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The Yin and Yang of Home Exchange Advice

by John Mensinger on June 15, 2013

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. On the page about her is the headline “How to travel the world and stay for free.” I find this claim an exaggeration; for most of us it isn’t that easy. Shelly lives in San Diego, California and with her knowledge and charm can travel the world. Those of us in less famous places will have to work harder and be more flexible in our destination choices. Shelly focuses on the positives of house swapping, you won’t see much about problems and what can and does occasionally go wrong. For the Dark Side visit the Alte Cocker’s post “The Nasty Side of Home Exchanging.

On a recent post Shelly Miller said that “High quality photos of your home are the single most important way to attract a top home swap.” It was a short and brief discussion of an important topic. It was illustrated with do and don’t photographs, which was clever and funny. I agree with Shelly that if you want a “top swap” you need lovely photos. I carefully review photos so we can find the best exchange available to us.

In contrast, the Alte Cocker says “. . . I think house photos are a total waste of time.” Her argument is that no one is going to take a bad photo for their listing and they won’t necessarily reflect what you really get. The Alte Cocker isn’t bothered looking for an exceptional property—she wants a nice place in a desirable location. Given her style of exchange photos aren’t important.

I enjoy and recommend both of these home exchange advice blogs.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bob June 16, 2013 at 5:02 AM

Thank you for sharing these websites.
I tend to have sympathy for both writers.

2 Shelley June 18, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Thank you for including me on your page! I am guilty as charged. I am an optimist, a glass-half-full kind of person. Life is so much happier that way!

Honestly, after 15 home swaps we have only good things to say about the experiences. Our family has seen the world because of this fabulous way of travel. What’s not to like about that?

Here’s to more fabulous home swaps!

Thank you again,


3 Brian Luckhurst June 19, 2013 at 6:11 AM

I agree John, both blogs are worth reading and yes they seem to be coming to the subject from different directions but they both get so much out of Home Exchanging. I do think good photographs are a great help but they must show an honest picture of the property. Some of the images I see on Home Exchange websites, and I include our own, make you wonder how much effort has been put in to ‘sell the property’ and attract interest from possible exchangers.

4 Lauren Kahn September 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I am going to say this again: If you want a perfect home, you will not get it from home exchanging. My “beef” with Shelly is that she seems never to have a bad experience. All the really experienced home exchangers have disaster stories.

Moreover, Shelly’s advice for baby proofing a home exchange home I find, well, bizarre. She recommends that people with babies move into your home and duct tape the sockets. What home owner would allow that? People with special needs (babies, pets, handicapped, etc.) should exchange with people in similar situations–which would solve Shelly’s baby proofing problem. Because I no longer have babies, I don’t exchange with families with babies. I love babies, but I don’t want duct tape residue all over my sockets. My house would not fit well with people who have babies because I don’t have high chairs, cribs, etc.–not to mention socket plugs anymore.

I still welcome families with school age children, by the way, so long as they understand the toys are gone. They are welcome to take home stuffed animals though, as the house is a virtual stuffed animal museum from the kids.

While I read with amusement Shelly’s enthusiasm for the home she had with all the animals–including geese–I would never take a home like that. For AlteCocker pets are a deal breaker. I simply do not want the responsibility for them on a holiday (and I don’t have them at home).

Home exchange #55 coming up!

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