Consider A Home Exchange
One way to travel within your budget is to consider a home exchange.
Have you heard about it? Home exchanges have been around for decades, but they’ve really gotten easier to arrange with the internet. They’ve become popular with families, seniors and boomers.
You basically arrange to trade your house for someone else’s house from another city, state, or country during your vacation. You get to spend a week or two in… say London… while that London family gets a beach vacation in, oh, San Diego. With hotel rates in popular areas so high, swapping houses can be a great way to save money, plus you will have a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and you’ll probably get to know the neighbors and see some things that you wouldn’t have seen from a hotel room. It can not only help your travel budget; home trades can be rewarding from a cultural standpoint as well.
Several organizations maintain lists of interested exchangers. You pay a small fee and get to look at their lists as well as listing your own house. Then you can directly contact the people you might want to exchange with and set up the details.
There are also many helpful web pages to advise you what to check on, things to settle in advance, etc. Are you going to have to feed the cats? You won’t want that if you’re allergic to cats! If you decide on a cute French farmhouse, does that come with having to feed the chickens and ducks? Do you get the use of the car? Is there a limit to how far you can drive it? Is this going to be an exchange just between adults? Families will be more willing to exchange with families… so choose your home exchange site according to their list.
We don’t advocate any sites. A few sites you can check are Know Your Trade, Home Exchange, and Home Base Holidays. Find exchange clubs on the internet, read the reviews by users, and decide which one might work best for you. Some specialize, so check to see if they are more interested in families or seniors or whatever.
Home exchanges are not for everyone. If you think you will be overly worried about someone stealing something or not taking care of your house just the way you would, maybe you should forgo the house swap and stay in a hotel. If you’re the type of traveler who wants to move around every night and not stay in one place for a couple of weeks… forget it.
If you decide to list your home for a swap, you need to be honest about what your home is like…, and you need to hope the exchangers on the other end are honest about theirs. If both of you just say “near the beach”, both of you need to find out if “near” means 5 blocks or 5 miles so there are no misconceptions. You should exchange many e-mails, maybe a few phone calls.
If you do this right, you will probably feel like you’re friends before you start this house trading adventure. Yes, friends, we didn’t want to leave you with negative thoughts about vacation house trades…. just wanted to warn you.
If you browse through the house swapping sites, you will see testimonials that most people who have tried it LOVE it. House exchangers on both sides of the deal usually think THEY’VE gotten the better end of the exchange.
Give it some consideration. If you want to save money and still have a great holiday, a home exchange might be for you.