By Beth Simmons
Save money and get an intimate experience on your next vacation by staying in someone else’s home! How about spending the weekend in southern California, a week in Tuscany, or longer in Australia?
All you need to do is buy your plane ticket, because your room and board are covered! Here’s the catch: you have to return the favor by offering your home in exchange for theirs.
If you haven’t considered this travel opportunity before, it’s time to start. Home exchanges are popular for their low coss, private living arrangements, and first-hand culture experience by staying at a local’s residence.
The idea of switching homes with a stranger can make people cringe; however, this response is changing with businesses now specializing in house swapping. HomeExchange.com is a perfect example. This website has thousands of members located all over the world willing to trade their homes for yours.
Home Exchange members give a detailed overview of their homes in their listing. They include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, classification of home, amenities, local attractions, pictures, number of people in their party, a written overview, and preferred destinations. This gives users great references during their search for the perfect match
All this easily accessible information has not always been so easy. Beginning in the early 1990s Home Exchange did everything by mail. Imagine life before email?! Members were mailed a print-out directory and after finding a potential exchange partner, they would reach out to them via mail. Today’s fast paced Internet enables instantaneous communication, making this laborious process hard to visualize.
Ed Kushins, President of Home Exchange reveals his inspiration for the business: “I did a home exchange back in 1992 and enjoyed it so much. I had such a hard time finding someone having the service, so it started as a hobby and slowly I built it up. When the Internet came around, I saw it as a real opportunity to post the market of home exchanges and make it a fast.”
There you have it. If you’re having concerns about trading your home, just think: this has been going on for decades! Kushins saw the opening for the service and decided to fill the void by starting an official business.
To become an active member on Home Exchange all you have to do is pay a fee of either $9.95 a month, $15.95 for three months, or $119.40 a year. There are no additional payments needed to participate in a home exchange, essentially you are vacationing in someone’s home for free. There are no household requirements to join the Home Exchange network. Many apartments, condominiums, and even yachts are available.
Second Year Fre
Home Exchange guarantees its members their second year free if they don’t find a home exchange partner during their first full year of membership. So if you thought no one would be interested in vacationing in your home, chances are you’re wrong, but just in case you’ll be guaranteed membership free of cost!
Kushins explains, “There are a few people for one reason or another that don’t get an exchange. Personally I think it was because they weren’t trying hard enough. You have to include a photo in a posting to be taken seriously.”
If you like the idea of Home Exchange but are uncomfortable with others staying in your home without you there, you can also participate in what is called a hospitality exchange.
These are listed on the website as well. Kushins clarifies the difference between the two vacation options, “A home exchange is when someone’s in your home while you stay in their home. Oftentimes you don’t even meet them. Hospitality exchanges are when you allow someone to stay in your home while you’re there as well.” Hospitality exchanges provide an opportunity for live-in tour guides of the area.
Several Exchanges a Year
Ed Kushins and his wife do several home exchanges a year. “We probably do two to five a year. Just yesterday we finalized an exchange in London. We’ve also done exchanges in San Francisco, Colorado, Switzerland, Palm Springs, Ireland, and Paris, as well as a hospitality exchanges in Italy and Ireland. The place in Ireland was fantastic! A huge house and great hosts that showed us around the 10,000 square foot property.”
Just last month Kushins completed a hospitality exchange in Italy by reciprocating as host to the Italian villa owners in his Hermosa, California home.
Dwight Zivo of Chicago has been a member of Home Exchange for three or four years now and shares memorable exchanges, “One time I took my kids and we started out in northern California by Santa Cruz. We drove all the way down to Hermosa, California. Another good experience was this past Father’s Day when I did a home exchange in Boston. We swapped cars, stayed in an old Victorian home, and went to a Red Sox game, which was pretty cool.”
If this interests you be sure to visit HomeExchange.com! Join the community of members and begin the hunt for an exciting vacation experience where you feel the comforts of home while you’re away!
TRY IT OUT! HomeExchange.com
READ MORE ABOUT HOME EXCHANGES ON GONOMAD:
Beth Simmons is a former editorial assistant with GoNOMAD and graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts.
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