It’s not always easy to take the plunge: organizing your first home exchange.

Antoine put his trust in us and shared his first experience, while also giving some advice to people who are still a little reluctant to try home exchange.

Antoine and his wife tried out home exchange at the beginning of July. They spent a weekend in Le Touquet, on the north coast of France, at Claire’s home. First-time experience as guests for Antoine and his wife but also for Claire as a host. We sat down to ask Antoine some questions!

Can you tell us about your first home exchange?

I went to Le Touquet for a long weekend with my wife. We were newbies on the website just like our host, Claire, was. We had to get accustomed to each other and learn about HomeExchange at the same time. Thankfully, it was really easy.

Claire’s home where Antoine did his first home exchange in Le Touquet.Claire’s home was in fact her secondary residence. She sometimes rents but does some home exchanges too. The conversation was simple: we asked the essential questions. We discussed 4 or 5 times by email then decided that it would be better to directly call each other. After a few phone calls, we exchanged some text messages too to set some quick details.

What convinced you to take the plunge and organize your first home exchange?

I haven’t been a host for the moment, only a guest. I find it interesting to be able to test home exchange thanks to the number of GuestPoints offered at the time of subscription and this helped us to be able to take our time. We could go to Claire’s home while she wanted to go to somebody else’s home in Paris, thanks to GuestPoints. I think it’s a lot easier to host her instead of unknown people, because now we know her and she had been very welcoming to us. I know that for my next exchange as a host I won’t accept everybody who sends me a request. I want to choose who comes to my place taking into account their way of thinking and living. I am really keen on hosting respectful people: if I leave a clean place, I expect to find my home as clean as it was before. I expect them to respect my home.

I find it really reassuring that I’ve already been to her place. It’s more reassuring in my opinion compared to other accommodation platforms such as Airbnb where nothing is reciprocal. Here on HomeExchange there is a reciprocity: I am at your home while you are at mine. This helps a lot in taking the first leap and going for it, in terms of trust. 🙂

I like the idea of reciprocal exchanges. I find it interesting not to have to make a cheque or swap banking information. This is what was really appealing to me: you can exchange without any money being transferred between people, simply the GuestPoints. And of course, I can spend my money on other things during the week-ends which is great!

"I find it interesting to be able to try home exchange thanks to the guestpoints which are offered when you subscribe. What greatly appealed to me was the fact that no money is transferred between guest and host"

How did you choose Le Touquet as a destination?

Like all Parisians, we were wondering what city near the sea was not too far and easily accessible: we looked in Etretat, Cabourg, Deauville but nothing was available. So we continued searching on the map and found houses in Le Touquet that seemed more than convenient. I liked one available house in particular and the host answered my request quickly to confirm that this weekend suited her too.

I felt, due to her approach, that it would be very easy to set up the exchange. We were discovering the system together so this also helped.

I didn’t know the city at all before going. I really loved the place: it’s so cute (even if it was a little windy). The beach and the village were amazing and perfect to spend a nice weekend there. I just thought it was a shame to have so many buildings near the sea and not the traditional former houses. I would highly recommend Le Touquet and Claire’s house!

When did you think: “Ok, my host is honest, I can stay in her home. No problem”?

As I was only going to her place for 2 or 3 days, I really wanted it to go well. I contacted her first with the HomeExchange messaging system. I thought the pictures of her home were great. I decided to make my first attempt to organise an exchange!

What I liked was the way things started with my host Claire: she was available right away. I know when I receive a request I try to answer as quick as possible and she did the same for me. The exchange was quickly agreed upon – I like it when it’s fast. I was thinking that if, for example, she had taken quite a bit of time to answer that it would more than likely be the same when I was at her home, and what if I had a problem? She may not answer.

From the first moment it was fluid, we both seemed to think “let’s do it!”. First, we talked by mail, then calls and then text messages. She was answering the same day so I felt really secure. I trusted my host from the first moment I started talking to her. During the exchange, I know that if I have a problem I can send her a text and that really reassured me.

The barriers were broken down straight away when we each saw that we were answering quickly.

At the end of the exchange, Antoine wrote a positive comment to Claire.

What will your next home exchange adventure be?

Next time, we would of course like to host somebody. I won’t be able to host this summer but in the foreseeable future, it would be a pleasure to be a host. As a first test, I liked your system. I really want to be host to give back and provide someone with a great experience like I had. And also because I want to receive GuestPoints, of course, in order to do more exchanges

The website kindly allowed me to be invited to someone’s home thanks to the GuestPoints that were offered upon subscription. Now it’s my turn to contribute to the system. It’s how I understand HomeExchange should work.

If you had to recommend HomeExchange to a friend who is reluctant to home exchange what would you say?

If you are unsure, as many people are, just take one step at a time like me. 🙂 If you don’t think it’s for you, you are able to test the system at least once for free. You have nothing to lose in spending a weekend traveling cheaply. To see how things are operating in other people’s homes: you should talk with people. Finally, I hope your exchange will be as amazing as mine was and I hope you will want to do it over and over again!

Learn how to be a host on HomeExchange