House swapping, or home exchange, is an increasingly popular alternative way of traveling and for some has even become a lifestyle. With the help of the World Wide Web, home exchange, in which two parties agree to swap their homes for a set period of time without any monetary exchange, has now become an easy way to plan the trip of your dreams all in the comfort of being in a home. There are a number of websites you can join, pay a membership fee and search for the perfect fit for your next trip. The benefits to this type of travel are numerous. By switching homes, you are also in a way switching lifestyles. You get to experience local life where you travel and get to meet people you otherwise may have not met. You get to know your hosts and their neighbors and friends, many of whom become close friends. You get insider knowledge and recommendations on where you are staying. You could choose a house with a pool, by the sea or in nature, the sky is really the limit.
The budget factor is also a major benefit to this form of travel. Not only is accommodation made free, but in many exchanges, cars, bikes and even boats as well as numerous amenities are also exchanged. You get to save costs by cooking in, all while enjoying local products. Many times house exchange hosts will arrange their trips to overlap for a day in order to pick up and drop off one another up from the airport.
The website allows you to make contact with homeowners wanting to exchange, so many times an online friendship has already developed in order to explain the particulars of each other's homes and cars and even pets. The additional bonus of house exchanging is that often pets are involved.
Not only is house swapping the perfect solution if you have to leave a pet behind, but it can also be a wonderful experience for those who don't have pets to give it a try.
For example, families with children could use this opportunity to teach children the responsibilities involved with caring for an animal. In addition, families with children can also arrange to stay in a home with kids of a similar age, which provides the benefit of having a whole set of different toys available without having the burden of traveling with them.
My mother Angela and her husband Gene from Bodrum are avid house swappers and have exchanged their house in Yalikavak with homes in California, France and Italy. In addition to staying in more modern homes, they have also occupied a cabin in the woods and a stone house with a pool. They also have pet-sat an enormous amazon turtle and an iguana in addition to cats and dogs. Sharing the benefits of house swapping, Angela says, "You really get to live a normal life in their shoes and go to their baker and butcher and such.
In addition, you have the comfort of a house and garden, instead of being in a cold hotel room. You can also control the budget completely, as you can cook at home if you so choose. With the exception of airfare, a month's vacation can cost you the same as it would at home." There are several types of ways to swap homes, the most popular of which is a "simultaneous exchange" of houses at a time designated by both parties. Those who have second homes have the option to do a "non-simultaneous" exchange in which both parties take turns at times of their convenience.
A "hospitality exchange" is when people take turns hosting each other in their respective homes at designated times. There are numerous house exchange websites such as homeexchange. com, homelink.org, intervacusa. com, digsville.com, where people sign up, pay a membership fee, upload a profile and navigate for the perfect match. Search criteria are based on destination, date, number of rooms and number of travelers.
Reverse searches allow users to find members interested in visiting their specific area. Members then exchange messages to determine whether their respective homes and planned vacations are the perfect match.
Fellow house swappers tend to get acquainted as they discuss the finer details and by the time their mutual trips take place they are no longer strangers. For my mother and her husband, in addition to experiencing unique stays in various destinations around the world, they have also built long-lasting friendships with the people they shared their beloved homes with as well as with their neighbors and friends, who helped them settle into their home away from home.
Yet another interesting mode of budget travel, hospitality and sharing economy is setting up a work exchange. In a work exchange, one party hosts another, which provides a service with no monetary exchange. The services rendered could be anything from childcare, language learning, eco-building, and mosaics, among others. The possibilities are literally endless and can be arranged on the website workaway.info.