By Brian Luckhurst
Home Exchanging or Home Swapping is when you agree to swap homes, and often cars, with someone; you stay in their home and they stay in yours, and no money changes hands. It is an economical way to holiday and an exciting way to travel, to experience other cultures and see other countries differently, through local eyes, not as a tourist.
Home Exchange for holidays is not a new concept, indeed it was started in the 1950s by a group of teachers, however more and more of us, from all walks of life, are now doing it, not least to save money in these financially difficult times.
Not surprisingly, we oldies, seniors, baby boomers, silver surfers (whatever we wish to call ourselves) are becoming great fans of Home Exchanging. We tend to be more flexible on dates with more free time available, we don’t normally have to worry about school holidays as we are often empty nesters, and cost savings are very important to us. I also think we are of an age when we like the idea of seeing things from a different perspective, we no longer like being seen just as tourists and often prefer to live more like a local when on holiday.
My wife was horrified when I first mentioned Home Exchanging, “I can’t have someone staying in my house, anyway no one would want to, it needs too much doing to it” or words to that effect. She wasn’t worried about the security or privacy aspect, simply, that our house wasn’t smart enough to let others stay in it.
Many potential exchangers have similar thoughts, with others having more concerns over the security aspect of having strangers staying in their home, which to a degree is understandable, but don’t forget you are staying in their home. What do you think is better, leaving your home empty whilst you are away on holiday or having someone staying in it and looking after it as if it were their own?
Home Exchange is built around trust. Trust in the people you exchange with to describe their home and location honestly and trust that, when they visit, they don’t damage your home and belongings. Home Exchange is often the beginning of lasting friendships which are built around this trust.
Home Exchanging can take several forms. A traditional Home Exchange is when you exchange homes at the same time. A non-simultaneous exchange, which offers more flexibility, is when one or both of you have alternative accommodation available, often a second home, and therefore the dates for the exchange do not have to link and the exchange happens at different times for each party. One exchange takes place in the holiday home whilst the owner remains in the main residence, and then that owner visits the exchange partner’s property at a later and more convenient time.
Hospitality Exchange is the third type and this is when you take turns staying as guests in each other’s homes. This form of exchange appeals to the more sociable amongst us and I think works particularly well for singles, who are often worried about travelling alone in a different city or country and it also helps to avoid the dreaded supplements that single travellers often have to endure. Providing space and the number of bedrooms aren’t an issue, you may also consider Hospitality Exchange if you have someone else staying at home, like a lodger or older offspring, where a traditional exchange may not be appropriate as you can’t provide an empty home.
It is normal and good practice when exchanging to leave a welcome pack with lots of interesting information about the property but, more especially about the area and what can be done and seen locally, where to shop and eat, some exchangers even arrange for the neighbours to pop in to introduce themselves. Often with Hospitality Exchanges this local info is taken to the next stage with the home partner acting as a local tourist guide taking you sightseeing, for a meal out and even perhaps for a round of golf at their club.
Home Exchange – why do it? Saving money is the obvious benefit – with no accommodation costs, the savings can be substantial. Imagine how much more you will have to spend by not paying hotel bills or villa rental! Other major savings can be achieved by swapping cars, sports equipment and even boats, by not having to dine out every night, even by playing as a guest at your host’s sports/golf club.
You have the freedom to do what you want, when you want, armed with the more intimate local knowledge of your exchange partner rather than just a guide book.
Well, is Home Exchanging for you? Why not try it and see? Once you have tried it, I am sure you will want to do it again.
Home Exchange is the holiday alternative and a great way to travel at a significantly reduced cost.
Brian Luckhurst – www.homeexchange50plus.com
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