As you’ve probably discovered, this sort of travel has various names: home exchange, home swapping, house-swap… We’ve even come across “immersion travel”, which sounds more like going off in a submarine.
They all mean the same thing: staying in someone else’s home for a while, usually while they stay in yours. We tend to say “swapping” or “exchanging”, as they seem the most common-sense words to use.
There are some other phrases you may have encountered. “Non-simultaneous exchange” just means you’re not in each other’s homes at the same time. For example, you might make your home available while you’re staying with family, in return for a similar arrangement when your swappers are away from their home.
You draw up an “Exchange agreement” with your swappers before the holiday. There’s a standard format for this (see our guides and templates), because there may be specifics you want to sort out between you – like how you’ll deal with phone bills, or using each other’s cars, or just watering the plants. It’s worth making sure everyone’s clear on what they expect before the holiday – but it shouldn’t take long to sort out.
Lastly, “house book“. (You may have seen this on our site already.) This is just the file of information you think your guests will need. So as well as all the emergency numbers (doctor, plumber, mechanic, etc), you put in the manuals for the TV and the dishwasher and all that, and any other useful details. (“If the garage door sticks, kick the bottom right corner”, that sort of thing.) You may also want to recommend some local restaurants, bars and other good stuff in your area.
We offer a template of the basic information sheet, which you can add to as you like. (And once you’ve done it, you’re set up for all future swaps.)