Home exchange or house swap holidays are a wonderful solution to enjoy a convenient and economical vacation. They are accessible through hundreds of sites which have thousands of happy customers. But most house exchange companies will tell you (likely quite truthfully) that any such issues are extremely rare.
Selecting the proper web site/company
This is simply not typically a problem as the inner workings of house swap vacations are reasonably straightforward thus reducing the prospects of encountering an ineffective business. You can lessen the threat by opting for an established business which has a great number of listings but you should not ignore smaller operations which might satisfy your needs better. A bigger company won't offer you any more legal or contractual cover (as described below).
Legal issues regarding difficulties
Ultimately all house exchange companies whether they have a large number of listings or whether they just started up yesterday, will get you to sign some sort of deal to their 'Terms & Conditions' or acceptance of liability. Some companies have contracts for you to sign whenever you participate in a home exchange but a lawyer will say that they may be only a promise of good will rather than any legally binding document. This acceptance of liability must not put you off as again, you are dealing with people in the same position as you who should be quite unlikely to cause problems. In the worst case scenario you would certainly manage to take legal action against the individuals that caused the problem (but not the house exchange business).
Most house exchange systems, whether involving a direct swap or 'non-simultaneous' exchanges, don't earn the owner of the property any cash for having people stay inside their house. This decreases insurance problems promptly and prevents further problems with income and subletting tax etc. Because the people staying in your house are invited guests then your Contents Policy should cover you for accidental breakages, losses and other damage. Of course you need to monitor your policy carefully in case there's an issue with those individuals not being known to you. A house exchange network with only your extended friends does prevent this hazard.
House guest's standards
Not very serious but probably the most ordinary issue with house exchange vacations is miscommunication and misunderstandings about laundry, cleaning etc and replacing food. In spite of this article doing its best to place your mind at rest claiming that all house swappers are of the same mind as you, we of course all have different standards and habits! This risk of issues can very quickly be managed by establishing clear communication and understanding, prior to any house exchange situation. Most firms will have good guide sheets and checklists for you to really complete and leave for your guests.
Paying your cash but not being able to swap
In case the website runs a direct swap system then holidays are hard to coordinate to your perfect dates and destinations etc. But if there's only a oneoff joining fee then you certainly might view this as a long-term investment that will not cost anything to you extra until you manage to organize that cheap holiday. Check the property listings before as this might give you some indication of how successful you could be in organizing your desired vacation if that's possible joining. Some house exchange sites utilize a non simultaneous exchange where you choose from a database of publication and properties to stay in one if it is available. This is easier to coordinate and organize since there's no direct swap required, but it means you must be confident in your ability to supply an empty property at a certain time, irrespective of whether you have the ability to arrange your exchange holiday during exactly the same period or not. People are typically suited by this offering another home or vacation property that is empty. If you can be flexible and don't have specific and urgent holiday requirements then most companies have something to offer you. You do not have a lot to lose by joining up and you could also become a part of multiple sites to enhance your chances of succeeding.
Last minute problems when you set off!
A remote risk is having set up a house exchange flights are involved by which, amongst other arrangements, and for there to be an unforeseen problem beyond the constraint of the individual party. Good travel insurance will supply a financial safety net. Because the properties are more likely to be second homes that are empty rather than a full time family home also a non - coincident scheme does reduce this danger.
The dangers are real but serious problems are very unlikely and these are much like problems you might run into if you reserved a far more conventional holiday or even if you stayed at home!
The benefits of house swap holidays needless to say, far out weigh the risks outlined above I.e. extremely low-cost vacations, the comforts and facilities of a residence, a more genuine experience of the location etc.
Many others have considered a 'home exchange vacation' - an arrangement in which you swap your home with a different family, so reducing or removing the price of lodging for the vacation. This sort of home exchange holiday is particularly popular with families, where the price of hotels will be high, or for people who want to arrive at places away from the key tourist centres, or those who are merely curious about how other people live.
You can do this kind of vacation exchange within your own state, or with families from some other countries.
However, people who've never done this kind of thing before have several questions:
How can home exchange really work?
How do I know my residence will likely be safe?
Will my home insurance still cover me while the other family is living in my house?
I would really like to go to Florida/France/Hawaii/Australia but would anyone actually need to come to my home in my very ordinary city on an exchange?
The online home exchange services have the answers to all these questions and more, so the easiest approach to determine if this would go well for you is to browse their web sites and see how it all works. Having done home exchanges myself I understand it has been great for me and my family, and we've seen places we will remember.
Once, we had a wonderful vacation in tropical Queensland, Australia, using the home of the retired family who had never done an exchange before. Later, they told us how easy it had all been and how they wished they had tried it at a younger age.
Obviously, if you are arranging a home exchange vacation you should think of practical problems also. You can make an exchange go smoothly by thinking ahead and stating your conditions. You might not want to allow families with small children or pets to exchange alongside you, in the event your carpets and furniture are immaculate. You may want to set them in storage for the duration in case you've very precious china or breakable items. You might not need people to smoke in your house. You might wish to share with your neighbors that another family will undoubtedly be using your house while you are away, etc.
The easiest way to see if your home exchange holiday is for you is to try it once.