Your trip is coming up quickly. You’ve planned it for a long time and can’t wait to be off. But a week before your departure date, you open your email to find a message from your home exchange partner: “We’re so sorry, but there’s been a family emergency and we have to cancel our trip.”
Yikes! You’ve bought airline tickets for the whole family and scheduled the time away from work. You’ve all been looking forward to this trip for months. You feel stunned. What are you going to do?
Figuring that out would be easier if you’d thought earlier about the possibility that something could go wrong. Nothing about a home exchange is fixed in stone. Even if everyone does their best to live up to the terms of the exchange, things happen. So when you draw up your home exchange agreement, discuss the possibility of last-minute cancellation with your home exchange partner and include contingency plans..
Here are a few options.
Ask your exchange partner for help
Perhaps your exchange partner has a relative, friend, or neighbor who would like a house-sitter or would let you stay in their second home. Most people will be more than willing to help.
Check with other people in the area who had expressed interest exchanging with you
You may have corresponded with several other people before settling on this exchange. Get back to one of them to see whether their place is still available.
Reach out to customer service at the home exchange listing site
Some listing sites will help you find and arrange a last-minute exchange with another home that meets your criteria. Even if the site offers no such help, you can search the listings for someone who is willing to do a last-minute exchange.
Try to find a non-simultaneous exchange
Most home exchange listings include an indication of whether the people will consider a non-simultaneous exchange. Contact some of those people to see whether they might let you stay in their home for this trip, in return for having yours available to them at another time.
Postpone your trip
This option might not be possible – you may have nonrefundable airline tickets, your travel dates are fixed, or your exchange partner may not be able to travel at a time that’s convenient for you. But if you and your exchange partner have enough flexibility, perhaps putting the trip off for a few weeks would still make it possible to go.
Look for a hotel or rental home
If you are unable or unwilling to cancel or postpone your trip and can’t find another exchange, look for a hotel or rental home at your destination. You may need to spend more than you’ve planned, but at least you’ll still be able to make the trip.