Did you know that the final Tuesday in January is National Plan for Your Vacation Day? This day is meant to encourage people in the United States to plan ahead for their upcoming trips. If you want to get in the spirit of this holiday, we put together a list to help you plan your next vacation home swap with HomeExchange.

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Pick where you want to go


When planning your upcoming vacation, one of the first steps is to decide where you want to visit. Would you like to stay close to home and travel locally, explore another region of your country that you’ve never seen before, or take a trip abroad and experience a foreign country or region? Luckily, HomeExchange has members and homes in over 130 countries, meaning that the world is at your fingertips. To narrow down your location, think about when you’re planning on going, whether it’s a high or low tourist season, how the weather will be during your planned dates, and what activities are available to you then.

Decide what you will need for your vacation accommodations


Everyone has specific needs for their vacation accommodations, so when searching for a home exchange, make sure you make a list of your own! Do you need a home with wheelchair access? Are you bringing your kids with you? Will you need access to a strong WiFi connection? Would you like a vacation home with a pool? These are only some of the questions to consider when looking for the perfect home swap. Make sure to review your search filters and check out some of the groups and clubs to find what you’re looking for.

Start reaching out to potential hosts


Once you’ve settled on your trip dates and your destination, it’s time to start reaching out to some potential hosts. Make sure you personalize each message, and include some details about their listing that stood out to you specifically. Your potential hosts will appreciate that you took the time to read their profile and that you sent an authentic-sounding message. Keep in mind that on average, guests reach out to about 15 potential hosts before finalizing an exchange, so patience is key.

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Decide if you want to do a GuestPoints or traditional exchange


When it comes to home swapping on HomeExchange, travelers have two options. There’s the more traditional recirpocal exchange, where you arrange to stay in their home, and they stay in your home then or on another date. However, if you would like a break from hosting, you can also do a GuestPoints exchange, where you give your host GuestPoints, and you stay at their home in return. Your host can then use those GuestPoints to travel somewhere else at a later time. When arranging a HomeExchange, take some time to think about what would work best for you, your family, or your traveling companions.

Once you’ve finalized an exchange, ask for recommendations from your host


After you’ve finalized your exchange, tap into your host’s expertise and ask them about recommended restaurants, significant landmarks, or must-do activities that they recommend. With their guidance, you can experience your vacation spot like a local with insider knowledge and heighten your experience.

Keep in touch with your hosts and keep them updated on any changes


Remember that communication between you and your host is key! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your host for answers. Remember if there’s a change in plans (like a cancellation or a reschedule) let your hosts know as soon as possible so that they can react accordingly. Overall, maintaining a strong line of communication between the two of you will make for a smoother home swapping experience and a better trip.

Get excited!


One of the best parts of planning a trip is allowing yourself to daydream about your upcoming plans. Don’t forget that in all the hard work that it takes to arrange a vacation, that traveling is a tremendously fun experience. So go ahead: Let yourself get excited about the historical sites, popular museums, beautiful hiking trails, placid lakes, sandy shores, or whatever else excites you about your upcoming vacation.

Start planning your vacation

So, what are you waiting for? Planning for your upcoming trips ahead of time helps ensure that you don’t have to rush to book last-minute accommodations, plan activities spur of the moment, or be unprepared. With HomeExchange, we can take the stress out of planning for your vacation accommodations and help you save money, which you can then use to enjoy your trip to the fullest.