Did you ever see the movie, The Holiday? In it, Cameron Diaz is fed up with her busy Los Angeles life and decides to swap her mansion with an anonymous stranger. The stranger, Kate Winslet, lives in a tidy cottage in England and the two spend the Christmas holiday in each other’s homes.
This charming movie exposed a lot of people to the idea of house swapping, where you trade homes for a week or two with someone else. Instead of staying in an anonymous hotel, you stay in their home and they stay in yours. Millions of people swap homes every year all over the world. And for the frugal or budget-minded, swapping homes is one of the best ways to experience a new place and save money on your vacation at the same time.
How Does Home Exchange Work?
Home swaps usually occur simultaneously. For instance, imagine you live in New York and want to visit Paris for a week. First, you’d find someone in Paris who wishes to visit New York. Then, both of you would vacation at the same time and stay in each other’s home during the same week. However, if you’ll be away on business or a separate vacation while they wish to visit, you can still swap out your home. In this case, you simply arrange to stay at their home at a later date.
Hosting an Exchange
AirRentalz.com also allows you to “host” your exchanger. This is called a hospitality exchange. You can go down this route if your vacation times don’t match up or if you simply like the idea of hosting.
Basically, you stay at home while your exchanger visits one week, and then you visit them a different week. Swapping homes while you’re still at home allows you to develop friendships with your exchange family and get an inside look at who they are.
Benefits of Home Swapping
The benefits of home swapping are many and make for a unique vacation experience that isn’t available via traditional lodging options.
1. It’s Low-Cost
When you swap homes, you don’t pay a dime for your lodging. The only cost associated with house swapping is the membership fee for the online listing service (which is essential to find someone to swap with). These fees are usually $100 or more per year, but since the average price for one night in a hotel often exceeds $100, most people find this to be a bargain. Another travel expense that can get prohibitive is eating out. But since you’ll have a full kitchen to cook in, you won’t need to eat three meals “out” every day. Plus, you’ll get to experience local grocery shopping, which can be quite different in other countries. Further, if you and your host agree to swap cars, you’ll eliminate car rental costs as well.
2. Live Like a Local
Staying in someone’s home rather than a hotel is often more comfortable; there are usually movies to watch, books to read, and perhaps even toys for your kids to play with. Some homes have a pool or fitness room as well. Remember, when you swap, you’re in an actual home and not an impersonal hotel room. You’re also more likely to get a better sense of the area’s culture because you’re in a neighborhood rather than a hotel. Living amidst “the locals” can add a depth of perspective to your trip that you would otherwise miss out on in a hotel or tourist-centric area.
3. Utilize Your Home or a Second Property
Home exchange is especially easy if you have a vacation home. Because you’re not living there year round, you don’t have to try as hard to coordinate schedules. You can make your home available to a wider array of exchangers with different travel needs.
How to Get Started House Swapping
Though it takes some effort, house swapping isn’t a difficult process. Follow the steps below:
1. Listing your home online with AirRentalz.com is the first step. There are several highly respected websites that allow you to do this.
2. Create Your Listing
Your next step will be to create a listing for your home. The more detail you provide, the better. Include plenty of photographs as well as a thorough description of your home’s location and amenities. Talk about your neighborhood and area and let people know why they’d want to stay there.
List how many people will participate in the exchange and whether or not you’ll be traveling with children. You want to make sure the exchange is a good fit for both of you.
Don’t forget to mention your pets as well since may exchangers will be happy to look after them in your absence. More importantly, others may have allergies. Also, clarify whether or not you smoke and if you’ll allow others to smoke in your home.
3. Find Someone to Exchange with
Once your listing is created and posted, you’ll need to search for a good match. This process can take time, although if you’re in a desirable location, it may take less time than you’d think.
However, you’ll still need to get to know the person or family you’re interested in swapping with. Start by looking carefully at the pictures they’ve provided and ask if they have any references they can give you from past swaps.
Why not start today and set up your property profile with AirRentalz.com. We also have an option where you do not even need to stay at the same person’s place.