Home swapping can add a variety of "local living" experiences to a vacation. And with the growth in both demand and providers for home swaps since the pandemic, frugal travelers with an adventurous streak have more options for finding a great place to stay and vetting trustworthy folks to swap with.
Here are four ways that a home swap could make your next trip more memorable, and more affordable.
1. Travel for less.
When you home swap you spend your vacation staying at someone else's home. But unlike an Airbnb, you "pay" for your stay by letting the homeowner stay at your home, often at the same time. Some online communities match home swappers for free. For added security and ease of use, you can work through a company like Home Exchange that verifies its users and charges an annual membership fee to connect swappers.
In addition to the lower cost of lodging, a home swap can also help you save money on meals and getting around. Find a nice spot in a comfortable neighborhood and you'll be able to shop for groceries and use public transportation. Some home swaps include amenities like cars, bicycles, and boats, saving you rental fees. Folks who try to engage in sustainable travel can also lower their trip's carbon footprint by avoiding the mass tourism infrastructure and support the local economy by patronizing small businesses. You might even spend some of that money you're saving on an extra night out ... or an extra couple days of vacation!
2. Enjoy flexible options.
Most home swaps fall into one of four categories:
- Simultaneous: You and your swapping partner stay in each other's homes at the same time.
- Non-simultaneous: You and your swapping partner stay at each other's homes at different times.
- Non-reciprocal: Lodging for only one traveler. Some home swap sites allow their members to earn points from non-reciprocal swaps which they can then use for their own travel at a later date.
- Hospitality: The homeowner is present while the traveler is visiting. This is an excellent option for swappers who have large homes or accommodations for guests.
Travelers can use different types of home swaps to extend their stays or add extra legs to longer vacations. Mixing and matching can also be a great way to form new friendships with likeminded travelers that can lead to some new destinations for your bucket list.
3. See and do more.
A vacation can get stale once you've crossed the major attractions off your to-do list. But your house swap partner or service provider could be a valuable travel guide, keying you into restaurants, shops, and entertainment off the beaten tourist path. A little bit of exploration can give you a much more authentic experience of your destination than you'd have staying at a resort or hotel. You'll also have more opportunities to sample the local culture and interact with new people.
And, after those long days when you do decide to stand elbow-to-elbow with other tourists, you'll have a little extra room to stretch out, relax, and recharge.
4. Worry less while you’re away from home.
Getting comfortable with the idea of someone you don't really know staying at your home can be a challenge for some people. Working with a home swap service that verifies its travelers can provide some extra peace of mind. And there can be advantages to having a house guest while you're on a trip. Some house swap sites include pet sitting options. You and your partner might agree to collect each other's mail, take out the recycling, or water the houseplants.
Are you interested in home swapping? Let’s meet to discuss more pros and cons and figure out how to get the most Return on Life from your travel budget this year.