Kristel is a HomeExchange pro: she has hosted members from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, and beyond.

This Belgium-based home swapper shares her experience opening her home to guests and making sure they feel welcome. Along the way, she's had unforgettable experiences traveling the world and living like a local.

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What were some of your biggest fears when hosting another member, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest fear in Home Exchange was that people wouldn't take care well of our house and cause serious damage out of negligence.

I read experiences of other HomeExchangers and found out that is a very friendly community. I also found out that the organisation HE has implemented a lot of guarantees and is doing a very good follow-up. I can reach out very easily to HE and receive a very quick answer.

My HomeExchange story: How I welcome guests into my home

Tell us about a memorable experience with a guest.

We had two Italian HE members as guests in our house. They offered us to cook a special Italian pasta and brought us biscotteria artisanale. We spent a very nice evening together.

What do you like most about hosting other members?

The communication before, during and after the exchange creates a connection. I am happy when I see guests were happy in our house and appreciated the welcome they received.

How do you prepare your home for your guests?

I find it very important that our guests feel welcome in our home. We offer them local beers and snacks. We made a big home guidebook of our home and about the area. We indicate on a local map the supermarkets, stores, pharmacy, gas stations, restaurants etc. We also put touristic leaflets, small booklets about our city, walk and bike itineraries. We want that guests have all information to spend a nice holiday.

My HomeExchange story: How I welcome guests into my home

What tips and tricks would you give to others who are hosting Guests?

Try to make your home very welcoming for your guests. Think about how you would like to find the house of your home exchange partner. It is important that the guests find a clean home, the necessary information about the house itself, information about how to find garden furniture, games, toys, tools to adjust the bikes, eventually the name of a neighbor they can contact if they have a problem, phone of emergencies, etc. Make also space in the fridge, in a wardrobe, and give them information about the area. What is nice is to share information about special events in the area, special pubs, musical and cultural events, things they don't find in the guidebook.

Have you ever done a hospitality exchange?

Yes. I adore receiving guests as hospitality exchange. We always share time together during breakfast and dinner. It is important that you are relaxed in hospitality exchange. Don't treat your guests as hotel guests but as family members. You share the house, share experiences of life, share the most important in life: TIME!

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What did you realize after you hosted for the first time?

I realized that people all over the world have the same feelings, same needs, we have a lot in common but we can learn also a lot of cultural differences.

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