn’t always work, especially when seasons don’t agree (after all, who wants to visit Auckland in a New Zealand winter rain while you’re lazing in French Riviera summer sunshine?).
If you’re contacted by a home exchanger wanting a non-simultaneous exchange, make it easy for them by accepting, even if it’s for a time when you didn’t plan to be away from home. All you have to do is move out for the few days your exchange partner will be in your home. Use the opportunity to stay with friends you haven’t seen for a while, to crash on your kids or to just head away in the campervan for a short break.
Not everyone sees their home as being in a dream location but that doesn’t mean it won’t be irresistible to others. So, while remembering to be truthful, talk your place up. You may not live beside the beach but you might have a golf course just around the corner. You may not live in the city centre but the wetland within walking distance of your home may be a bird watcher’s dream. Locations are as special and unique as the individuals searching for them.
Pictures are priceless
A picture paints a thousand words and never more so than on a home exchange site. Be sure to post photos to your exchange site that show off your home and environment to its best advantage. Take photos on a sunny day when the lawn is freshly mowed. Dress up the dining table with a bottle of vino and stick of French bread. Add in a shot of deck chairs and sun umbrella on the balcony. Photos are so important that, if you’re completely hopeless at taking them, it can pay to ask a friend to oblige or, if you’re deadly serious, employ a photographer to do the job – after all, you’d do that if you were trying to sell your house!