House Swapping Basics
The concept of house swapping can be intimidating. Not only are you a guest in a stranger's home, but you have a stranger staying in your home as well. Some people are bothered more by the former, while others are bothered more by the latter. Either way, if you know what to expect, it will increase your comfort level.
Before you leave your home, leave directions to the closest grocery store on the counter. Make sure to leave keys to the house, car and any recreational vehicles in a place that's easy to spot. If any of your doors, appliances or vehicles have a "trick" that you've grown accustomed to over the years, make sure you explain that trick to your trading partner.
If you're friendly with your neighbors or you have family that lives in the area, you may ask them to stop by and introduce themselves. They can add a great deal to your trading partner's experience by providing some local flavor. Feel free to jot down a list of restaurants, bars or must-see attractions that the average tourist in your town might not know about. Finally, include information on any worthwhile day trips that your visitors may be interested in.
Can you guarantee that your trading partners will be as thoughtful? No, but it doesn't hurt to ask if they might give you some insider information on the area where they live. Most house swappers have the same curiosity and attraction for out-of-the-ordinary experiences, so it's unlikely that they'll think your request is out of line.
Be a good guest in your trading partner's home. At the end of your trip, clean out the refrigerator, straighten up the house and generally leave everything the way you found it. If you break a dish or have some other minor accident, leave a note with some money or a replacement object. Of course, if there's a more serious accident, you should notify the homeowner immediately. If you enjoyed your stay, a bottle of wine or another nonperishable item is a thoughtful gift to leave behind.