Home swap management questions

A reader recently commented:

I don’t read many blogs but I really enjoy yours! Thank you.

Can you share info about how often your own home(s) are swapped out and how that fits into your own (presumably) traveling lifestyle? Can you talk about how much work it is to administrate and manage home swaps from the homeowner’s perspective? Thanks!

Yes, I had to leave in that first sentence to gloat a bit! This is not from any of my relatives, I swear.

I think these are good questions that I have addressed indirectly by posting about most of the home swaps I do. But I’ve never attempted to sum them up to address these specific points.

How often is my home swapped out?

Not very often, or maybe quite often, depending on your perspective. The vast majority of the time there isn’t a home exchange guest in my home. Sometimes when I’m traveling someone is staying there. Occasionally it’s a simultaneous swap. More often it’s a points-based stay. The later is possible even when I’m staying with friends or relatives and not seeking out a swap of my own. Sometimes I’m staying somewhere using points when there isn’t a guest in my home.

In 2016 I did 8 home swaps of one sort or another. I haven’t summed up 2017 yet but I’ll have a post on that at the end of the year.

How does home exchange fit into my traveling lifestyle?

Well it works out quite well for me. When I’m traveling and my home is empty I can allow people to stay there and earn points, even if i’m not off on a home exchange. Home exchange has dramatically cut my traveling costs, which has allowed me to increase my travels.

How much work is it to administrate and manage home swaps?

For me most of the work is in finding a home exchange for my travels. That can take a lot of time. I wrote about how I approach searching for a home exchange.

As far as managing home swap guests, I don’t think that’s much work. I try to communicate in advance my expectations and the details they will need about my home. A few weeks before the stay I’ll send my home guide to my guests, explaining everything they might want to know about my place. I’ve already created that, so it’s just a matter of emailing it to my guests.

I do all the house prep the day before I leave town: clean thoroughly and put away stuff, make some space in the closets and drawers and put on clean sheets and towels. I also try to leave a treat for my guests, maybe some local chocolates or a bottle of wine or something fun. But all that doesn’t take more than a few hours.  Here a post with tips on home exchange etiquette.  Early on in the swap I’ll check in with my guests to make sure all is well and that they don’t need anything from me. And if it’s a simultaneous swap I will let them know when I arrive at their place, and at the end confirm when I depart.

I hope that answers these questions sufficiently. Leave more questions in the comments and I’ll answer them there or in a future post.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to answer.! I can see how managing a home share would be doable, even while abroad, as long as the house is prepared as if it will be shared every time I leave. If you did have consecutive shares while you were away, does each guest prepare the house for the (theoretical) next house guest before leaving? And what happens if a maintenance issue comes up, like a drain backup or a broken heating/cooling system? I assume you share your home without securing outside local help as a contingency? If you own more than one home, and make multiple homes available for sharing, the points and shares could really add up but so could the headaches.

  2. The only problem we had with our first two home exchanges, on Guest to Guest, was language barrier. We used google translate and I even hired a translator to help set up the exchange, but this is a poor substitute. An example, on the review of our first ever stay, our host gave us an initial score of 3 for “trustworthiness”. She said it was because we were 15 minutes late arriving; the train was late, we couldn’t contact her because our phone didn’t play nicely in Italy. So, after googling the different translations for “trustworthy,” she agreed that we were not thieves or liars, and changed the rating. Next time, I don’t think I will exchange with someone with whom I cannot communicate easily. Any suggestions about this?

    • dawnzerly

      December 3, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for the comment Deb, this is a good point for people to consider. I have not done any exchanges with people with whom I couldn’t communicate but I agree this is something to approach cautiously. It’s hard to set expectations appropriately if you are relying on translation software. Though I’m surprised that hiring a translator didn’t make this significantly smoother. The problem with the “trustworthiness” rating sounds more like an issue with the translation Guest to Guest is using for the term in Italian as your host would presumably have given an Italian speaker a 3 as well based on their understanding of that term on the site.

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