Tips on how to ready your home for an exchange

International Vacation Home ExchangeWhat do I need to do to prepare my home for when the guests arrive?  By now you have communicated with your home exchange guests, shared with them information about your home and most likely found out some things about them.  Remember, first impressions make a difference so when they arrive you want them to feel comfortable and welcomed.  Everyone’s tastes and styles are unique.

Part of the attraction of home exchange is to experience somewhere new and to ‘live like a local’ so preparing your house will really be up to you.  The best advice we have is to create an environment that you would like to experience when you arrive in another home.

The following are suggestions that we find useful for both you and your guest. 

  • International Vacation Home ExchangeCleaning and tidying up your home are essential.  We are confident that you would expect the same.  In good home exchange etiquette the visiting party is to leave the home in the same condition as when they arrived.  You might consider getting a professional cleaner before the exchange.  Some people that home exchange prefer arranging a professional cleaner to also come when they are leaving a property – this is especially convenient if they have to leave early in the morning and may not have time to clean the property.  You might want to make this option (the visiting party pays) available.
  • Lock away valuables and fragile items.  This does two things; gives you peace of mind and also make your guests feel at ease in your home.  Remember that accidents can happen so avoid a potential problem and put away items that are easily breakable.
  • International Vacation Home ExchangeKitchens are important as having one is a real advantage while on vacation.  Prepare your refrigerator, remove any leftovers and consider leaving a few fresh items for your guests: juice, milk, bread, butter and eggs are always welcomed.  Your exchange partners will appreciate your efforts.  For your cupboards it is not necessary to clear them out.  Leaving some key cooking ingredients (e.g. sugar, flour, oil and spices) in your kitchen is an added convenience for your guests.  If you can’t remove items you don’t want others to use leave a note telling them what should not be touched.  When possible, and especially for longer time exchanges, clear out adequate space in your cupboards and refrigerator for your guests to use.   
  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms should have plenty of linen (sheets and towels) clean and available.  Leave a note where extras, if necessary can be found.  As in the kitchen, it is nice if you make some space in your drawers, cabinets and wardrobes for your guests to use, they will appreciate it.  It is perfectly acceptable and highly likely, most welcome, to leave shampoo and conditioner for guests to use. 

International Vacation Home ExchangeYour guests are expecting to arrive in a real home.  Keeping your family photos out or having books and magazines on tables is perfectly natural in most homes.  Replacing what you use is expected when trading homes in an exchange.  This means replacing consumables in a reasonable fashion.  If you use a cup of sugar you are not expected to replace it with a kilo bag, likewise if using laundry soap for a couple loads of wash there is no need to replace.  If you use all their coffee, please aim to replace with a similar brand before leaving.  The best rule here is to treat others as you would like to be treated.

If you want to impress your guests, leave them a few little surprises; maybe fresh flowers in the house, a bottle of wine in the refrigerator, local foods, or maybe even a small gift from your region.  Make preparing your home fun.  Referrals and positive comments will certainly be written when you put in the extra effort in making your guests feel special.

The above is an extract from the Home Exchange Guide, for a free full copy, visit  For regular updates on information home exchange related topics, visit IVHE Blog. 

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