Getting our home ready for guests checklist

As home owners, we strive to provide our exchange partner guests with an exceptional home experience.

The thought of being overwhelmed by making our homes and apartments “exchange ready” is what keeps many first time exchangers from committing to exchanges. As home exchangers, we are proud of our spaces; modest, swanky, and in between (houseboats, campers, whatever we list). We have taken the time to list our homes and share photos. We are almost ready to take the plunge. However, even experienced exchangers can feel stress over the idea of doing a deep cleaning, moving closet stuff, clearing household and family belongings, and ensuring basic home improvements are made. With so many heartfelt responses to the Is anyone else overwhelmed by making their home/apartment “exchange ready” that it keeps them from committing to exchanges? post on the People Like Us Home Exchangers Facebook group, I realized we all experience stress as we preparing our home for guest arrivals.

With more than 25 happy exchanges on a variety of home exchange platforms, we had already copied some successful habits of our exchanger partners. One of the best ideas I embraced was a departure checklist. As a guest in someone else’s home, I finally knew what to do when we departed! Providing a departure checklist for our guests helps set expectations. The departure checklist provides a more granular level of detail to launch conversations about cleaning, taking out the trash, and generally reaching consensus on who does what.

We been doing home exchanges since 2009. Preparing for your arrival has kept our home tidy and repaired. We are flexible and resilient. Our home is lived in, so it’s not perfect. However, we do want it to gleam and glisten as if we invited our friends over for a party.

I belatedly realized that having my own Getting our home ready checklist can help reduce stress so I’m not exhausted before the travel begins.

Getting Our Home Ready Checklist

This is our work-in-progress checklist we use to prepare our home for your arrival.

  • Prepare your home for your exchange partners as you would for a cherished friend or family member.
  • Do a thorough cleaning of floors, bathrooms, kitchen.
  • Clean the refrigerator and toss or give away opened perishable foods. In the week before the exchange, we use up all the old produce and little bits and pieces. Wipe down shelves and make room for our guests.
  • Make space in at least one kitchen cupboard for your guests.
  • Do the laundry so the baskets are not filled with dirty laundry and there are clean kitchen and bath towels for guests.
  • Buy a new kitchen sponge, make sure there is enough dish soap, dishwasher soap, laundry soap, paper towels, and other paper goods.
  • Ensure there is starter coffee and creamer, tea bags, sugar, and other essentials.
  • As communicated with your guests, leave them with starter food for their first breakfast and basics like olive oil, vinegar, spices.
  • We like to provide a bowl of fresh fruit. Some exchangers didn’t eat the fruit, so now we leave a note in the refrigerator to enjoy or toss.
  • We have on occasion left a bottle of wine and two wine glasses on the table and a welcome note.
  • Some exchangers have mentioned that they leave fresh flowers. We have done this in previous exchanges, but some guests didn’t toss the flowers after they died, so we no longer leave cut flowers.
  • Ensure expectations are clear about what you invite your guests to use and enjoy, and what you expect them to use and replace. A clear communication during the planning stages and a written list in your home book is helpful for all of us.
  • Leave instructions for how your guests will let you know if essential supplies are low or have run out.
  • Run the dishwasher and empty it. We wash dishes by hand the morning of departure. 
  • Do a thorough wipe down of the kitchen counters and patio table.
  • Make room in the bedroom closets as agreed.
  • Put away your personal items in the bathrooms and leave room for your guests. We have a tray we put everything on and then put on a high shelf in our closet so we can easily retrieve when we return home.
  • Provide a hairdryer.
  • Make sure there is soap and shampoo in the showers. For soap, you can provide a wrapped new bar of soap or a bottle of liquid bath gel.
  • If requested, empty bedroom drawers (we have found we don’t need to empty drawers like we originally thought).
  • Put out suitcase racks or provide a space for guests to put their suitcases.
  • Empty all the trash cans.
  • If the AC is on, set AC to auto 78F/25C. Set heat as appropriate if you live where you use heat.
  • Make sure doors and windows are tightly closed and locked.
  • Make sure trash cans and recycle bins are inside the fence. Leave clear instructions on how your guests will manage trash and recycle.
  • Put out your guest book. Note any peculiar situations. Leave room in the guest book for written feedback.
  • Put out a paper of paper and pencils/pens. These note taking items are what I miss most when I arrive in another home.
  • Leave instructions for communication during their stay. When your guests can ask questions, then everyone gets their needs met.
  • Check the closets for our belongings.
  • Check the outlets to be sure we have our charging cords.
  • Take photos of your home now that it’s tidy and sparkling. You can use these photos to update your listing!
  • Leave your departure checklist so everyone knows what is expected when the exchange is completed.
  • Pat yourself on the back for being well prepared to receive guests in your home.

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