Home Exchange

How to get started with Home Exchange

home exchange

Are you thinking home exchange might be a good idea for your travels but don’t know where to start? In this post I talk about some basic questions you might have about home exchange. And then (once you’re totally convinced to give it a try) I offer some pointers about how to dive in and start swapping your home.

Why Home Exchange?

If you’re not yet convinced house swapping is for you, start with this post: Why should you join a home exchange network? There are lots of good reasons to do a house swap. My top three: living like a local, saving money, and staying in comfort.

Want more detail on the money you can save? Consider the low price for home swap network membership compared to the cost of hotels or Airbnb lodging. Here’s a case study of these costs based on my trip to Iceland. And here’s my calculations of savings for a trip to Europe.

Frequently asked questions

Is home exchange safe? Here’s a post where I address everything that could go wrong with a home exchange. It’s really not risky, but it’s good to think about this stuff in advance.

Do I need insurance? There are two types of insurance you could consider. You could buy general travel insurance for a home exchange. Read that post for more detail on why I don’t recommend this. Alternately, a few networks sell home exchange insurance or offer it free to members. Here’s my analysis of the value of home exchange insurance. And here’s a list of home exchange networks that offer house swap insurance.

How do I pick which home exchange network to join?

Ok, now you’re convinced it’s a good idea. But how do you figure out which network to join? Lucky for you, I write an updated guide to selecting a house swap network every year.

When selecting a network you need to think about what kind of home exchanger you are. There are several flavors of house swapping: simultaneous exchanges, non-simultaneous exchanges, points-based swaps, hosted swaps. What’s best for you depends on your travel goals and the availability of your home. For instance, those with vacation homes for swap have a lot more flexibility.

Here are some relevant articles on the types of exchanges that differ from traditional simultaneous swaps:

Create a good profile

Now that you’ve selected which network to join, you need to fill out your profile. This is an important step, take some time to do a good job. Include details about your home, where you live, and also your own travel interests. Make sure the pictures accurately portray your home. If you have anything special that guests need to know, be sure to include that in your profile. For instance, if you have a cat at home, that’s important for people with allergies. If you are willing to swap cars, mention that. And if your network has a way to indicate availability for exchanges on a calendar, fill that in too.

Find your first home exchange

Once you’ve created your profile, it’s time to start planning some trips. There are two approaches here:

  1. Sit back and wait for the exchange offers to come in
  2. Proactively search for swap partners

The first option is certainly the easiest from the perspective of finding a match. You don’t have to do any searching. But you do have to be open to traveling wherever the folks contacting you live. If you’re flexible and excited about going anywhere, you might want to give this a try and see who proposes exchanges with you. If you’re a bit more particular, setting your preferred destinations in your account is important for helping the right people in the network find your listing. Most networks have this option.

If you already know where you want to go, you’ll need to put some time into searching for house swaps based on your travel plans. Here’s my guide to finding a good swap: How to Search for a Home Exchange

Once you’ve found a home exchange, consider these tips for being a good home exchange partner: Home Exchange Etiquette

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