house keysFrequent travelers, Couchsurfing members, and those expecting visitors from the airport often need to exchange physical keys for homes and apartments – which can be both cumbersome and awkward when schedules don’t align. Reader and house-swapping traveler Renato has been struggling with this recently and asked me,

What are some good ways to exchange physical keys when you can’t be there in person to do it yourself?

As Renato illustrates,

Just in the last 4 weeks I have been struggling with it 3 times around Europe: sometimes you swap places with someone (great way to travel), other times you invite a friend to stay but you are not at the airport when they arrive, or a Couchsurfer sleeps a few extra hours when you are already out.

I [recently] left a set of keys for a friend in a locker (with a code) in Munich’s train station (a huge box for a single key!) – am looking forward to receiving an envelope from California – and I found a coffee paid at the local bar in Milan (with a set of keys instead of the sugar).

Does any traveler know a better and safer way to sort it out?

It’s been a while since I did a travel unravel but have no doubt in your ability to leave extremely helpful comments. I’m sure many of you know of some good tactics, websites, and traveler services to take care of just this kind of scenario with cost and security in mind. I’ll be expanding upon this topic next week but wanted to get your experiences and advice first so I can be sure to include your best ideas as well.

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[photo by: Merida Hideaway (house keys)]