We are about to embark on our fifth home exchange, and we can’t help but say again that home exchanging is an amazingly effective way to cut travel expenses. Lodging is definitely one of the top three costs of travel. Eliminating that cost leaves more money in your pocket for saving, splurging on the rest of your trip, or — better yet — for putting toward another trip!
We’ve done a few different types of exchanges. We’ve done non-simultaneous exchanges, one of three options for home exchanging. The people whose homes we stay in will come to our house at a different time, and we each have to find someplace else to be during the exchanges. If you have some flexibility, or are lucky enough to have a second home, non-simultaneous exchanges can be a great option since your schedules don’t have to mesh perfectly.
We’ve also done a simultaneous exchange, where you swap homes at the same time. This means your vacation periods have to match exactly, which can make finding a match tricky (although we’ve pulled it off for two of our five exchanges). Some people also offer a hosted option, where the owners are still in their home and you share a part of it with them. Some home exchangers choose to swap cars, too — another budget-saving option that some exchangers choose to take advantage of (we have!).
Homeexchange.com now offers a third option for home exchanges, called a Passport or Balloon exchange. This is more of a credit system, where you receive a “balloon” when someone stays in your home. You can then redeem that balloon at someone else’s home at another time. Other home swap sites use a similar, but more complex, point system that factors in location, popularity, and season.
Our next exchange will be a Balloon Exchange. While we were out of town earlier this year, some folks from California stayed in our home, earning us a balloon. We’re now using that balloon to stay at someone else’s home in Florida. This “pay it forward” system makes the program much more flexible — we love it!
You have to be a little bit trusting to have travellers come into your home, but we’ve never had a problem with an exchange. Most importantly, they’ve saved us a lot of money over the past few years. Not to mention, having a kitchen allows us to stretch our travel budget even more!
Good home exchange services provide lease-style agreements and identity verification, along with web-based communication systems. We highly recommend home exchanging — it’s one of the best ways to make the most of your travel budget!
Would you let fellow travellers stay in your home, if it meant saving hundreds or thousands of dollars that you could put toward your next trip? Let us know in the comments. And enjoy your next travel adventure, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!