When you take a vacation, you hope for a truly relaxing experience. Chances are, cleaning is probably not foremost on your mind. However, if you’re taking your next holiday in a home exchange property, making sure that you return the home in good condition should be on your list of to-dos. Just as you’d expect the home you are going to call your own for your stay to be in tip top shape, you are expected to leave your vacation home in good order. Not only is it polite, but it will make sure you stay in good standing with the home exchange provider and the individuals who opened their home to you. Home exchange is a fantastic way to see the world and enjoy a holiday from the comforts of a real home, but because it is a relatively new industry, it can be difficult to discern what the standard operating procedures and appropriate vacation etiquette should be. Knowing the ropes before you prepare for your next home exchange will make sure you’re ready to enjoy the vacation of your dreams, without wondering what you’re supposed to do when you’re ready to pack up your things and say goodbye. With this in mind, here are a few of the key things you should focus on when you’re preparing to disembark:
Take Only Memories
This first item should be pretty self-evident; don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you when you leave! If the hosts were nice enough to leave you with pantry staples or other items to use during your stay, you should be nice enough to leave them for the next guests to use. Even if you really, really love that throw pillow or comfy blanket, you’re going to have to resign yourself to leaving it where it is.
Don’t Be a Litter Bug
Everyone occasionally forgets things, it’s just an unfortunate symptom of being a human being. However, you should make sure to do a thorough run through of the home from top to bottom, to ensure you’re not leaving anything behind. Even if you’ve grabbed everything you need, you are still expected to make sure that you’re not leaving behind things that nobody needs, like trash or unwanted items. Make sure you clean out all drawers and do not leave any perishable food items in the fridge. Before you leave, place all trash or used items in the garbage and take out anything that you brought in.
Practice Climate Control
Make sure you don’t leave any unpleasant surprises for your home exchange partners when they return. If they have left you any specific instructions, of course follow them to the letter, but you should also use your own common sense and good judgement to make sure things remain as you found them. Make sure that all exterior doors and windows are shut tightly and locked. Don’t leave the air conditioning at sub-zero, nor the heat up all of the way. Be sure any fire hazards, such as coffee pots and ovens, are safely off.
Taking these extra precautions is not only the right thing to do as a good guest, it will protect you from any potential liability and make sure that you can continue to enjoy the benefits of home exchange. Learning the ins and outs of vacation home exchange ensures that you and your exchange partner both have the best possible experience. To get started, IVHE.com has written a home exchange guide to help you with the basics of how things work, or you may want to browse through their FAQ section to answer more detailed questions on home exchange. Reading up on good etiquette is always a great start, too (for instance, Diane Gottsman’s guide to good hotel etiquette), but since a home exchange is such a wonderfully unique experience, you should prepare yourself for its particular set of rules (both written and unwritten) as well.
Thank you to travel writer Emma Sledge.