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How to prepare your home for a holiday swap

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June 26, 2017
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Home exchange holidays are becoming an increasingly popular way for travellers to enjoy a low-cost break where the only costs involved are travel and living expenses.

The benefits are plentiful – you can save money, experience a local neighbourhood away from tourist hot-spots, have the benefit of an entire house or flat to yourselves and feel reassured that your home won’t be empty while you’re on holiday (your temporary tenants may even look after your pets and your houseplants, too!).

Recent research suggests house swappers save on average £2,200 per holiday and by the end of 2017, half a million of us will be swapping rather than booking a room at a hotel or renting a villa – but before you hand over your home and your prized possessions to virtual strangers, you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for.

Travel insurance experts Adrian Flux Insurance Services, which offer bespoke travel insurance for all holidaymakers, offers potential home swappers some invaluable advice before they hand over the house keys.

holiday swap

How to prepare your home for a holiday swap:

  1. Register with a reputable home exchange organisation – do your homework and find the right company for you. Try (£41 a year) which has more than 2,000 properties listed in America and 800 in Canada or (£115 a year and offers a free 30-day trial) which boasts thousands or properties all over the world.
  2. Be truthful when you write the advertisement for your own home. Positive points are important – make sure you include details about rooms, facilities, the local area and the great features of your home, but also be honest about the more negative points, such as a railway line at the bottom of your garden. Be flexible with the dates you are available and your preferred destinations.
  3. Take plenty of photographs of your home that show it in the best light possible but that don’t ‘oversell’ it. Unlike a blind date, where you can cover up any flaws, it’s harder to disguise problems with your house once your exchange partners have arrived. Most people will accept the odd problem, just be upfront and honest.
  4. When you start contacting potential swappers, look for people who are similar to you – if you have a large family, look for other large families; if you are a couple, look for other couples. The closer the fit, the more likely it is that your homes will be suitable swaps. Remember that lots of people won’t reply to your offer – but don’t be disheartened, others will.
  5. On this note, always reply to offers, even if you’re not interested. It’s only polite!
  6. Once you’ve found a likely candidate, spend time getting to know each other: Skype is perfect for this and you may even be able to give each other virtual ‘tours’ of your properties to ensure they are suitable. Make sure each party knows exactly how the swap will work – what is included in the swap? Are you also swapping cars? Who will pay for utility and phone bills? Do your potential swappers have any references they can offer you?
  7. Compile a folder full of practical information about your home – guests should know where they can find the fusebox, the stopcock and any spare keys. If the TV is difficult to operate, talk them through it. Tell them when bins are collected and give them a list of useful telephone numbers for doctors, dentists, plumbers, electricians, the local takeaway firms…even a friendly neighbour if one agrees to help you out.
  8. Make sure your home is as clean as it can be. Think how clean you expect a holiday home to be and endeavour to reach this standard. Make room in drawers and wardrobes for your guests’ clothes, lock away your valuables and leave a welcome pack of essentials for your visitors.
  9. Check you have up to date travel insurance that covers you while you’re in transit. Adrian Flux has a huge range of bespoke policies to suit every holidaymaker, from multi-trip policies to single trip travel insurance. Call 0800 369 8590 or visit Adrian Flux for a tailor-made quote. Your household insurance should provide the same cover for exchange partners as if you’d invited a friend to stay as the arrangement is non-commercial, but check with your insurer before your proceed.
  10. Ask a friend or neighbour to act as your ‘agent’ to meet your swappers and hand over keys. If both sets of swappers love their stay in each other’s houses, suggest you each write references to help you secure even more swaps in the future.


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