I wrote an article a while ago about the idea of home exchanges. The article was titled, Paris on $50 a Day.
One a trip to a hot springs, not far from where I live, I met a guy who was talking about the great deals he was getting by swapping out his time share with properties all over the world. It allowed him to travel to the time share and live in a place without the hassles of paying the going nightly, room rate. On the surface it sounded great until I thought about it some more.
It got me to thinking about vacations and how a budget traveller might go about saving some money by doing a home exchange. Going on vacation gives you an opportunity to take a break from your hectic schedule. But sometimes looking for a place to stay can be a hassle for the particular area or country you choose and the length of your vacation.
Home exchange gives you an option to steer away from the costly holiday villas and hotels. Are you familiar with time shares? Basically, the concept is the same but swapping homes can give you more benefits. To become eligible for house trading, all you need is a property and willingness to trade it with someone else.
You can check out the The ABCs of Home Exchange by clicking this link to another article I wrote about Home Exchange and the finer points to know.
With a time share you pay a large fee for the week or two of your choosing and often there is a monthly maintenance fee as well. In Colorado where I live, time shares in ski areas are very popular.
The problem for budget travellers is these time share fees and initial going in price, cost some really big dollars. And you pay them every year.
A home exchange on the other hand can be a one time trip, or it could be done more often. But the choice is up to you. You decide if you are going and when. There is no large going in price and no monthly maintenance fees. There might be a fee to join one of the many Home Exhange web sites for having them facilitate the arrangements, but that is it.
When swapping your home with another family, there is no need to search for a similar house or apartment. All you need is to search for a location that suits your needs and caters to your interests. The practice of swapping homes is widely popular in major cities and developed countries such as the United Kingdom. but there are many of places these days like France, Italy, Australia, and you name it.
In addition, if your house is located in a vacation area or a huge tourist destination city, then finding a house that suits your needs can be a breeze. However, even if your house is located in the country, it is also easy to look for potential partners (the people you are exchanging with) since most people living in the city would like to have a break from their hectic schedule.
People are used to spending their vacation in a hotel room that could eat up a large portion of your holiday budget. This is where you can benefit most from home trade as you can save the money intended for accommodation to spend for sightseeing, sumptuous dinners, engage in different activities, or go to expensive destinations.
In addition, staying in a home can also be an opportunity for cooking your own meals. You can save on renting a car as well since swapping cars can also be negotiated.
Moreover, swapping homes is commonly practiced by single travelers, couples, and families. If you have a family member with small children, you can negotiate with a family with children of similar age. Retired individuals and employees with flexible schedules can greatly benefit from home trade since they can arrange their trip after finding a suitable home.
However, some people feel uncomfortable letting other people stay in their homes. In times you like these, the best remedy is to get to know your partner (the people you are exchanging with) well and clear issues right away. You can do this by exchanging e-mail or photographs or chatting on the phone. If you want to reassure yourself, ask for a professional referral.
Moreover, you should also seek clarification on the issue of cleaning expectations since it is one aspect of the exchange that can be subject to misinterpretation. You can send a third party, such as a family friend, to check or conduct an onsite inspection before and after the home trade.
Finding a place to go on a vacation need not be expensive. If you are tight on your budget, home exchange can give you an opportunity to have a memorable vacation.
Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy