Home exchange stories, Intervac

Intervac Jugendaustausch

Im Laufe der letzten zehn Jahre haben wir insgesamt sechs selbstorganisierte Jugendaustausche mit unseren Haustauschern bzw. deren Familienmitgliedern in den USA durchgeführt. Teilweise ohne Gegenbesuch, teilweise mit simultanem oder auch non-simultanem Gegenbesuch eines amerikanischen Gastschülers. Meine Nichte konnte die High School in Utah besuchen und ein amerikanisches Mädchen ging mit unserem Sohn ins Gymnasium. Alle Austausche dauerten zwischen drei und fünf Wochen. Alle gesammelten Erfahrungen waren ausschließlich positiv und die Kinder konnten nicht nur sprachlich profitieren, sondern auch ihre Landeskunde-Kenntnisse erheblich verbessern. Erst vor etlichen Tagen hat uns die Gastmutter unseres mittleren Sohnes aus Seattle besucht und die beiden konnten ihre intensive Verbindung erneut auffrischen. Was für eine tolle Erfahrung. Individuell gestaltbar, keine Isolierung mit weiteren Non-Native Speakern und auch eine enorme Kostenersparnis. Im Endeffekt fielen außer den Flugkosten und einem kleinen Taschengeld keine Kosten an. Wir können diese Austausch-Form nur wärmstens empfehlen.

Home exchange guide, Your Listing

Check your listing pictures

Have you noticed your listing pictures are now shown bigger?

The increase in size makes your house listing look nicer, but you have to have photos to match!

Quality photos

Because of this change in the size your pictures are presented, we would like you to check your pictures and see if their quality is good enough. What do we mean by quality? Well, photos are made up tiny pixels per inch, and the more pixels your source image has, the better quality it has and the better it will look on the website for your potential exchange partners.

Use photos that are 1024 pixels wide or more but not bigger than 10MB each. Have a look at our other article on photos if you want more info on how to get your image belçow 10 MB.

If necessary, upload another version your pictures or even take new pictures.

 

Taking new photos

In case you decide to take new pictures, we have some tips from the Intervac Home Exchange team.

Here is how to make new good quality house photos:

  • Take photos which are sharp and in focus
    Use a tripod and set the self-timer for sharper photos with more detail.
  • Fill the room with light before taking a photo
    Open all the blinds and turn on all the lights. Take a few different photos in each room to make sure that you have captured it in the best light.
  • Make sure the rooms are clean
    Tidy and uncluttered spaces are so much more appealing!
  • Highlight the home’s best features – and number of beds
    Try to shoot a realistic overview of the whole property, inside and outside. Make sure you include all beds, even pull-out beds your exchange partners might use.
  • Try to capture the entire room
    If you are able to capture more of the room, there will be a greater sense of space.
  • Take photos from a lower perspective
    This way you will get the best angle to display the size and layout of your home.
  • Don’t forget to shoot photos in all seasons
    This is especially true if your house has any kind of outside space or view, but it can also be relevant if you have a specific feature, such as a fireplace.

And some extra tips in a video from Reader’s Digest:

 

Copyright issues

Don’t forget to publish only pictures for which there are no copyright issues. If you found that image on Google, have a look at this article before publishing it on your Intervac listing.

 

 

Home exchange stories

An exchange holiday for your birthday?

Mandy Cavanagh is the newest Ambassador for Intervac. Here is a wonderful exchange story from her. If you have a great story too… tell us yours!

 

My husband is fortunate enough to have a birthday during the summer months, however, he is one of those ‘difficult’ people who can never think of any gift that they want! Last year, was a milestone birthday for him and I was determined to make it memorable even if the inevitable ‘just buy me a card.’ had already been uttered.

As unashamed Francophiles, we had already arranged an exchange with a couple in a village not too far from Lyon called Domarin and in late July we set off with our youngest son. With grown up children, we are now able to enjoy the journey rather than trying to get to our destination as quickly as possible so, for the second year, we stopped off overnight in Troyes. We stayed in the Aparthotel there and were able to stretch our legs while exploring the Medieval old town.

When we arrived at Domarin, we received a warm welcome from a neighbour who even managed to keep my husband’s birthday surprise quiet! The following day, my son and I set off for Lyon airport, as it became obvious where we were going, my husband became more convinced that we were going to make him jump out of a plane! He needn’t have worried, our lovely exchange partners had agreed to let my eldest son and a family friend stay for a few days as well and we picked them up without any trouble at the airport.

 

 

 

What a birthday to remember! The house itself was lovely, with a pool and a converted barn so everyone had enough space and we could all enjoy the fantastic weather. Having a mix of people with us through the holiday meant that we all enjoyed different experiences. My son enjoyed shopping in Lyon while I was able to go off with my friend to look at clothes ( a rare treat for me as I have three sons!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent my husband’s actual birthday exploring the caves of La Balme, a cool, magical experience, and respite from the heat. We loved the village of Perouges, and because of the lack of cars, it was easy to be transported back in time there. Further afield, we explored Annecy, a bustling, beautiful town on the lake and enjoyed people-watching with a wine in hand!

 

 

Back near the house, we went for evening drives in the countryside, had a rare sighting of a HUGE badger and finished our days with a swim in the pool, marvelling at our 19 year old and 24 year old sons racing on inflatable unicorns!

We have exchanged with other partners in France, Bruges, and England and know that, as well as the economic advantages of an exchange, we wouldn’t get the same experiences on a package holiday. I can’t wait for this year’s trip to Avignon…

Maria and husband
Home exchange stories, Travel

Eficacia en Amsterdam

Unas vacaciones fantásticas

El último intercambio que tuvimos fue con una familia en Amsterdam. Fueron unas vacaciones fantásticas; hemos disfrutado de la ciudad como lo hacían los holandeses. Dimos hermosos paseos por el centro histórico de la capital, disfrutando de sus canales, de los cambiantes colores de su noche y paseando  sin preocupaciones por las grandes y pequeñas arterias de esta maravillosa ciudad.

Acogedor y disponible

Disfrutamos de la eficiencia del Norte.  Nosotros vivimos en Cerdeña, donde tenemos una bella naturaleza, el paisaje del mar y mucho sol, pero, siendo sinceros, carecemos de eficiencia.

En Amsterdam, nos gustaba coger autobuses (tienen un sistema de transporte muy eficiente), sin que tuviéramos que perder mucho tiempo,  incluso para llegar a lugares alejados de la casa en la que éramos huéspedes.

Apreciamos el estilo de vida holandés, sin estereotipos; acogedor y disponible.

Visitamos Haarlem, Delf, Rotterdam con su puerto futurista y conocimos la geografía del país y la habilidad de los holandeses, que han sido capaces de transformar las tierras bajas en una oportunidad real de riqueza y bienestar. Estamos satisfechos con este viaje y como broche final, nuestros compañeros de intercambio nos han contado de su entusiasmo por Cerdeña y su mar encantador.

Maria Rosa Giannalia, IT149

Maria and husband

Maria and husband
Home exchange stories, Travel

Efficiency in Amsterdam

Fantastic holiday

The last exchange we have had with a family in Amsterdam. It was a fantastic holiday, where we have enjoyed the city. We did as the Dutch do: Beautiful walks through the history centre, enjoying the canals, mingle at the multicolors of the night, walking lightheadedly through the big and small streets of this wonderful city.

Welcoming and available

We enjoyed the efficiency of the Nord. Since we live in Sardegna, where we have a beautiful nature, the scenery at the sea and a lot of sun – but to say the truth, we lack in efficiency.

It was so easy to take buses everywhere (which were very efficient), without taking much time even to reach places far from the house in which we were guests. Dutch lifestyle suited us, not at all like the stereotypes; welcoming and available. We visited Haarlem, Delf, Rotterdam with its futuristic port, got to know the geography of Holland and the skill of the Dutch, who have been able to transform lowlands into a real opportunity for richness & wellbeing. We were satisfied with this journey. However, our partners have told us of their enthusiasm for Sardinia and its enchanting sea.

Maria Rosa Giannalia, IT149

Maria and husband

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Starting An Exchange Agreement

You’ve searched and contacted and chatted online with lots of nice people and now you have found exactly the right partner for this year’s exchange. You are ready to start the exchange agreement? This article is for you.


Starting the Exchange Agreement

Before you get started, have a look at your member home page and be sure that your listing is marked as available for exchange.
Be sure your listing is still available for exchange.

You will find the Exchange Agreements section of our site by scrolling down in the member navigation to the My Membership section and click on Exchange Agreements.

Screenshot of the ongoing exchange agrements page

From here on it’s pretty straightforward. If there is not an agreement already started by your partner, the only thing you’ll need to get one started is your exchange partner’s listing id. At the top of the Exchanges overview page, you should see the blue “Start Exchange Agreement button”. Click on it…

Start Agreement via Listing ID

First, you will see the legal text for your agreement after that, you can choose to search for your partner’s listing via their listing id, or if they are already on your favorites list, you can look there.

Screenshot - First steps in starting your next exchange agreement

Start Agreement via Favorites

In this tab, you will find each of the listings in your Favorites. Each favorite will have either a tag explaining why it is not possible to start an exchange agreement with that listing (expired or trial member for instance) or else it will have a Start Exchange Agreement link.

Screenshot - Finding your partner on your favorites list.

Clicking the Start Exchange button will create your exchange agreement and, moreover, it will automatically fill in your name and address as well as your partner’s name and address. Your partner will be notified that you have started the agreement process. You will see a new ongoing agreement card on your Exchanges overview page.


The Ongoing Agreement Card

This screen is your control panel for the progress of your exchange agreement. Just by starting, you are already 20% finished.

The next step is to click the “Edit Your Terms” button and fill in the form. Please be sure that you add at least one participant (yourself, for instance). Also, add the dates you will be arriving and leaving your partner’s home.


Member Questions

 What does that mean: Use “n/a” if the field does not apply to your situation.?

The abbreviation “n/a” is commonly used in English and it stands for “not applicable” (does not apply) or “no answer”. For the purposes of our exchange agreement, you can also use a “–” or any other abbreviation common in your language. The main thing is you should not leave any of the text fields blank.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Filling out your Exchange Agreement Form

Filling out the form

Ok, first off, I’m going to go through the whole agreement form in this post. It is a bit long, but I hope this helps you with your next exchange agreeement.


Contact Details

Screenshot - Partner Information on Exchange Agreement

Having chosen your partner and clicked the Start Exchange Agreement button our system made one of these forms for you and one for your partner. You can see here that it has automatically filled in both of your names and contact information. You can choose to show your email address and/or mobile phone number on your working exchange agreement. This information will only be displayed here. It will not be visible to other members or your exchange partner via the contact information on your listing.


Holiday Dates [required]

Screenshot - Holiday Dates on Exchange Agreement
In the next section you should give the dates you will be staying in your partner’s home. Remember, your partner’s form is independent of yours so be sure to put the dates you are planning to be there. Your exchange partner should put the dates they are planning to be in your home.

Member Questions

Member Question Question: What if it is a non-simultaneous exchange and one party doesn’t know their dates yet?

The form requires that you add dates in order to save it. Since non-simultaneous exchange usually requires more planning, we recommend you choose something close. You will be keeping in touch with your exchange partner anyway.

Member Question Question: I am having trouble getting the dates to work. What am I doing wrong?

Exchange dates calendar
These date-picker calendars on the web all work slightly differently and that can be troublesome. Here is what you need to do to use ours:

  1. Click on the white date field (highlighted with a blue frame).
  2. Set the year by clicking on the year – it will give you a menu to choose from.
  3. Choose the month via the little dark triangles in the gray Month bar (first red arrow)
  4. Then choose on the day that you want by clicking on it.
  5. The date-picker calendar will disappear and the year, month and date you chose will appear in the box.

Exchange Participants [required]

Screenshot of exchange participants section of the exchange agreement
This is where you list all of the people who will be staying in your partner’s home. You will not be able to save your form if you do not have at least one person in this section.

The new form loads with space for one participant. To add another one participant, click the grey button “Add a Participant”. Fill in the name and age of the next person traveling with you.

To remove someone from your party, just click the red “trash” button next to the name of the person who will not be accompanying you after all.


About our Cars

Screenshot of our cars section of the exchange agreement
Next, you’ll find a text box where you can write any important details about your car. If you need more room to write, just click and drag on that little “handlebar” in the lower right-hand corner of the text box.

Some things that you might want to mention are:

  • Where you will leave your car keys and where your partner should put them when they go home.
  • The condition of your gas tank when your partner arrives and when they leave.
  • Whether or not you expect your partner to wash or vacuum the car before they leave.
  • If you have more than one car, which one(s) are available for your partner’s use.
  • Other insurance details beyond the scope of the checkbox.

Telephone and Internet


Update: This section used to be called “Regarding Long Distance Calls” but has been changed to better reflect how members are using it. (March, 2014)

Some things you might want to clarify here are:

  • Whether your partner may use your phone for making toll calls and how payment for them is to be handled.
  • The availability of Internet and any connected costs + how payment for these is to be handled.
  • Where you will leave the wifi credentials. For security reasons, please don’t leave them in your exchange agreement.

Special Cleaning Requests

Screenshot of Cleaning Requests section of the Exchange Agreement

In this box members often write about:

  • Linens: Should your partner wash them before they leave? Change the beds? Do you prefer to do this yourself?
  • Yard work/plant watering that needs to be done while you are away.
  • Where your partner can find cleaning supplies.

Regarding Keys to My Home

Screenshot of Regarding Keys to Our Home section of the Exchange Agreement

That one is pretty clear. This is the place to arrange pick-up and drop-off of keys.


Regarding Pets

Screenshot of the Regarding Pets section of the Exchange Agreement

Anything you want to agree with your partner about taking care of your pets?

  • Location of pet food.
  • Number of times a day to feed pets.
  • Exercise schedule (how many times a day Fido needs to go outside and where his leash is kept).

Other Special Requests

Screenshot of other special requests section of the Exchange Agreement

What have we missed in the list above? This is the place to mention it.


Stipulations

Screenshot of stipulations section of the Exchange Agreement

Three easy checkboxes to give your partner explicit permission to use your linens (or not), to bring their guests into your home (or not), and to bring their own pets.

After that, it’s time to save your form – and that is all this button does. It does not send your terms to your partner but assumes that your agreement is a draft. When you are ready to send your terms to your partner for review, you will find a button on the Exchanges Overview page.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Sending & Reviewing Terms

Sending and reviewing terms and conditions

You’ve filled out your form and you are all ready to send your terms to your partner for review.


Sending Your Terms To Your Partner

You can do this from the Member Home navigation. Scroll down to My Memberships > Exchange Agreements > Then click the View link near the agreement you want to send.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to send terms to a partner
Clicking the blue “Send to partner” button will send your partner an email to let them know that the exchange process is moving along and that you are ready for them to read the terms you filled in.

Member Questions

Member Question Question: I am unable to edit my terms. What am I doing wrong?

Because of the back-and-forth nature of exchange agreements, our system keeps a lock on each form allowing only one party at a time “edit” access. When you send your terms to your partner, your partner receives “edit” access – by which they are only able to Accept or Decline what you have written. They can not make changes to your text.

If you need to make a change at this stage, it’s best to contact your partner and ask them to decline the term you want to change and send the agreement back to you for edits.

Reviewing Your Partner’s Terms

When your partner is ready for you to review their terms, you’ll see a button in the box for your Partner’s Terms.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to review the partner's terms

Click the button and you will see the form that your partner filled out. Underneath each item is a set of buttons. Each of your terms is shown to your partner with two buttons “Accept” and “Deny”.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to accept or decline the partner's terms

To signal your approval with each set of terms that your partner has written, click the “Accept” button.


Not In Agreement? Have a Question?

If you are not in agreement with something your partner has written, or more likely, if you have questions, use the “Decline” button. When you click it, you have the opportunity to write a note to your partner

Screenshot after clicking the Decline button

… and that note will show up next to the title of the category when they look at their terms.

Member Question Your partner will also receive an email that there were updates to an exchange agreement process as well as notification message on their member overview page the next time they login.

Once you have made changes to your terms based on any suggestions your partner has, be sure to save the form and send your terms to your partner via the blue Send to Partner button again.


Late Editing Your Terms

It is important that your terms are clear and you are satisfied with them. So, don’t be shy about making changes back and forth up until your agreement is signed.

Once your partner has accepted all your terms though if you want to make changes to them – you will need to click the Unlock Agreement button in the upper right-hand corner of your agreement form. This button is a reminder that any changes you make to already accepted terms will set the process back and require that you send your terms again for your partner to review and accept.

/blog.intervac-homeexchange.com/assets/pages/guide/exchange_agreement-unlock_agreement.png

Once you and your partner have reached an agreement, and you’ve accepted each other’s terms it is time to get on with Signing Your Exchange Agreement.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Finalizing Your Exchange Agreement

Finalizing your agreement

Once you and your partner have reviewed each other’s terms and accepted the conditions your agreement is ready to finalize. You can tell that it’s time when the green “Review and Sign Agreement” button shows up.

Screenshot of an exchange agreement ready to sign

Remember, if you want to edit your own terms, you must first click the red Unlock Agreement button in the upper right-hand corner of the form. Any changes to your terms will set the process back and require you to send your terms to your partner for agreement again.


Reviewing the Agreement

Clicking the “Review and Sign Agreement” button will show you again the agreement, but this time in full with your dates and conditions as well as your partner’s – all in a single, printable document.
Screenshot of an exchange agreement ready to sign

Finalizing the Agreement

Screenshot of the exchange agreement sign button

In this screenshot, you can see that the agreement form keeps you up-to-date with the process by giving you a button to “Sign the Agreement” and also telling you, in the blue box, that your partner has not signed the agreement yet.

Or, in the green box, that you partner did already sign.


Cancellation?

Even though one of you has signed, it is still possible to cancel the agreement.

As soon as both parties have signed, the cancel button is no longer available and the agreement is moved
from:
Exchange Agreements > Overview
to:
Exchange Agreements > Future Vacations.

You can view and print the agreement any time you like but you can no longer cancel it.


I hope you have found this series helpful and wish you happy home exchanging!

Home exchange stories, Intervac

82ND – Wintertime in Greece!

As we have just retired, exchanging houses is on top of our bucket list! So we have had the opportunity to exchange houses with a Greek family.

Evdokia and Minas from Kavala near Thessaloniki had contacted us just before our New Year’s exchange in Leeuwarden, European cultural capital of 2018.

We booked our flights and were lucky to exchange cars also. And so we arrived in the middle of winter at Thessaloniki Airport. 

After searching car keys and texting each other where to find the cars, we were ready to explore Thessaloniki.

An amazing city full of culture, Roman and Byzantine and a lot of hidden spots we hadn’t expected. We admired the beautiful churches and “The Rotunda”! In ancient times its mosaics must have been as splendid and impressing as the ones we had been able to admire in Ravenna during a former exchange.

Soon it was time for our first Greek coffee and surprisingly, even in wintertime, we could enjoy a frappe! Love it!

In the evening my wife and I reached the lovely seaside village Palaio near Kavala. Thanks to the neighbours we had a very warm welcome and the great meal Evdokia had prepared made us feel most welcome!

During our exchange, we visited Filippi, the old town with the forum and its splendid theatre, all without the overpopulation of summertime visitors!

We loved the beautiful walks into the Nestos Valley, enjoyed wandering around unspoiled small towns like Drama, Amphelio and Kavala.

We took a boat trip to the island of Thasos, visited its beaches and white marble quarries. In Skala Panagias we witnessed inhabitants dancing in the streets.

Just Greece as we like Greece to be.

Happy people, enjoying life.

And so did we, being Greeks for ten amazing days!

Frans and Sonja / BE022

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This is part of the Intervac Home exchange stories series. Do you have a story yourself? We would love to hear about it! Tell us your story.