With each holiday lasting 4 weeks, Cotswold-based Nina estimates that they’ve saved £3000 each time they’ve Exchanged Homes (with 23 exchanges – I’ll do the maths for you – that’s a whopping saving in the region of £69,000 / US$86,000 which is truly remarkable!).
It’s always good to hear about others’ experiences when you’re about to try something new. After all, it’s completely normal to be hesitant about opening up your home to ‘strangers’.
But, that’s where you might be surprised. After initial enquiry messages, emails, and finally, phone/Skype calls, the person who will be staying in your home will no longer be a Complete Stranger! Getting to know your Exchange Partner in advance is one of the things we (really, really) recommend.
Retired Primary School Teacher, Nina spoke to me recently about her and her husband’s TWENTY FIVE YEARS of Home Exchange. You read that correctly. Twenty three exchanges and counting! And although Nina sends around 150 query emails per exchange (and only receives around 30 replies) the savings make it definitely worth the effort.
As a ‘seasoned’ Home Exchange-er, Nina’s top 3 things to prepare her home before she leaves include:
- Ensuring that everything is in good working order and serviced e.g. boiler, alarm system etc. It’s a good idea to have service contracts that would step in if there was a plumbing or electrical emergency.
- Preparing a booklet for the Exchange Partner with useful names and addresses, tips on how to use appliances, TV, etc. Also included is maps and information on location of restaurants, tourist attractions, supermarket, doctor.
- Giving the home a thorough clean, which is especially important if you have pets. We think that you could pay a professional cleaner with all that money you’re saving on accommodation!
Nina loves that each year is different. Her favourite personal Home Exchange story is being able to go and use a previous Exchange Partner’s log cabin in the High Sierras. He lent it to them 2 years running even though they weren’t exchanging with him.
There have been times where it hasn’t gone quite to plan, including arriving to find the home was not exactly as described in the listing and certainly wasn’t clean! Also, they once had a hitch with the exchanging of cars – the Exchange Partner was *ahem* too old to insure economically. Both parties instead agreed to hire/rent a car during the Exchange.
Nina has been flexible with destinations over the years – and as a result, has visited places she wouldn’t have thought of visiting. As a regular traveller, Nina brings her favourite teabags and always takes good mosquito protection (including plug-ins) if visiting Florida etc.
And from thesebootstravel:
“The first question everyone always asks is, “Weren’t you worried about having a stranger in your house?” Yes, I was: for about five seconds. But think about it: is someone going to spend $130 bucks plus the cost of international airline tickets so they can rip you off? Not bloody likely. The people who go through the minor hassle of signing up with an exchange agency want what you want: an affordable vacation in an interesting part of the world. They’re not after your jewellery. Mutual trust is the bedrock of successful home exchange, so if you’re someone who doubts the essential goodness of humanity, you might want to book into a hotel instead.”
Our goal at Teacher Home Exchange is to enable LOADS of lovely holidays, and your first year is FREE! Happy Holidays!