Guest Post – Home Exchanges

This week we’ve invited our friend and blog queen, Sara from Go Gingham, to do a post on home exchanges. We haven’t done a home exchange yet, but Sara and her family have done several, and she’s convinced us to try it. We think this entry might convince you, too. Feel free to leave her a note in the comments, and if you like what she has to say here, pop on over to her blog to see more of her stylishly frugal ideas!

Which would you like to receive at the end of a vacation? A thank you note or a hotel bill? If you answered a thank you note, home swapping might be for you!

My favorite way to travel is to home swap and after 8 home exchanges in 8 years (4 in the U.S. and 4 in Europe), I’m ready to go again! When you home exchange, you get to stay in a home with a kitchen, live like a local in a non-tourist area, and skip having a bill handed to you upon checkout.

More reasons to home swap:

  • Your home is occupied and being cared for during your vacation. Those are services you don’t have to pay for either.
  • You get to make new friends. Home swapping makes the world seem smaller.
  • Your expenses are lower so you can travel again more often.
  • You may go somewhere new that wasn’t on your travel radar.

Rest easy.

When I first brought up the idea of home swapping to my husband, prior to our first home exchange to Paris, he was pretty much against it. He had concerns about the treasured items in our home (luckily, we don’t have any) and I had to do some research to convince him that inviting strangers into our home was a good idea. This is what we’ve found with home swapping: once you communicate by email and perhaps talk on Skype or the telephone with your home exchange partner, they’re no longer strangers but they’re more like friends.

Sign up for a service.

Many home exchange service providers offer a 2-week trial period. This is a good opportunity to see how a particular website works and how easy it is to contact people. While I like the idea of trying something for 2-weeks, we’ve never had luck arranging a home exchange in a 2-week time period. It’s always taken us longer to find someone to trade homes with and then there’s a “dance” that goes along with home swapping – timing? pets? number of bedrooms? car swapping or no car? All of these details take agreeing or not agreeing to and there are emails back and forth.

It helps me to keep in mind that for the price of 1-night in a hotel room, I can pay for a 1-year membership to a home exchange service. There’s no limit to the number of exchanges that can be arranged either, during the 1-year membership.

When it comes to home swapping, no one is looking for a perfect home – just a place to call home – for a time.

Home swapping makes traveling affordable, you get to live like a local, and make new friends. Home swapping has allowed our family to travel places we would have never considered or been able to afford if we didn’t have a place to stay for free. Our next trip? Victoria, British Columbia for spring break. Where would you like to go on a home swap?

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