Ask most home-swappers about the disadvantages of home swapping and they’ll probably look vague and draw a blank. For most, once experienced, this becomes a way of life.
Problems of any significance rarely occur. But there are some drawbacks unique to home swapping which include:
Destination and timeframe constraints
You may not be able to get the destination of your first preference. Home exchange is not the same as booking a room in a hotel where you can determine availability and secure your reservation. You must rely on finding someone at your destination who wishes to come to your area, usually, at the same time you wish to travel and for the same length of time.
It therefore works best for people with flexible timeframes and open destinations.
Planning and communication requirements
Home swapping involves considerable planning and correspondence. Once identified, you need to allow adequate time to correspond with your exchange partners. There are many issues requiring discussion and agreement and this takes some effort from both parties.
You will want to feel comfortable with these strangers before turning over your house and car keys to them. For this to happen, you need to take some time getting to know each other through correspondence and phone calls. Before any of this can occur, you must spend time identifying the home exchange company you wish to join, preparing details of your home and area, taking photographs and finding the right people to swap with you. Of course, once you’ve prepared all this information, the task becomes much easier with subsequent exchange quests.
There can be difficulties in trying to co-ordinate dates and timing between different hemispheres where seasonal variations have to be considered. This may prove to be a limiting factor in finding those desiring your area at the same time. If, for example, you live in northern England, you will find that many potential swappers don’t relish the thought of spending the months of January to March in your area for the very reason that you wish to escape. It is understandable that those coming from the Southern Hemisphere may not be attracted to experiencing three winters in a row. So, it will be necessary to show some consideration to the incoming visitor in order to make your offer more attractive.
Variable house-keeping standards
Novices tend to be concerned about all the wrong things – theft and damage are virtually never encountered. Potential problems are more likely to be related to variations in house-keeping standards and expectations. What is spotless to one family may not be so to another.
Varying house-keeping standards and issues of cleanliness can distress some people. No two families will be the same in this regard.
It takes some effort to adequately prepare your home for your exchange guests. You won’t be able to just walk out and lock up as you could when leaving for a conventional holiday.
Levels of preparation for the exchange will vary. It can be disheartening to put a lot of time and effort into ensuring your guests have the best possible experience, only to find they’ve done very little in preparation for your own arrival.
Damage and breakages
Occasionally items get accidentally damaged or broken. Home swappers must be prepared to accept this.
Misunderstandings can arise between any two parties negotiating an exchange but are even more likely to occur when there are language barriers.
It is generally accepted that most people embarking on a home exchange holiday can speak at least some of the language of the destination country. English is widely spoken among home exchangers. If you’re going to a non-English speaking country, it’s obviously an added bonus if you can speak and understand the language.
In arranging the details of any exchange, good communication is essential and where the participants do not share a common language, it is even more important to spell out all the details of the arrangements as clearly as possible.
Excerpted and adapted from the ebook "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? How to Swap Your Home and Enjoy FREE Holiday Accommodation Worldwide" by Jackie Hair.