1. Low cost holidays
The first reason people get into house swapping is to save on travel costs. No money is exchanged; you stay in their house and they stay in yours either at the same time or non-simultaneously if you can arrange it. The cost savings can be huge in popular tourist destinations such as Paris, New York and Rome. Not only do you save on accommodation costs you can comfortably self-cater in a fully equipped kitchen.
2. The richer benefit of living like a local
Jeanette Wehl and her husband Greg have lived like locals all over the world with house swapping. “We have swapped in the UK, France, USA and The Bahamas to name just a few. Our most memorable experience where we really felt at home was in Florida. Some locals, friends of our swappers, took us out to a Blue Grass bar and later to a Blues bar. Women’s underwear was hanging from the ceiling and the music was amazing. Our hosts told us stories, like being proud of having made it to Woodstock, but only just: she was nine months pregnant at the time. We have made many friends through house swapping, there is a real community feeling to it.”
3. It is great for holidays within Australia too
Kimberly Uldridge has found swapping a great experience for holidays within Australia, offering unique stays that her and her husband would not normally have looked for. “We have house swapped in places like Mildura and Sydney. The most memorable was in rural Lilydale in Tasmania. Staying in an eco-house, high on a hill looking out over fields full of sheep, was a complete an escape from our usual lives in inner city Melbourne.”
4. It is a mature service these days
Inviting strangers into your house can be a disconcerting experience so make sure you join up a house swapping network that is well established. HomeLink (www.homelink.com) is the oldest network which began in the 50s and has local Coordinators in 27 major countries. This means there are people keeping an eye on things, offering support and knowledge for the global community. They breed an environment of respect and trust for each other’s homes.
So, give it a go. You could gain a lot more than just cheap accommodation.