On home exchange platforms that use guest points, there are often requests for a one or two night stay. And these requests inspire some strong reactions. Many people say they would never consider hosting for just a few days, even if their home is empty during the requested dates. But I’m in the camp that is happy to host these folks (when possible, with the right circumstances).
Home exchanges tend to be for extended stays. A week or two is ideal when you’re flying somewhere far, and staying in free lodging. Especially with reciprocal swaps, I think the typical stay is longer. But with guest points, it can make sense to seek shorter stays. Hosts earn points when guests stay in their home. And then spend those points on future stays for themselves. Guest points make it possible to seek a home swap host for two nights in Madrid and then four nights in Barcelona for your trip traveling around Spain. That flexibility can be great. But lots of home exchangers won’t accept short term guests.
Why short term guests are a hassle
So why are so many home exchangers opposed to short term stays? Well think about this from the host’s perspective. You want to stay in my home for 2 nights. The preparation I do for a guest is no different for 2 nights than for 8 nights. And the post-visit laundry will also be just as significant regardless of your length of stay. For some this work just isn’t worth the few points they can earn. Those with second homes far from their residence may have to pay a cleaner to prepare the home. So for them this is an expense that needs to be balanced against the points earning.
Some people also fear that a short-term stay guest might treat their home more like a hotel. Trust is important in home exchange. And first impressions really do matter. If your first contact is a brief impersonal request to stay for just a night or two, you might be giving off the hotel-stay vibe. Home exchange hosts aren’t earning money; most don’t want to feel like a hotel.
Why short term guests can be awesome
First and foremost, I want to say yes to as many home exchange requests as possible. These are my people: friendly travelers, interested in exploring the world without spending lots of money. I want to help make that possible whenever I can. Short stay requests often come from folks who explain that their travel will take them through my city for just a night or two as they travel on to (fill in the blank). This makes sense to me. Why not see as many fun places as possible while you’re in a region? So I host and hope that others will have the same attitude.
We’ve had some fun hosted stays and guest hosting experiences through home exchange. For example, the one night I stayed with a family near the London Heathrow airport and had a delightful evening drinking wine with the locals. Hosting people in our spare room for a night or two has been like having friends passing through. We generally end up really enjoying our time with our guests. Home exchangers tend to be kind, friendly people, so odds are good you’ll make new friends this way.
How to be a good short term guest
If you’re looking for a short term stay here are a few things you can do to increase your chances and be a better guest.
- Explain why you only need a night or two. Perhaps you’re visiting your sister in a town nearby and want to explore the city for two days before going to stay with her? Or maybe you’re taking a cruise from a port locally and are flying in a few days early.
- Offer to host. If you’re traveling for two weeks but only need two nights, it’s nice to offer people the full two weeks in your home in exchange. If your home is empty, why not? This demonstrates your desire to do reciprocal exchanges.
- Offer to bring your own linens and towels if that’s feasible. If you are traveling by car you can eliminate the need for your host to do laundry by bringing these things along.
- Be willing to stay in a spare room. You might not get an entire home for two nights, but someone might be able to accommodate you in their guest bedroom. You could even suggest this in your initial request.
- Respond to rejections when they seem to want to host. Sometimes my short-term hosting starts off with me rejecting a request. Maybe it’s because we are home for one of the two nights requested, and I’ll explain that. If the other person writes back to say they don’t mind staying in a spare room, I’m happy to continue the conversation.
- Consider offering extra points for the hassle. Maybe you just need one night but you could offer to give points equivalent to three nights to accommodate the preparation and laundry.
- As with all swaps, assure your host that you will leave the place as clean as you found it.
Have you had a good short-term stay or short-term hosting experience? Do you have any tips to share to make this easier on hosts or to increase the likelihood of finding a host?