You have already found your exchange partner. You have agreed on the type of swap (reciprocal or using VanVanPoints) and the dates (simultaneous swap or at different times). Congratulations, you have done the hardest part!
There are other details you might want to discuss to make sure you are both on the same page avoiding any unnecessary surprises.
1. Make a plan for handing over the keys
If you are organizing a simultaneous exchange you will not be physically there to welcome your guest. You will have to figure out a way of handing over the keys as well as explaining the details about your van.
We have made a list of solutions for this in our post about How to hand over the keys. Which one would you be comfortable with?.
2. Write up a user guide
All our members own a house on wheels and therefore have plenty of knowledge and experience when it comes to this type of vehicle. However, each van, motor home, caravan… is different and has its own quirks and needs. If we want our guest (and you) to have a worry-free holiday, we could provide them with a user guide explaining how to use the heating, the refrigerator, and the stove, as well as any other specific aspects of your vehicle that might require further explanation, such as doors that jam or drawers that tend to fly open while you’re driving, etc, etc, etc… (ahhh the wonders of vanlife)
Apart from the user guide, there might some matters that you would like the user to keep in mind for the duration of the swap. Use our checklist to make sure you don’t forget to discuss anything that is important to you: level of cleanliness…what is allowed and what isn’t…how to deal with any mechanical problems…
After a few messages, you will realize whether you are contacting the right person. You do not need to accept anything you are not comfortable with. Remember that it is very likely that your concerns are exactly the same as the person you are going to swap your van with.
4. Contact list
When you travel to an unfamiliar place it is always helpful to have people to turn to. Leave your contact number and a contact number for a trusted friend, a reliable mechanic, roadside assistance, etc.
5. Hot spots, hidden gems, recommendations, …
Don’t forget to recommend those places that you wouldn’t want someone to miss while travelling in your van. We’re not talking about the typical tourist guide recommendations, but those places that you have discovered (restaurants, camper stops, free parking, supermarkets, etc.) and are sure to be winners! Also, anything related to regulations that might be different from one country to another!
6. Basic supplies
The van is essential but it is a nice gesture to leave a few items that will make your guests more comfortable and feel more welcome. An up-to-date GPS set to their language, bed linens, a few basic food items or a bottle of wine will make them feel right at home!
Just think about the little details you would like to find.
Most of this is common sense. But, it is important to have discussed everything before you accept it. Once you have reached an agreement you can both sign our contract if you find it convenient.
You are more than ready to swap! If you have just come back or want to know what to keep in mind upon your return, keep reading.