Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The other day my wife and I received an enquiry from a couple in Spain about a possible home exchange. Sadly we had to decline. Why? The exchange being proposed was for a whole year, starting this year in July! Sorry, but..... When we plan to be away from home for such long period, we need time to prepare. Lately we have been getting quite a few of these enquiries for shorter periods of time but with imminent time-lines. When approaching someone, be realistic and try to put yourself in his or her shoes at the other end. Unless they are single with no children and are able to venture forth without much concern, most people will feel obliged to turn down a request when the time delay is so short.
Once a home exchange has been negotiated, be sure to stay in the communication loop. Let your hosts know how your time-line is progressing, when you expect to arrive etc. It's a practical courtesy you should expect too if you are the waiting host.
Once a home exchange has been negotiated, the details can vary immensely. In one case, we were present for a couple of days to welcome the couple at the airport and get them acclimatized, They in turn had asked their family in Europe to do the same for us. Details regarding the use of a car, care of pets, operation of the telephone and tv system, peculiar details about the house you live in etc all need to be discussed.
Regarding the latter, we thought we had covered the details...... On the side of our bed is a push button which is connected to the security system and brings the police running when activated. We had overlooked to mention this little detail to our new guests with alarming results. During the night, looking for a light switch, they pushed the fatal button. Thanks to our efficient police, they were confronted by two men in uniform within minutes.
Just one more thought: When you arrive, have something in your bag that is unique about your country and which you can present to your hosts as a small gift. In our case, we often bring a container of maple syrup which is especially treasured elsewhere.