Home exchange is an awesome way to travel, but it requires some work to find swaps. You’ll need to do some work reaching out to potential exchange partners to find a match for your destination and desired travel dates. An important part of this is creating a really good home exchange profile.
A good title
Describe your home in 1 sentence. Highlight the best features. You are hoping to get people’s attention with the title. Something like:
Three bedroom cabin by the lake
Luxury city apartment in heart of downtown
4-Bed quiet family home near public transit
Picture or no picture
Like most social networks, you will be prompted to upload a profile picture. If you’re like me, you don’t want pictures of yourself floating out there on the open internet. And many home exchange networks are not securing your data. In fact, quite the opposite, they are broadcasting it. But if you don’t include a photo of yourself some folks will worry that you aren’t serious about home exchanging.
Find a photo that you’re ok with sharing on the internet. Maybe you’re off in the distance on a mountaintop. Or maybe it’s a family shot doing something fun without faces showing, like everyone jumping into a pool. You could just use a photo of your pet. I wouldn’t skip the profile picture, but only post what you’re comfortable exposing.
Show off your home
Start with the basics: how many bedrooms and bathrooms, how big it is, where is it located. Most swap networks make this part easy by prompting you for this descriptive information.
Also describe all the good features of your home. That nice yard with BBQ grill, the off street parking, views of the mountains. Mention all the stuff that makes your home attractive. This includes proximity to fun, good food, groceries, nature, and public transit. It also includes distance from those things; seclusion and quiet are also attractive. Everyone is looking for something different.
List all the amenities. Most home exchange networks have lists you can check off to indicate what’s included. But if there isn’t a list, be sure to mention if you have AC/heat, dish washer, wifi, washer/dryer, TV, and any other comforts that you think might be important.
Make sure to include multiple pictures of the inside of your home so people can get a good sense of the place. Take some time to snap pictures in good light. And clean up before the photo shoot. No one wants to see your dirty dishes!
I would not recommend including a picture of the outside of your house. See above on the security of your data. Combining a pin on a map with your location and a picture of the outside of your home, people can easily find you.
It’s also important to mention anything you need guests to do. If you have a cat that needs looking after, this should be in your profile. You want cat lovers, not people with cat allergies.
Paint your home in a good light, but don’t mislead people. If your second bathroom is an outhouse, don’t claim two bathrooms. If the AC is broken, you don’t have AC. And if you’re still working on a dialup modem, it’s not really fair to tell people they can count on wifi in your home. Luring people into a swap with false promises won’t help you in the long run. You want your guests to be happy in your home. And you want to end up with good reviews and references so other people will trust you and want to exchange in the future.
If you’re new to home exchange, or have just joined a new network, you probably don’t have any reviews in your home exchange profile. Address this head on by offering some information about your experience. Even if you’ve never done a home swap, maybe you have stayed in an Airbnb and got good reviews from your hosts. Or maybe you’ve done exchanges through another network. Offer references, or a screen shot of your excellent reviews from other platforms. Offer to chat on the phone or even a video call via Skype or Facetime. Let people know you’re serious and you are a reliable and respectful exchange partner.
A home exchange profile isn’t just about your home. People want to know who they are welcoming into their home. Take some time to talk about yourself and your family. Obviously you need to highlight the size of your family. If you have kids, include their ages. Some homes aren’t appropriate for young kids. If you travel with pets, describe them too. If you sometimes travel with other folks (maybe you bring your parents along on some trips), you can mention that here, but it’s not required. Just be sure to tell your swap partners how many people will be traveling with you when you start talking about an exchange.
Update your availability
Most networks have a calendar on which you can indicate your availability for swaps. Fill this in! And keep it up to date. This will help you attract people who are looking for the same dates. And it will also discourage people from asking you about dates you can’t travel.
Identify your preferred destinations
If you have places you want to visit, include those in your profile. Some networks let you set preferred destinations in a special section. Use this! It’s critical for reverse searches. This means other people will be able to search for folks looking to visit their home town and find you. This can greatly increase your chances of getting an offer from someone in your preferred destination.