Debi, a home exchanger from the United States, has hosted people in her home from England, Spain, Italy and Australia. As an experienced HomeExchange host, Debi goes above and beyond to make sure her home is welcoming for guests.
"The coffee pots they use in Europe are different than the ones we were familiar with in the U.S.," she explained. "After seeing this on our first exchange, we bought the kind of coffee pot they use to have for them at our house."
In addition to buying a new coffee pot for guests, Debi has plenty of tips to give newbie home swap hosts. She said it's all in the little details when guests come to your home, so she leaves fresh flowers on the table, and leaves a welcome letter for guests with details of her home, a map of the area, and brochures for restaurants and activities in the area.
"Another thing I do is label some of the cupboards and drawers, so that they can easily see what is where until they become familiar with the house," she shared.
Debi answered a few more of our questions about being an exceptional HomeExchange host.
Debi, what were some of your biggest fears when hosting another member?
Our first exchange we were nervous about the whole process, but were pleasantly surprised with how smoothly everything went. A small fear we had was that the exchange family wouldn't feel at home in our house, so when considering the exchange, we tried to make sure our home would be a good fit for the other family. We also wondered if there would be a problem coming home and finding the house in poor condition, but I'm happy to say, this was never the case.
How did you overcome this fear?
The way we overcame these fears was by experiencing the process first hand. We found that by communicating with the exchange family, we could iron out any potential issues before they arrived. We were really happy to see how much all of our exchange families enjoyed staying at our house. And we were always happy with the condition they left our house in when we returned home.
What do you like most about hosting other members?
We've only hosted other members when we're doing a simultaneous exchange. What we like most about hosting them is having the opportunity to stay at their house while they stay at ours. Our neighbors love to meet the families who stay at our house, especially those from other countries.
How do you prepare your home for your guests?
To prepare our home for our guests, we deep clean and de-clutter. We set up our home as if it were a vacation rental. We have nice quality bedding and towels that we use for our guests only.
We also leave them with things like milk, orange juice, eggs, fruit etc. to start them off, as well as foods like cereal, canned soup, spaghetti and sauce in the pantry. We have a fire pit in our backyard, so we always leave our guests marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for making s'mores.
What tips and tricks would you give to others who are hosting guests?
De-clutter. Leave somewhere for your guests to put their clothes.. some empty drawers or space in a closet. Ask them if they're coffee or tea drinkers, whole or low fat milk, and leave them some breakfast foods to get them started. The guests also said they appreciated the cupboards being labeled, as it made it easier for them to find things.
Make sure to put personal things in your garage or store them away. Invest in some high quality bedding and towels. Communicate any particulars about your home or neighborhood that would be helpful. Don't stress over minor things getting broken or going missing: a broken glass, a missing towel. These are minor and easily replaced. Remember that what seems to need no instructions to you, could be confusing to someone from another country (like how to use your washing machine/dryer).
What did you realize after you hosted for the first time?
We realized after hosting for the first time that this was a great way to travel! You get to give people an opportunity to experience your home and neighborhood and you get to experience living like a local in their home.