Ryan has been a member of HomeExchange for four years and has hosted several exchanges with people from around the world in his home in Ontario, Canada. He shares his experience as a host, including how he was able to overcome his fears of allowing people to live in his home.
What were some of your biggest fears when hosting another member?
The safety of my home was probably my biggest fear. This was a very unnecessary worry as our guests have always treated our house perfectly. I also wondered about the quality of the homes that I would be swapping with, but once again this has never been a problem.
How did you overcome this fear?
I think the only way you can get over any fear is to try something new and see how it works out. I did my research with other friends that use HomeExchange and found that they had never had a problem with their houses being misused.
I am glad I got over these worries as home exchanging has truly changed how we travel.
Have you hosted members from different countries?
We have hosted families from Australia, New Zealand and El Salvador.
Tell us about a memorable experience with a guest.
We have had numerous memorable experiences with our HomeExchange guests. If we are using someone's secondary house we often try to have them over for dinner, so that we are hosting in their house and allowing them to be the guests.
Our neighbors have also had some neat experiences while we have been away by inviting our home exchangers to their parties.
What do you like most about hosting other members?
I like meeting them if it is possible, as I am always interested in learning about their country. It also is great to hear some of the activities they did in your area that you may not know about yet.
Ultimately, it is great to know that you have "paid it forward" to allow someone to travel in your country that may not have had the chance normally.
How do you prepare your home for your guests?
We have a home and local guidebook prepared for our guests. We also try to have the basic necessities for their first meal at least, as we realize how busy arrival days can be. In terms of a welcome gift, we normally have a couple of bottles of wine waiting, so that they can "cheers" their first day in our home.
What did you realize after you hosted for the first time?
We realized that it was so easy to exchange. It seems silly now to not offer up our house while we are away because we are obviously not using it, so why not let someone else use it while we are gone?