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Cancelling a Home Exchange at the last minute (x2)

by John Mensinger on April 23, 2014

Agreeing to a home exchange is a serious commitment. When is a family justified in breaking a house swap agreement? A death in the family, a serious health problem, or a natural disaster would be a reasonable justification.
We had agreed to an exchange this month in the UK. The British family bought their airline tickets and was looking forward to their first ever house swap. On March 3rd the General Manager of my business announced he was leaving as of March 31st. This created a crisis and there was no way I could imagine leaving for three weeks on vacation.
The first step was to let the British know that even though I might have a problem they would be ok. They would be able to use our home and car as agreed, even if we weren’t able to make it to the UK. I was prepared to book a hotel so the British could use our home though it turned out that friends offered to host us. One family offering us a home had been our guests on a home exchange. They understood the situation and wanted to help.
Our British partners were sympathetic, making the point that if we couldn’t make it to the UK for a simultaneous exchange they would allow us to use their home in the future when they were on a traditional vacation.
As the weeks passed I felt better about the trip. A former manager agreed to come out of retirement to man the fort during my absence. Two new employees were hired. An important trip objective was to see our daughter, who is studying in Edinburgh. Less than 3 weeks before the exchange we booked airline tickets. We had a second exchange planned in England for June, and if we decided not to go in April we could always change the dates on the tickets (for $300 plus the difference in cost.)
Less than two weeks before departure the gentleman of our British family was in a horrible road accident. The lady sent me a long e-mail with a photo showing her partner heavily bandaged in a hospital bed. We agreed to cancel the swap; I changed the dates of the air tickets for the June exchange. My wife went as scheduled to Britain to visit her parents and our daughter. I am very sorry that our partners had a family tragedy but ironically it was better for me to be at work during a challenging time. If I had been free for a vacation I could have gone and stayed with the in-laws, which admittedly isn’t as much fun as an exchange.
Life and home exchange are unpredictable. We have enjoyed 19 exchanges, this is the first cancellation. Home exchangers need to be flexible, creative, and gracious in dealing with problems. There are many benefits to house swapping; you need to keep this in mind when it occasionally doesn’t work out as anticipated.

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Finding your Chalet in the Snow—Home Exchange for Skiers

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Yes, there is now a home exchange agency focusing on those lucky folks with cabins, chalets, or condos in ski country. Snowswappers.com is an attractive option for winter sports enthusiasts who would like to explore the world. This kind of specialized site might appeal because it is a quick and easy way to trade your [...]

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The creative folks at Love Home Swap have come up with a new way to exchange your home. You pledge that your home will be available for a family to use for a specified two week period or long weekend. You are awarded with “swap points” which you can use to book a home that [...]

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Our French Extended Home Exchange Family in Brittany

October 23, 2013
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One advantage of trading your home is the support of your partner’s friends and family. These folks can help solve problems, recommend events and activities, and show you local culture. On the day we arrived in France the parents of our home exchange partners came by to say hello, show us the home, and give [...]

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Cheap food and drink, free music at festivals in Brittany

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We spent three weeks in Brittany in July and August on a home exchange. We had done our research and knew there were many large events we could visit such as the Festival of Cornouaille or the Celtic Festival . I wrote about these in an earlier post. What we didn’t know is that every [...]

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A Home Exchange Fable from the Wall Street Journal

July 16, 2013
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The Wall Street Journal of June 29, 2013 had a well written home exchange story. Emma Staub is a novelist; she swapped her Brooklyn home for a place in Los Angeles. She was working on a novel set in Hollywood and thought being there would help—which it did. She arranged the swap quickly and casually, [...]

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Home Exchange and Travel Insurance

June 30, 2013
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Insurance is a complicated subject because laws and policies vary by country. Everybody’s situation is unique. Certain home exchange agencies, for example Knok, offer insurance to their members. Knok’s policy provides cover for damage to an exchange home, but they also recommend that their customers consider travel insurance. Many home exchange travelers wonder if it’s [...]

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The Yin and Yang of Home Exchange Advice

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My last recommendation for home swap advice was Lauren Kahn, also known as the Alte Cocker. For something completely different try Shelly Miller, the Home Exchange Expert, who has a degree in Journalism and is enthusiastic and positive about her favorite way to travel. Her website is beautiful and impeccably linked with Facebook and Twitter. [...]

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Home Exchange Wisdom from your Jewish Grandmother

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Lauren Kahn is an experienced and opinionated house swapper. She has completed 51 exchanges on three different continents and has three more planned this summer. Her blog on home exchange can be found at altecockertravels.weebly.com. I think alte means old and travels is self-explanatory. I will pass on figuring out the rest. Lauren is feisty [...]

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More on Love Home Swap

May 20, 2013
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The best way to understand how a home exchange website works is to use it to find a trade. I had this opportunity with Love Home Swap. As mentioned in a previous review, this is a well-supported and financed business. The graphic look is reminiscent of Architectural Digest and House Beautiful. Most of the tools [...]

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