Now that her twins are four years old and better travelers, my daughter, who lives in Miami Beach, decided to arrange a home exchange vacation in Seattle. She wanted to visit her friends there and save the costs of a large hotel bill.
Since I live 60 miles to the south, in Olympia, I could visit, join the vacation activities, and baby sit when she and her husband wanted to go out with their friends.
My daughter paid $65 on a home exchange Web site and listed her home. She found a home in Seattle that looked promising whose owners were interested in going to Miami Beach. She contacted the owners to see if mutually acceptable dates could be worked out to exchange their homes.
They were able to work out the dates, so for two weeks I was able to enjoy having my twin grandchildren nearby.
We had a great time. The twins were very comfortable in the home setting and enjoyed playing with all the “new” toys and the family cat.
My oldest daughter and her family came to Seattle, too.
We visited the Space Needle, Children’s Museum, Woodland Park Zoo, Experience Music Project, Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, and the Museum of Flight. The twins liked the zoo and the Museum of Flight best.
We also enjoyed Seattle parks, cards games, a Bingo-like game called Zingo, and fireworks from the balcony on the Fourth of July.
I loved the home exchange. It seemed like a fantastic way to have a vacation.
What did my daughter think? Would she do it again?
Although she loved visiting her friends and had looked forward to it for four years, she said it was exhausting to pack for the trip, get her house ready for guests, and then set up a new household in Seattle.
Although I helped her clean the house throughout the vacation and the day before she and the twins left, she said next time she might hire cleaners so we could enjoy ourselves on the last day of the vacation rather spend the time cleaning.
The Independent Traveler has these tips for home exchanges:
- Plan as far in advance as possible.
- Be flexible about your dates.
- Describe your home and community in an attractive way.
- Be precise about what you’re offering, such as use of the family car.
- Communicate frequently about details to develop a friendship and trust.
- Be sure that both of you are adequately insured; this includes car insurance if your vehicle will be involved in the swap.
- Ask for references to prevent problems.
- Develop an informal written agreement that outlines the terms of your exchange.
- Leave information about how to use your appliances, clean linens, and contact numbers.
- Make sure your house is clean and that you’ve left drawer and closet space for your guests.
- Store valuable items in a safe or close off a room.
- Make sure you clean the home and wash the linens in the home you’ve been staying in before you leave.
- Consider leaving a small gift to show your appreciation.
Problems with home exchanges are rare, according to the Independent Traveler article. You can report serious problems to home exchanging organization. Although these organizations don’t accept responsibility for damages occurring during an exchange, a person’s membership could be revoked.
Some organizations offering home exchange Web sites: