A few days before my points-based home exchange trip to the San Juan islands I got a message on the LoveHomeSwap platform from someone asking to stay in my home for two nights. This was really last minute! I think it was a week in advance for him. But given my travel dates, it was just 2 days before I was leaving town. So while I had an empty home in which to host, my first instinct was to say no. I didn’t have time to prepare the place for guests.
My home is generally neat. But I like to clean thoroughly before guests arrive. And there just wasn’t enough time to do the cleaning before leaving town. On the other hand, I hate to say no to hosting a home exchange guest when my home is empty. I ended up writing back to the guy explaining the situation and promising to think about it and get back to him within 24 hours. He responded, thanking me for considering it. He said no one else was able to host him so he’d be very grateful if it would work for me.
I took a look at my potential guest’s profile on LoveHomeSwap. He had some great reviews as a host. And he mentioned in his message that he was currently on a home exchange, and just looking for a 2 night stay so that he could take a short road trip and explore the area nearby (my city). I found all of this information reassuring. First, this was someone who is an active home exchanger and has hosted guests. Second, the last minute request was not about treating my home like a hotel. It was just a fun idea of something to do while already on a home swap. And I assume he saw that I had availability for his dates noted on my calendar.
So I decided to say yes. But I was clear that I would tidy up but wouldn’t be able to deep clean. My guest was very gracious about this, quickly offering email and phone contact information if I wanted to chat about details. And keeping me up to date about his travel plans. He reached out to let me know when he arrived, and again when he departed. He cleaned up after his visit. And thanked me profusely for hosting him. Basically he did everything I want from a home exchange guest.
I also prefer to have someone in my home when we’re not there. A guest will bring in packages, water my plants, and generally keep the place safe. To me this is much better than leaving it looking empty for a week with packages piling up outside and no one coming and going.
Lots of folks who are primarily interested in home exchanging without points in the system have concerns about swappers who ask to stay for a few nights at the last minute. They often treat the booking like Airbnb, transactional rather than personal. Some people even get angry when their request is turned down but the host showed availability in their calendar. My first instinct here was to say no. But I’m glad I looked a little more closely at this request.