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Staying in someone else's home can save you a fortune when you travel but naturally requires some ground rules to be in place between both parties - more than simply staying in a hotel.

It can be a bit daunting on your first trip to fully treat the home like your own. But as long as you behave as you'd hope someone would do in your own home - you'll be fine.

Here are our top seven tips for your first home exchange to ensure everything runs smoothly...

Staying in someone else's home can save you a fortune when you travel but naturally requires some ground rules to be in place between both parties - more than simply staying in a hotel.

It can be a bit daunting on your first trip to fully treat the home like your own. But as long as you behave as you'd hope someone would do in your own home - you'll be fine.

Here are our top seven tips for your first home exchange to ensure everything runs smoothly:

1. Be sensible - lock away any precious items before you go on your trip. That said, you will have to be a little relaxed about things, as you can't pack up the whole house.

2. Be thoughtful - most homeowners you swap with will leave you an exchange pack. This should include useful tips on things to see and do in the local area and vital information such as Wifi codes and key contacts. It should also lay down the guidelines for the home you're staying in. Stick to what's being said, and everything should go fine. Similarly, make sure you leave one of these packs at your home as well - if you can't make your rules clear, you can't expect people to stick to them.

3. Introduce yourself to neighbours on arrival. It's likely that they'll be aware that you're there, but it's nice to know who they are if you need to ask any questions. And they'll like to know who's going to be coming and going. The homeowner may ask friends or family to pop over and see you during your stay - this is a good way to get to know the area, so think about doing it for people staying at your place too.

4. Replace anything you use up during your stay, whether this is shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom, fuel in the car, or any food, unless your exchange partner has said otherwise. It's always a nice touch to get in the basics, like milk, bread and a bottle of wine, when you leave.

5. Don't snoop! Of course you'll need to have a hunt through kitchen drawers and airing cupboards to find what you need, but leave it at that. Some homeowners may leave you a list of things you can borrow, but other than that, take out with you whatever you think you'll need during your trip.

6. Look after any plants. Don't go over the top, but making sure that all the plants that were alive when you arrived are still blooming when you leave is one of those things that'll make any homeowner happy on return. Similarly, keep an eye on the garden - if it's especially dry, water any outside plants.

7. Leave the house neat and tidy. Agree before your trip how cleaning and linen & laundry will work - do they have a cleaner that will come during or after your stay and vice-versa? Little things, like stacking mail up, make all the difference too, as does leaving a small thank you gift, such as a card or flowers.

Now, check out our hush-hush '18 Things no one will tell you about Home Swapping' post HERE.

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