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.
Home Exchange has now become a legitimate and reliable alternative to more traditional forms of travel and not surprisingly, baby boomers are becoming great fans. We tend to be more flexible on dates with more free time available, we don’t normally have to worry about school times 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 vacation.
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 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 second 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 traveling alone in a different location and it also helps to avoid the supplements that single travelers often have to endure.
Home Exchange – who does it? It would be incorrect to think of those who home exchange simply as budget travellers, for that is far from the truth: they represent a wide cross-section of the travelling public. A recent survey showed that 70% of home exchangers are over the age of 45, 60% regard themselves as highly educated, 25% are self employed and 24% are retired.
Home Exchange – why do it? Saving money is the obvious benefit – with no accommodation costs, the savings can be substantial. The same survey listed 33% of home exchangers’ motivation was to save money, 23% wanted to travel more often and swapping homes allowed them to do so, and just over 18% are looking for the authentic cultural experience that comes with staying in a home.
Is Home Exchanging for you? Why not try it and see? Once you have tried it, I am sure you will want to travel this way again.