Home swapping is such a rewarding way to travel and so this list could have been much longer, but here are six good reasons why you might want to consider going on a home exchange vacation.
1. Saves you money: free vacation accommodation
This is the most common reason people get into home swapping, the cost savings. By swapping homes you completely cut out the cost off accommodation, which is often the most expensive part of a vacation ...especially when travelling with the family. Cutting out the cost of hotels / rentals can cut the cost of your vacation by over 70%. As well as having a rent-free home from home, many home exchangers are also happy to swap cars during the home exchange ...giving you more flexibility and saving you even more money. Living in a real home means having a fully equipped kitchen, ideal for preparing breakfasts or a packed lunch for a day out exploring.
|"I used a home exchange for my lodgings, which I obtained by going to an agency based in London, Home Base Holidays. I had a wonderful time in London and also saved a lot of money by cooking some of my meals at 'home' (I liked shopping in the local markets and little shops) - this meant I could afford to splurge once in a while on excellent meals out." - Arthur (Australia)|
2. Get off the beaten track: travel like a local
When staying in hotels, you're often in the most touristy (and over priced) areas. Of course it's great to see the famous sights but when staying in a hotel it's often hard to get a true feel for your destination and less chance of stumbling across some hidden gems. However, by arranging a home swap, you're staying in a real home in a 'real' neighbourhood. Even more than this, by arranging an exchange you'll have got to know the people you are swapping with - real locals that will be more than happy to share local tips and recommendations. Most home swappers also prepare a welcome pack with information about things to see and do, nearby transport, emergency numbers, etc - all invaluable information to make you feel welcome and to truly get to know your destination. What's more, as people get more into home swapping, they often get more open to new destinations that they may not have previously been on their travel radar ...and so experiences the real joys of exploring the world off the beaten tourist trail.
|"Mixing and mingling with the locals will give you a real sense of what it is like to live there. You could never get that unique "local" feeling in a hotel" - Ann (UK)|
3. Home from home: space and convenience of staying in a real home
Forget cramped expensive hotel rooms, stay in a real home! Sure, hotels can be convenient but nothing beats the space and comforts of staying in a home. You'll have all the conveniences of a fully equipped home, which can be a real plus for family vacations. You'll have a kitchen to prepare meals, a living space to relax in and you may be lucky enough to have a garden.
|"We arrived at the house in France late on a Saturday. The house was amazing. As we entered the kitchen, I exclaimed, "Goodness, their kitchen is nearly as big as our downstairs!" We love peace and quiet and spent many days sitting reading under the trees or swimming in the small pool." - Kathy (France)|
4. Eco friendly: home swapping is a greener way to travel
Tourism and the environment is always a difficult balance. Of course, if you were to fly half way around the world for a three day home exchange, it could never be classed as 'eco-friendly'. However, home exchanging is an excellent way to help cut waste and make full use of our resources. It's so sad to see so many places around the world damaged by over development; knocking down neighbourhoods to build new hotels or shopping malls aimed at the tourist market. By swapping homes, you're not increasing the demand for hotel rooms but you are staying in a real home in a real neighbourhood ...often exploring and supporting local shops and markets.
|"Actually, there are also deeper layers of thought to the home exchange idea. When you think about global waste and conservation, the idea of combining resources with other people on the globe has more merits than those you experience on a personal level. Think of all the hotel sheets and towels that are washed every day; of the low-paid hotel workers (often foreigners); of the huge and wasteful industry that has grown around the needs of people who want to experience a holiday in a different country." - Ruti Singer (from 'Home Away From Home')|
5. Ideal for families: travelling with children (toys, books, babysitters...)
Swapping homes is perfect for many families with young children. Swap homes with another family and your exchange home is bound to include lots of new treasures for your children to explore - toys, books, games, dvds - and often local playmates, baby equipment and babysitters too!
|"As a family, we have stayed in many different types of homes and neighbourhoods and had experiences we would never have had if we not been on a home exchange. My children still talk about the open air cinema in Switzerland (the tickets were left as a gift), the ice cream they received from the kindly neighbour during the heatwave in France, the children who came to call when we stayed in Ireland, the invite we received from our exchange partners' friends in Canada to use their pool, the neighbours who called with fish from their fishing trip, etc." - Joanne (North Wales)|
6. Pet and plant care: extra bonuses of swapping homes
Many home exchangers are happy to look after each other's pets. This can be a valuable extra benefit of swapping homes as it saves on kennel fees and enables a pet to happily stay in their home. Pet care during a home swap usually means caring for pets such as cats, dogs, fish or other small animals ...but I've even once seen a llama mentioned in a home exchange listing! It's also not that uncommon to see chickens shown in a home swap offer - freshly laid eggs for breakfast might be a nice added bonus!
If pet care is required, obviously discuss this from the start with any potential home swap partners as it might be a big no for anyone suffering from pet allergies.
It's not just pets! It's always sad to come home from a vacation to find your house-plants or garden's flowers have perished, however, many home exchangers will be more than happy to give your plants some water while you're away.
|"I love animals. I used to have horses and help on a farm and have a dog at home with my parents so I would be more than happy to look after any animals you might have." - Kirsty (Canary Islands)|
Interested in home swapping? Sign up to Home Base Holidays for free!