Home swapping could be the key to a low cost holiday.
If you want a fun vacation without the sting of a mammoth hotel bill, home swapping could be the answer.
Yes, it does involve allowing complete strangers into your place but a global survey of home swappers found 93% were satisfied with their experience and 81% had swapped homes more than once1. Moreover, the benefits of home swapping go beyond saving money.
The same research confirmed home exchangers typically possess a deep cultural curiosity with an interest in heritage, museums and nature parks.
Before saying ‘my home is yours’ to people you’ve never met, it is critical to be realistic about whether you are comfortable about the situation. Home swapping doesn’t just mean inviting people you have never met in person into your home. It can also mean swapping cars for the duration of the holiday or even asking your guests to take care of family pets.
Sign up with a middleman
If you’re definitely interested, the first step is to sign up to a home swap website. There are dozens available – just Google ‘home swap’. These sites act as the middleman connecting home swappers from around the world. You will typically need to pay a sign-up fee, ranging from less than $100 for home swapping within Australia to around $300 for a year’s subscription to a global home swapping network. Some sites offer monthly membership, which may be ideal if you’re unsure about the whole idea.
Once you’ve joined, your home will be listed on the site’s database, and conversely you will have contact details for likeminded home swappers. From here it’s a matter of making contact to find someone in your preferred destination who wants to vacation in your area.
Allow time to arrange a swap
Understandably, finding the perfect match among other home swappers can take time. So it may not be the most suitable option for a last-minute getaway. A successful home swap can be months in the planning, meaning you need to allow plenty of time. Importantly, if you do find a mutual match always have travel insurance in place as people can unexpectedly bail out of the arrangement at the eleventh hour.
Make contact – and lots of it
One way to settle first-time home swap jitters is to get to know your exchange partners long before you pack your bags. Phone calls, emails and even Skype conversations will help you get a better feel for what your guests are like. It’s also an easy way to clarify arrangements for things like vehicle use or care of pets and gardens, though many home swap websites have basic contracts that can be customised for your arrangements.
Is it safe?
Fair question. Home swapping is generally viewed as a safe arrangement – after all you’re staying in their home while they are at your place, so an element of trust goes both ways. That said, it’s always wise to conceal valuables or leave them with friends and family. As a precaution, ensure you have adequate home and contents cover in place, and check with your insurance provider that a home swap arrangement is covered by your policy.
Have you home swapped before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
If you found this article useful please share it using the buttons below.
1. University Of Bergamo media release: Study Finds Over 75% Of Home Exchangers Agree “Most People Trustworthy, August 2013 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/university-of-bergamo-study-finds-over-75-of-home-exchangers-agree-most-people-trustworthy-215506471.html↩