By Christina VanGinkel
Trading your home or apartment with another family to save on lodging while vacationing is definitely not for everyone, if you are game though, there are steps to take to make the trade as simple as can be. Whether you go through an agency that sets up trades such as this, or if you are trading with long time friends or acquaintances, certain things are a given and should be done to help the trade go as smoothly as possible.
Try to trade with someone that has children the same or near the same age as you have. Some agencies go as far as not allowing trades where children are involved, while others will just try to match the ages of children, so toys are age appropriate. Marking a room off limits is also acceptable, as long as it is discussed beforehand, and the room should then be locked. This could be a room such as an office, or craft room, where the visitors would really have no need to use the room in the first place.
Next, remove any valuables from the home, or lock them in a safe. This especially applies to jewels and guns. Medications should also be removed. The last thing you want to worry about is if their young child or teen got into something in your home that could cause harm.
Cleaning your home thoroughly before the trade should defiantly be done. Not just a quick spiffing up, but a true cleaning. You should hope the same of the house you will be staying in. The last thing someone wants to do when they arrive at their vacation destination is clean a mess that is not even theirs. Be sure to leave room in the fridge for any groceries that they might need to store, and with this in mind, be sure to remove anything that might spoil while you are away. If you know the guests, and wish to leave some items at their ready, such as a container of milk and a fresh loaf of bread, do so, but leave a note expressing that the items are for them.
Leave a list of all emergency numbers that might be needed, including fire, police, emergency, plumber, electrician, furnace or air conditioning, etc. The number and name of a neighbor who might be called upon is a good idea too. If your home has a pool or sauna, for example that the guests might be unknowledgeable about, a neighbor who is willing to go over the basic controls with them could be a godsend! The same neighbor might also be kind enough just to keep an eye out for any behavior that is less than what you would expect of guests in such an arrangement. If going through an agency, there should be specific guidelines to issues such as entertaining in the home. If the arrangement is between you and friends, be sure to discuss issues such as these. Never leave your home, which is one of life’s most valuable assets, to the trust of even a good friend without some discussion.
A list of where specific items are at is also a good idea. If you keep the coffee pot stored, or the washer and dryer are tucked away out of sight, jot the details down, along with any other information that you feel might be helpful, or make their stay more enjoyable. A list of local restaurants with take out menus, along with brochures on nearby attractions is not something you would have to do, but it would probably be greatly appreciated. Do not ever tell someone to use whatever he or she would like, unless you truly mean it. Everything to one person is very different to someone else. If you do not want someone driving a car, or taking your classic Harley for a spin, take the keys with you.
Trading homes is a great way to save money on a vacation, as long as each party takes the time to be clear on any aspects of such a trade. If this sounds like something you might like to try, research it first, and be sure it is the right thing for your family before you make the final key swap!