Elli Bishop is a writer for SafeWise, a website that provides honest home security reviews and a library of helpful safety and security resources.
Home exchanges are becoming a common way for families to cut down on trip expenses and have the comforts of home while on vacation. Many times, you'll stay at family's home while they stay at yours, but in some cases, you may make your home available to a family while you stay with relatives or friends. In any case, there are several things you should do to make your home ready for exchange guests, ensuring you both have a safe and worthwhile experience. Here's a list of 10 things to put on your to-do list:
1. Get to know your guests.
Of course, you should know your guests' expectations during their stay, but you should also get to know each other. Talk about your family, interests, and work. Describe your home and neighborhood. Address any special needs they might have. Mention any responsibilities you might have for them, such as taking care of plants or hiring a cleaning service. You might even ask for personal references and insurance information, just to be safe.
2. Iron out details.
Discuss all the nitty-gritty details with your guests, so that nothing is left open-ended or unclear. Will you leave food for your guests? Will you hire a cleaning service? Do you expect the guests to hire a cleaning service? How will you arrange the key swap? Do you expect them to clean sheets or towels before they go? All these questions (along with anything else you can think of) should be discussed ahead of time to make sure things run smoothly.
Make sure your home is clean and ready for guests. Dust thoroughly and get any crumbs that might be hiding in corners. Wash all your linens, towels, dishes, etc. Take out the trash. Replace your hand soap and dish-washing soap, and place an unopened bar of soap in every shower.
4. Do maintenance.
Make sure everything's in tip-top working condition. Test all your appliances, toilets, showers, and more. You don't want to leave your guests with a running toilet or a broken garbage disposal—those types of inconveniences could put a huge damper on their trip.
5. Replace batteries.
Make sure to replace batteries in remote controls, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and other appliances before leaving. There's nothing more obnoxious that being woken up by a beeping smoke detector in the middle of the night and not having the batteries or tools to replace them. So do your guests a favor and replace all batteries ahead of time, so they can rest easy.
6. Leave instructions.
If your TV has a dozen remotes or if you have a security system, leave notes with written instructions, so your guests will know how to operate different household items. The same goes for a pool, hot tub, or any other household items that may require explanations for use. Leaving instructions will be helpful to your guests, and it will also lessen the risk of anything being misused or damaged.
7. Leave room for guests.
Make sure your guests have places to put their luggage, clothes, and bathroom supplies. Empty out a dresser drawer in each bedroom. Make room in each closet and leave extra hangers. Give them some space in the pantry and medicine cabinets. You might even consider putting a luggage rack in each bedroom. Giving your guests plenty of space means they won't have to rummage through your belongings trying to make room for themselves in your home.
8. Write a welcome note.
A nice touch is to leave a note, welcoming your guests to your home. You can even include a treat with your note, such as a plate of homemade cookies, a bottle of wine, or some gourmet popcorn. Make your guests feel welcome and trusted, and they will return your kindness in treating your home with care.
9. Tell your neighbors.
Let your neighbors know about the exchange, so that they won't be alarmed by seeing strangers at your home. Plus, your neighbors can keep an eye on things and make sure there's no suspicious activity. If you know your neighbors well, they might even want to invite the exchange family over for a meal or a cocktail to make your guests feel even more welcome.
10. Conceal valuables.
If you're nervous about keeping irreplaceable items in your home with an exchange family there, then conceal your valuables. Keep them with friends or family or put them in a safe. That way, you won't have to worry about your keepsakes getting lost, broken, or stolen.
Home exchanges can be a very rewarding way to travel and get to know new people. Because home exchanges are based on mutual trust, it's important to take steps ahead of time to ensure that your guests will be safe and comfortable. When you take the time to prepare your home, both you and your guests can have peace of mind during your home exchange. For additional tips on home and community safety, visit .
Want to be a guest blogger for SmarterTravel? Read up on our Guest Blogger Policy, and then send your story pitch to email@example.com with the subject line "Guest blog submission." If we like your idea, we'll ask you to write the post!