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What is Home-2-Home?

Home-2-Home is an international home swap and rental service for members of the IB (International Baccalaureate) community. Home swapping is growing in popularity and is a great, cost effective way of going on holiday. Rather than paying for expensive, anonymous hotels, you stay in another like-minded person's home with all its creature comforts, In return, your exchange partner stays in your home. Now, when you go on holiday to an exotic location in another country, you will truly go from home to home!

 

Who is Eligible?

You are eligible to join the Home-2-Home service if you are a member of the IB community. This includes staff in IB World Schools, as well as all employees of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and IB Educator Network (workshop leaders, examiners etc).

You can list your property on Home-2-Home whether you own it or rent it. In the latter case, you may need to check with your landlord that non-paying guests can stay when you are away.

 

Benefits of Membership

The first year of membership of Home2-Home is completely free. Thereafter, the annual membership fee is €50 (euros) - less than the price of a night in a hotel.

Once you have joined Home-2-Home, you can take advantage of our trustworthy, intenational network of members - all of whom are connected with the IB - and start planning your holidays. You can home exchange with other members as many times as you like within your membership period. You might, for example, arrange a couple of long-weekend exchanges as well as a two week holiday exchange in your summer vacation. Moreover, if you have more than one property, your membership entitles you to advertise them all on our website.

 

Type of Exchange

When arranging a swap, the homes do not have to be of the same size or standard. There are many different types of home and the value of an exchange is in the eyes of the exchanging parties. You might, for example, be delighted to exchange your four bedroomed countryside property in the Cotswolds (UK), or Tuscany (Italy)  for a two-bedroomed apartment in Madrid (Spain) or Hong Kong (China) - or vice versa. The key thing is that both parties in a exchange should be clear about and happy with the nature of the properties being exchanged, and that there should be no (unpleasant) surprises.

Members usually swap properties for equal periods of time, such as a week for a week. However, if there is a significant disparity between the size of the properties in a proposed exchange, you might agree to swap, say, a week in a larger home for ten days in a smaller one.

While Home-2-Home is primarily a home swap service, members also have the option of renting their properties to other members. If you are interested in the latter option, you will need to suggest a realistic rental rate in order to attract potential customers.

 

Presenting Your Home

You can advertise any kind of property on the Home-2-Home website ranging from a luxury town house in a major city to a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. While attractive homes in desirable locations are more likely to attract interest, different people are looking for different things. For example, a Home-2-Home member may be looking for an exchange destination that is close to a family member or friend and your property may be the ideal location.

Once you have joined Home-2-Home, it is easy to list your property. All you need to do is go to your profile page, fill in the relevant information about your home (location, setting, size, parking, features etc) and add some photos. (See our Guide to Taking Photos.) You can also list your ideal swap destinations and times. You then upload your details - which can be modified at any time - directly on to our website.

While you will naturally wish to present your home in a positive light, it is important that the information you provide is accurate and that you do not omit any relevant details. You should also ensure that information about such things as availability is up to date. (Note that you can use the Hide/unhide feature if you temporarily wish to remove your property from our listing.)

 

Searching For An Exchange

The Home-2-Home website allows you to search our listing of properties according to various criteria, such as location, size, and date. When you find a property that interests you, you can notify another member using our internal messaging system. You will also receive email notifications about people who are interested in exchanging with you.

You can save properties you are interested in using the My Favourites feature on your profile. You should keep an eye on our New Listing alert and can also check our Last Minute option to try to arrange a swap at short notice.

The more open-minded you are about possible destinations and the more flexible you are about possible dates, the more likely you are to make an exchange.

 

Length of Exchange

Most of our members are looking to make exchanges for one or two weeks; but you can arrange a swap or rental for any period that suits you from a long weekend to a month or more at any time of the year.

Swaps can be simultaneous or non-simultaneous. In the latter case, you might, for example, make your home available to someone for a week in April in exchange for a week in their home in August. A non-simultaneous exchange can work particularly well if you travel a lot, or if you have a holiday home that is empty for periods of time.

 

What's Included?

A standard home exchange includes clean towels and bed linen, together with the use of all domestic utilities, and a starter set of basics, such as soap, detergent, loo paper etc. (In a standard exchange, each party agrees to continue paying their own gas, electricity, and other utility bills.) By mutual agreeement, you may also include such things as internet access, bicycles and childrens' toys.

Additions

Pets Although you can make any arrangement that is mutually agreeable, we recommend that you do not leave pets in your house and expect your exchange partner to look after them. (However, most people are happy to water one another's plants.)

Cars Some people include their cars in home exchange arrangements. If you decide to do this, check that both parties have the appropriate international driver's licence and inform your insurance company. (Also keep in mind that if you usually drive a car with automatic transmission, you may not be comfortable with one which has a standard shift gear.)

Special Needs

Restrictions

Smoking You need to decide whether you are happy for your exchange partners to smoke in your home or whether it is strictly non-smoking.

Children Most people are happy to swap with a family with children, but if, for whatever reason your property is not suitable for children, you should make this clear.

 

Communication

Members of Home-2-Home communicate with one another via our secure internal messaging system. This means that you do not have to divulge personal information - such as your full name, address, and email - until you are happy to do so - usually when the exchange negotiation is near completion.

You should respond to enquiries of interest in a timely and courteous manner. We recommend that you try to respond to messages within two or three days. The sooner you respond and enter into a dialogue with a potential exchange partner, the sooner you will be able to arrange a swap.

When arranging a swap or rental, you may need to communicate with your potential exchange partner twenty plus times, and at some point you will probably want to have a phone converation. The more you know about one another and your respective properties, the less likely it is that misunderstandings arise and the smoother the exchange process.

 

Contracts

Once you have agreed the details of your home exchange with the other party, we recommend that you put them in writing to ensure that there is no confusion on either side. To this end, you might wish to use - or modify - our sample contract which takes you through the process of confirming exchange details and helps to ensure that nothing have been forgotten.

You might also choose to send copies of travel documents to one another to show that you have made a genuine commitment to the exchange.

 

Etiquette

1. Cleanliness
a. Your Home You should ensure that your home is spotlessly clean and tidy. With this in mind, you might consider hiring an external cleaner to spruce things up the day before your exchange partners arrive.
b. Their Home At the end of your stay at someone else's home, you should return the property in the condition in which you found it. (Note that you are not usually expected to launder towels and bed linen you have used.)

2. Welcome
a. Space Make sure that there is room for your visitors's clothes in wardrobes and drawers, and space for food in kitchen cupboards and the fridge.
b. Starter Pack The kitchen should be stocked with basics, such as coffee, tea, milk, biscuits, cooking oil, pepper & salt etc. You might also want to leave some food in the fridge for your guests' first night meal.

3. House Book Compile a "house book". This should include:
a. Instructions Instructions for utilities such as heating, air-con, shower, cooker, washing machine, dish washer, burglar alarm, garbage disposal etc. User name & password to access wifi.
b. Quirks Any quirks in your home - such as a temperamental boiler or a stubborn lock on the back door.
c. House Rules List any things that are out of bounds or should not be used by your guests - e.g. your antique bone china, the telephone, or a particular room.
d. Local Wisdom A local map, together with information about local transportation (metro, buses, & taxis), shops, pharmacies, restaurants, parks, swimming pools & other amenities.
e. Emergencies Emergency contact numbers for gas, electricity, doctor. Location of the fuse cupboard (in case a switch is tripped and the electricity goes off) and stop tap for the water supply (which is usually in the kitchen under the sink).
f. Contact Information Your mobile number in case your exchange partner needs to contact you during their stay.

4. Contact Ask a friend or neighbour to act as an agent to hand over keys and/or keep an eye on things. (You should also inform your neighbours so that they don't call the police when they see strangers in your property!)

 

Privacy

Home-2-Home take your privacy seriously and we guarantee that we will not pass on any of your information to third parties. For security reasons, neither your name, nor email, nor exact address will appear on the website. We will list only the town or general area in which your property is located.

When you wish to communicate with other members of Home-2-Home, you will do so using first names through our secure internal messaging system. This works in a somewhat similar way to facebook.

 

Safety

One of the great benefits of Home-2-Home is that rather than giving the keys of your home to a complete stranger about whom you know nothing, every member of Home-2-Home belongs to the IB community.

If you have private papers, or valuable items that you do not want your exchange partners to use, we recommend that you lock them away before departure.

In the unlikely event that you damage something during your stay at an exchange home, you should inform your exchange partner and either replace or pay for the relevant item.

 

Insurance

You should ensure that your home and contents insurance is up to date and inform the insurance company that you will have people staying in your home on a non-fee paying or rental basis. Most insurance companies look favourably on such arrangements as your home will be safer if it is occupied rather than empty when you are away. However, you are strongly advised to inform your insurance company before arranging an exchange.

 

Cancellations

It is extremely rare for members to cancel an exchange agreement. You should only make a last minute cancellation in extreme situations - such as serious illness or a death in the family. Check your travel insurance and ensure that it is flexible it is if you need to change or cancel your flight.

 

Exchange Evaluation

Each time you return from a Home-2-Home exchange holiday, we ask you to complete a brief evaluation form. This will help us both to ensure that information is accurate and to continuously improve our service.

 

Terms & Conditions

1. The Home-2-Home service is designed to facilitate home exchanges, but members are solely responsible for agreements they reach through the use of the service.

2. Member agree to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and to ensure that they do not provide any false or misleading information either to the company or to other members.

3. The information contained on the website is solely for the purpose of facilitating home exchanges and should not be used for any other commercial purposes.

4. Members should keep their user name and password confidential and must not share it with anyone else. You should notify us immediately if you believe that your log-in details have been compromised.

5. Any attempt to harvest other members' email addresses is strictly forbidden - as is collecting, storing, or transmitting of their personal information.

6. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your membership of Home-2-Home in cases of misrepresentation, abuse, breach of privacy, or any other behaviour deemed to be detrimental to the company or its members.

7. While Home-2-Home commits itself to minimising any disruptions in service, members accept that the site may occasionally be unavailable due to upgrades, routine maintenace, or outages.

 

About Home-2-Home

Home-2-Home is a subsidiary of InThinking, an innovative educational consultancy service and leading provider of IB teacher workshops.

 

Any Questions?

If you have any questions or suggestions for how to improve the site, please email us at: home2home@inthinking.co.uk