Wondering what to do when you have someone coming to your home? Preparing for another member's visit shouldn't be a daunting task, nor should it distract from your own holiday preparations. But there are a few important things to consider.
We recommend putting together a short document for your guests, which you can leave in the house or email to them before they arrive. Here are some of areas we suggest adding to your home swapping guest guide. And of course once you've done it once you can simply update it for future trips.
Basic information about your home
Your guests will be living like locals in your home so it is important that they have the day to day details that you may take for granted. Wifi passwords, details of the home entertainment system, coffee machine, heating, air conditioner or household gadgets, how to use the irrigation system or pool pump, advice on using your fireplace, tips on using the washing machine or dishwasher - they'll all be appreciated.
When is the garbage collected? How does your recycling work? How often would you like your houseplants watered?
Be sensible with personal items
A home swap (or trip when someone is staying in your property) is an exercise in trust, but there may well be some particular personal or precious items that you may want to lock away. A lockable cupboard or storage area is perfect.
Anything you'd prefer your guests not to use?
Do you have an antique piano that shouldn't be played? An expensive bicycle that should stay safely in the garage? Grandmothers' inherited vase that should be left on the shelf? Is your wine cellar off limits? Be sure to let your guests know what items they're welcome to use while they're there - and any you'd prefer them not to. It's helpful to make it clear upfront to avoid any awkward situations.
Best local coffee shop? Reliable taxi service? Favourite dish at the restaurant in town? Best time of day to visit the museum? What are the most convenient shops for day to day essentials? Where do you buy your groceries?
Local knowledge is one of the biggest advantages of home swapping - so be sure to share yours. Include phone numbers for emergency services and the top attractions in the area. We suggest including a few brochures and business cards as well as a list of useful websites.
Local friend or neighbour's details
Your guests will be reassured by knowing the names and contact numbers of neighbours or friends in the area. They'll generally know a few important things about your home and often they're the ones who'll be giving your guests the keys.
What to do in an emergency
While local emergency services contact numbers are commonly shared, there may be little things around the house that you may want to let your guests know about. Do you have a regular plumber and electrician if something goes wrong? Is there something quirky about the pool pump? What if the burglar alarm is set off accidentally? Who to call if they lock themselves out of the house?
Just as you wouldn't want to return to a dirty or untidy house, your guests won't want to arrive to one. Be sure that the property is clean and pay particular attention to the kitchen (fridge, freezer and oven), bathrooms and windows. And of course plenty of fresh bedding and towels should be provided. Many home swappers agree to have a professional cleaning service clean the property before and after trips and this can be agreed beforehand along with any costs involved.
Make some room
Be sure that you leave space in your cupboards, wardrobes or drawers for your guests to pack or hang their clothes as well as to put away their shopping. They'll want to enjoy their trip and not have to live out of their suitcases.
The basic household essentials
It's always recommended to leave a few basics in the house if possible - from simple items like bread, milk, tea and coffee through to wood for the fireplace or perhaps some fresh fruit. Home swaps are usually self-catering but a few items in the fridge or cupboards help to make guests feel welcome.
It's also a common courtesy to leave a supply of toilet paper, soap and basic cleaning supplies for the kitchen and bathroom.
And of course who doesn't like a little gift - perhaps a bottle of wine or some fresh flowers in the house to greet them!
Your basic host checklist
Cleaning - House, garden and pool or car if applicable
Contact numbers - Emergency services, friend or neighbour, taxi service
Local guide - Selection of your favourite restaurants/bars, shops in the area, best beaches, events taking place during their stay
Fresh linen and cupboard space
Gadget guide - TV, Wifi, security, washing machine etc
Better holidays for homeowners
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