Excerpt: Luxury Globetrotting by Ainslie Waldron
Is a Home Exchange Right for You?
The most common question I hear from people in regards to house swapping is in relation to the safety of their belongings if they have strangers living in their house. House swapping is very safe. It is swapping, after all, and while strangers will be in your house there is a definite trust factor as you will be living in the strangers’ house. Very few people have experienced difficulties with people taking, damaging or destroying possessions in their homes. In fact I know of no one who has been so unfortunate.
Be sensible. If you have anything that is priceless to you, extremely valuable or of great sentimental value, remove it from your home before your visitors arrive. Leave it in the safe keeping of a safety deposit box or a friend or family member.
If privacy is a big deal to you, you can always have a lock put on a bedroom door. Lock a bedroom filled with your valuables if you are very nervous about guests breaking things or seeing things you would rather were private. Most travelers only require one bedroom, and most houses have a bedroom that will not be used. I have been in homes where a bedroom is locked and that can be a good idea if you want to keep some of your things private.
Some people put a locked cupboard in their garage, basement or attic to keep precious personal papers. Personally, I never look through cupboards unless I am searching for something that is needed but not easily found, like spare bed linen. If I come across private papers I ignore them, and I am sure that a huge percentage of people do likewise. Someone else’s business is of absolutely no interest to most of us. Most of us have absolutely nothing to hide. Our lives are not like movies where we all have huge dark secrets that can be unearthed by house visitors. Or maybe I am wrong? Maybe many secrets are lurking that people do not wish to be unearthed. If that is the case with you, lock up private papers and possessions that you do not want others to look at.
Accidents do happen to all of us, and we must accept that sometimes someone breaks a glass or a plate or knocks an ornament over when dusting. Accept that this can happen to you when you are in someone’s house and also when they are in your house. It rarely happens, but none of us are infallible. Just accept that occasionally these things can happen, and deal with it if they do.
In consideration, I feel that overall we have contributed more to others’ households. While I admit to having broken the odd glass, I have also left more new pieces of crockery and cutlery than I have broken. I tend to sometimes buy things like nice wine glasses to drink from, often for one of two reasons: either the wine glasses in the house are very expensive-looking and I’d prefer to not use them for fear of breaking them, or the wine glasses are very plain and I’d prefer to purchase fancier local ones. I have also left various minor pieces of kitchen equipment I have purchased because I require them when I cook. We all have our little favorite things we cannot live without. I do have a bit of a foible about being able to enjoy a glass of red wine from an aesthetically pleasing glass.