Imagine completely cutting out expensive hotel costs while also enjoying the space and convenience of a stylish away from home while on your vacation. You can do exactly that by arranging a home swap. Home exchanging is not a new concept (it started in the 1950s) but over recent years has become increasingly popular as more people discover the benefits.
By Mark Sealey.
Mark Sealey of Home Base Holidays (www.homebase-hols.com), a leading London based home exchange agency, says: “Home exchanging appeals to many people – people who enjoy staying in stylish accommodation but still appreciate the cost savings, location independent professionals that use home swapping to travel to new exciting destinations but still have a base to conduct their work, families with children who may choose to swap with other families whose home will be geared for their needs, retirees who now have the freedom to enjoy longer vacations and independent travellers of all ages who like exploring local, less touristy areas.”
Quotes from home swappers
“We have made lifelong friends all over the world. We all seem to be like minded travellers who just enjoy the experience of visiting new countries, staying in lovely homes and meeting new people.” – Bev M. (Bev’s home in Newnham-On-Severn, Glos., England, is a 17th Century Merchants house with many original features including oak beams and open fires, and views over the River Severn and the Cotswold hills). View offer
“The best thing about house swapping is it gives you the opportunity of experiences you would NEVER get in a hotel!” – Judith S. (Judith’s holiday home is an ex-farm worker’s cottage in the tiny, friendly hamlet of Magnac Laval, Limousin, France). View offer
Key benefits of a home exchange
- Free stylish vacation accommodation!
- Live like a local – experience different cultures and places first hand
- Home comforts – your home away from home
- Make new connections – meet new friends around the world
- Your own home cared for – homes that are occupied are safer than homes left empty
Ten tips for a successful home exchange
- Give yourself time – allow time to find the perfect home swap for you.
- Be flexible – if possible be flexible with your exchange dates and be open to interesting destinations.
- Provide detailed information – enter details about your home and surrounding area. People often like to swap with others in similar situations to themselves so it’s also good to provide brief details about you and your family.
- Be proactive – contact a number of members with ‘feeler’ messages regarding a potential exchange.
- Ask questions – make sure you and your potential exchange partner know exactly what has been agreed, e.g. agree who will pay utility bills, repairs, breakages, use of food, cleaning materials, bed linen and towels (Home Base Holidays provides a draft agreement form to adapt).
- Prepare a Welcome Pack – create a simple folder of information for your home swap partners. This can contain information on your home and appliances, useful telephone numbers, tourist leaflets, maps, guide books, train and bus timetables.
- Friends & neighbours – it’s useful to provide the phone number of a friend or neighbour who can be contacted in emergencies. It’s a good idea to also provide them with a spare key.
- Clean, clean, clean – make sure your home is clean and tidy before your guests’ arrival, with space for their belongings, freshly made beds plus extra bed linen and towels.
- Keep in touch – stay in contact with your exchange partners, from your initial agreement to completion of your exchange, as this builds mutual trust.
- Enjoy your exchange holiday! Do remember to leave the home exactly as you found it and leave a little gift and thank you note.
Home Base Holidays was established in 1985 and has thousands of attractive home swap offers available worldwide:
travelmemo.com readers are offered a 20% discount on membership to Home Base Holidays. Enter TRAVELMEMO in the promotional code box when joining (regular membership rates: one year £29 or two years £39).