More and more people start using various hospitality exchange websites. For travelers, it’s an excellent opportunity to discover the places they visit. For locals, it’s a chance to have a glimpse of the journey without leaving their homes. For all, hospitality exchange is a possibility to meet beautiful people and share unique experiences with them. To make it as safe as it can be, you should be aware of some things. Here’s a list of insider’s tips that will help you to make the best out of hospitality exchange.
Hospitality Exchange is not just a way to get free accommodation
With the growth of hospitality exchange’s popularity, the number of so-called free-loaders grew as well. Many people try to take advantage of the hosts without an actual interest in meeting them and sharing something authentic. It’s not only the fault of newcomers but also the misleading information. All around the Internet you’ll find opinions claiming hospitality exchange is the best way to save money while you travel. People don’t make an effort to read through the websites’ FAQs, they just register and think everything will be given to them for free. Well, yes, there’s no money involved in the concept. There’s exchange, though. You receive the accommodation and give something from yourself: kindness, good company, your skills or stories. As a guest, keep in mind saving money shouldn’t be your major motivation. Of course, it’s great; no need to pretend, it doesn’t matter at all. Many people wouldn’t travel if hospitality exchange didn’t exist. Saving money is a plus; it just shouldn’t be the only reason. As a host, pay attention to the way potential guests approach you. Check their profiles; ask them questions if you’ve got some doubts. Make sure they know what the whole thing is about.
Describe yourself honestly
Profiles matter, they do. Many users have difficulties speaking of themselves, and they end up limiting the description to a sentence like “I don’t like to write about myself, you’ll find out when we meet.” Don’t do it. It might be hard to describe yourself accurately but do your best. Just tell what your interests are, what you like to go, whether you prefer to go out or stay home in the evenings, where you work, what’s your biggest passion is etc. It doesn’t have to be poetry. Most of all, it should be clear. Let others know what your expectations are. Practical info is just as important as describing your personality and hobbies, or even more. You can openly say that, for example, you won’t go party with your guests, because you hate clubbing. Or that you’d like them to spend some time with you because if people just come to sleep in your house, you feel like a hotel staff, not a host.
Read profiles and references
Look through the profiles of potential hosts and guests. It’s about finding common interests, but not only. You might end up friends with someone who listens to another kind of music, but you’ll probably not feel comfortable hosting a person with life philosophy that significantly differs from yours, or habits you dislike. References are worth checking too. People often write usual stuff there, but you might find out something interesting.
This straightforward rule will make everyone’s lives easier. As a guest, first of all, respect your host’s privacy and belongings. If they ask you to stay away from some things, do it. If they allow you to use the kitchen, or the bedroom, or anything in the flat, don’t worry and make yourself comfortable. If someone says something, they probably mean it, so you don’t have to be stressed. As a host, respect your guest’s privacy too, especially if you give them a piece of separate space. Remember people coming to your place might be tired. Perhaps they’re on a long backpacking trip or just had 12 hours long flight. Don’t push them to join your activities. Let them feel free.
Always stay assertive
That’s incredibly significant. To have the best hospitality exchange, you simply must be assertive. Let’s say you arrive at somebody’s house and don’t feel comfortable there. The host suddenly decided to organize a party; twenty people are drinking beer and chatting in the living room where you were supposed to sleep. They ask you to join them, but you’re exhausted, and all you want is sleep. Leave the house and look for a hostel or, if your host (besides of being extremely spontaneous) is a nice person, ask if you can use the bedroom. If you promised someone to welcome them in your house, but you don’t like the guest’s behavior, they leave your house messy, take some suspicious substances or do anything that seriously bothers you, ask them to leave. Take care of yourself. Remember you can always say no, whether you’re a host or a guest.
Always be honest. Don’t avoid difficult subjects and say what you think honestly. Communication is the most important part of the exchange and the best way to avoid misunderstandings. Don’t tell your guests they’re welcome to go out with you if you don’t mean it. If you want to spend some time alone with your friends or family, it’s better to admit it. At least your guests won’t end up feeling like a fifth wheel all the evening. Are you wondering whether it’s okay to stay in the house when your host goes to work in the morning? Ask them. Even difficult questions, when expressed nicely, don’t have to be awkward. And one more thing, don’t get offended when others are honest with you. Instead of feeling sorry, appreciate it.
Be kind should be a general rule for everyone in their daily lives, not only in the hospitality exchange situations but let’s give it a moment because it’s not as obvious as it seems. Travelling and hosting people can be an enjoyable experience, something unforgettable. Try to be a part of somebody’s new, great story. Be kind. Do nice things for others. Cook something delicious for your host. Make a coffee for your guest in the morning. Tell nice things to each other. Show your guests hidden treasures of the city you live. Meet them with your cool friends. Give your host a guitar lesson. Watch a comedy and laugh until you cry. Share your secrets. Make some magic – together.