Hear top tips from super swappers Deborah and Les who have been home swapping their cottage in the Peak District since 2015. They’ll be discussing how they first found out about home swapping, their favourite experiences and how to be a great home swap host and guest.
The couple first discovered the home swapping when they featured on the BBC programme Home Away from Home “It differs from Love Home Swap as you don’t know where you are going or who you are swapping with!” mentions Deborah.
“Until we saw a BBC article in our local press asking for anyone who had renovated a home to get in touch, I had never heard of home swapping. They explained the concept to us and it sounded a great idea.”
Deborah and Les at Keukenhof Botanic Gardens near Amsterdam
“After the BBC experience where we visited a modern home in Somerset we realised our 300-year-old cottage in the Peak District was a place people may like to stay in, so we researched various home swap sites and decided LHS [Love Home Swap] would be the one to join.”
Deborah’s first Love Home Swap experience using Points
“Our first swap was to Madrid, and even though we had visited Spain many times we had never been to the capital city. Our hosts didn’t want to travel when we did but as they had two properties, they were able to accept Points and let us stay in their city centre apartment whilst they stayed in their country cottage. We were worried about being left in the centre of Madrid with nowhere to stay, it seemed too good to be true… we were going to stay in a beautiful apartment designed by the owners who were architects, free of charge!”
“All was well – our hosts met us at the property and showed us around. I was pleased we had used Points for our first swap as it “showed us the ropes” before we had someone staying at our house.”
Preparing your home for your first swap
“Things like making some room in a wardrobe for your guests to hang their clothes, give them clear directions and instructions on how to get into the house, explain how the heating system works and where the local transport and amenities are etc. A lot of this can be included in a home swapping manual which once you have prepared, is there for your guests to look over, or add to. Once you have done the preparation for guests to visit your home you can look forward to your own holiday.
Lessons learnt from home swapping
“We learned a lot from our first few swaps:
– You need to message a lot of people with the dates you want, as there will only be a certain percentage of members who can make those dates
– Be flexible with your dates or areas you can stay in, or consider Points swapping.
– Points work well for us as we often visit our family in Houston or friends who live in Spain- so whilst we are staying with them our property is free and can be earning points for us.
“It’s hard to choose a favourite from the 20 swaps we have done in the last four years, they have ranged from Leeds to London, San Diego to Granada; and whilst it’s great to stop in lovely grand houses as we did in Bali or fabulous apartments with wonderful views of Brooklyn, the beauty of home swapping is you choose the location and length of stay to suit you at a fraction of the cost.”
Deborah, Les and friends enjoying their home swap in Bali
“Our stay in Amsterdam was in a small one bedroomed apartment which adequately suited our needs as a base to enjoy the sights and culture of the city. You don’t have to have a mansion or four acres of garden for people to want to swap with you- there is often someone who wants to visit their family or friends close by to your home or just want to experience the culture of staying in a regular UK house.”
How to be a good swap guest
“We always leave a thank you card and maybe a small gift (bottle of wine or bunch of flowers) for our hosts, and if they don’t have a cleaner we strip the beds and sweep or hoover making sure all the dishes are washed and put away. It only takes half an hour and you get so much more from the experience in return!”
Tie in your hobbies to your home swaps
When the couple swap they often visit sporting venues as they enjoy watching cricket and football, and as Deborah enjoys gardening, a day out at a renowned garden is usually on their agenda too. Their visit to Bournville to was mainly to watch England play a cricket test match at Edgbaston “what an interesting place Bournville is though, we had a great time apart from the cricket the area has a unique history and some great architecture, and we fulfilled the wider family’s chocolate order as we were staying just around the corner from Cadbury World!”
“Their visit to a beautiful home swap in Piedmont in Italy was to enjoy a few days rest on their own after a hectic 2 weeks travelling around France with family and friends watching England football matches, and their many Wembley visits have included stays in London with days out to Camden Lock and the Neasden Hindu Temple.”
“One of my favourite swaps was us using points to visit a fabulous penthouse apartment in Brooklyn”, said Deborah, “we had visited New York several times before but never stayed over the river. For my birthday, Les had bought me tickets to a David Bowie Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, we used points for the swap and whilst there met some wonderful people and ate at some fantastic restaurants. The weather was great and the view from the apartment was breath-taking.”
Deborah and Les enjoying their New York home swap
Future home swap plans
“We are now renovating and extending another 300-year-old property close to Chatsworth House in the Peak District which we will list on LHS when it is finished, with a view to swapping for more short breaks in the UK – all we will have to pay for the many short holidays we want will be our petrol!”
“Next year we are planning to organise a multi-home swap in Croatia with some friends and more swaps to Spain and America with family. The beauty of home swapping is you can stay with family and friends in the same house at no extra cost, in fact, we have extended our new home to four bedrooms and three bathrooms from the original two-bedroom, one bathroom, just so we can accommodate larger groups staying at our house!”