Home Swap: How You Can Experience Living Like a Local

Looking for a change of scenery? Are you tired of your same old four walls? If you’re interested in trying out a new location, why not do a home swap? Whether you’re renting an apartment in West Palm Beach, FL, or considering moving to Portland, OR, this type of arrangement can be a great way to experience a new place without having to commit to a long-term lease. However, you should keep a few things in mind if you’re thinking about committing to this type of housing exchange. 

To help you get a better understanding of how a home swap works, the benefits of this arrangement, and how to get started, we spoke with some of the top home exchange and travel experts in the country. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

What is a home swap?

Simply put – a house exchange, also known as a “home swap” or “apartment swap,” is an agreement in which you stay in someone else’s home, and they stay in yours.

That said, there are actually a few different types of home exchanges that can occur. In a “simultaneous exchange,” you stay in your exchange partner’s home while they stay in yours. In a “non-simultaneous exchange,” you stay at a home swapper second home or vacation home. In a “hospitality exchange,” you stay as a guest in a swapper’s abode while they’re also in the house.

A home swap is a great way to experience living in a new city or country without moving permanently.

Choosing the right company for your house swap

There are many benefits to using an official home swap company for a house exchange. These companies are usually run by experienced staff who know how to facilitate a home swap properly. They also have well-established systems and procedures in place to make sure that the swap goes smoothly. Additionally, official websites often have a large pool of potential swap partners, which increases the chances of finding a good match.

Travel site, International Travelers, recommends working with a reputable and well-known home exchange company. “One of the most popular online networks for house swaps is Home Exchange which currently has a $175 annual fee for membership. This site allows you to list your home, view homes in other destinations worldwide, message homeowners, and arrange an “exchange agreement” to stay in each other’s homes.”

Expert tip for narrowing down your options: “There are almost 60 active home exchange networks, so it can be daunting to pick one to join. Some key features are the size of the network and exchange options. You want the network to have a selection of homes in the destinations you want to visit and have simultaneous or flexibility for non-simultaneous stay options,” says travel advice site Share Traveler. “To make it a bit easier, I’ve created a spreadsheet of all the networks and a guide to selecting the best one for you.”

“Home exchanges offer a more authentic, warm, and budget-friendly travel option compared to traditional hotels or rentals. There are options for luxury homes as well, like HomeExchange Collection, which offers an exclusive community for those with extraordinary homes.”

Things to consider when picking the location of your home exchange 

What kind of experience do you want to have?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a location for a home exchange. First, think about what type of experience you want to have. Are you looking to be in a big city or a smaller town? Are you considering international exchanges? Do you want to be near the beach or in the mountains? Once you know the type of experience you’re looking for, you can start narrowing down your options.

Pro-tip: Consider destinations off the beaten path 

Long-term travel advice site Fifty Plus Nomad shares, “You may want to look for exchange partners in more out-of-the-way places. For example, almost every exchange service has many listings in France. Instead of looking for a partner in or near Paris or on the Cote d’Azur, you may want to consider exchanges in places in or around Toulouse, Marseille, or Lyon. These are all amazing places with rich cultural attractions that will also allow you to experience more of typical French life.”

What size and type of home are you looking for?

Another thing to consider is what type of home you’re looking for. If you have a specific kind of home in mind, that will help to narrow down your options. For example, if you’re looking for a beachfront property, that will help limit your options to locations with waterfront homes.

What is your budget?

Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget. Home exchanges can be a great way to save money on your vacation, but you’ll still need to consider the cost of the exchange itself. Make sure to compare the cost of the exchange with the cost of staying in a hotel or other accommodations to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The benefits of home swapping, straight from the experts

Home exchanges offer a variety of unique benefits. Below, travel experts share some of their favorite aspects of home swapping.

You can save money traveling to your dream destinations

“Apartment swaps and home exchanges are a fantastic way to travel without spending a lot of money. Make sure you’re going through a trusted site and an owner with plenty of real and positive reviews,” recommends money-saving travel site Johnny Jet.

Home swaps can be great for traveling families 

“If you are traveling as a family, you’ve got a chance to handle young children and maintain a family routine more readily. At the same time, you’ve got a chance to take day trips and explore from your new home base. A home exchange makes perfect sense,” shares travel site Mark’s Travel Journal

The opportunity to experience living like a local 

“Doing a home swap gives you a unique opportunity to live like a local. You can experience life in a new place through the eyes of your exchange partner in a way that is even more authentic than renting an Airbnb. This “slow” style of travel is perfect for anyone who wants more than just traditional tourism. It’s also a great way to test the waters if you’re contemplating a move to a new location,” says Poppin Smoke.

Home swapping can be an all-around great experience

“Home swapping is an amazing, affordable way to travel and explore without leaving the comfort of a fully furnished home behind. You’ll experience the day-to-day life like a resident of the country you’ll be visiting, making your visit so much more immersive,” shares travel and adventure blog The Wildest Road. “The most rewarding part of home swapping is the friendships you’ll build over time, creating lasting connections worldwide.” 

Frequently asked questions about home swapping 

Do you have to own a home to participate in a house swap?

You don’t need to own a home to participate in a home exchange. Renters can do it, too, as long as you have the permission of the relevant parties. Check with your landlord and read your lease to see if you’re allowed to rent your place out to strangers. 

Can I swap cars too?

Most of the time, yes, car swapping is often part of the home swap arrangement.

How much do home exchanges cost?

Most home-exchange programs charge users a membership fee to list and search for homes and get in contact with members. Each company has various pricing structures and membership options, so spend a little time researching to find the one that fits you best.

How can I stand out from other applicants for a home exchange?

“As you might imagine, the best swaps, exchanges, and housesitting opportunities also have a lot of competition. If you want to stand out from other applicants, record a video introduction of yourself, showing off your personality, talking about your values and your unique approach to home swaps,” says travel community and advice site TravelFreak. “People want to know who they’re swapping with and feel safe and comfortable with that person, so make sure you let them know who you are.” 

Photo by Muffin Creatives on Pexels.com

Final thoughts on home swaps  

Before agreeing to a home swap, do your research on the other party and the home itself. This includes checking out reviews and speaking to the other party to get a sense of what they are like. You should also ensure that the home is in good condition and a safe place to live. Home exchanges can be very rewarding and offer the opportunity to travel to different places and learn about other cultures while meeting new people and making new friends.

Originally published by Redfin

How COVID-19 Changed Air Travel for Good

airplanes parked at the airport
Photo by Ahmed Muntasir on Pexels.com

Before COVID-19, airports worldwide were buzzing with activity, with one flight after another taking off to an exciting destination. Families went on vacations together, and friends planned annual summer trips, sometimes flying to the other side of the world.

Everything changed when COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, airports were shut down, and airline companies had to park their planes and keep them inside hangars. Everyone had to stay at home.

Even if things have eased up a bit after three years, things aren’t really back to normal. There is some level of normalcy, but COVID-19 protocols are still very much around. The rules may no longer be as strict as when air travel first reopened, but some changes need getting used to – for both the travellers and the airline industry. After all, the pandemic is still here – and it probably will be for a long time.

Airline companies have gradually started operating again, but things are not how they used to be as certain changes have had to be made in the global aviation industry. Commercial airlines are back in business, but for those who have the financial capability, the best option is to charter private plane services wherever they have to go.

Whether you take a commercial airline or charter a private plane, certain changes in air travel may be around for good – or at least for several years. Fortunately, with the current positive developments in the COVID-19 situation, some of these changes may be welcome news for you and other travellers. 

Changes in Air Travel Post-Pandemic

1. Pre-travel information for travellers coming into the U.S. and those travelling to other countries. 

If you are travelling to international destinations, it is your responsibility to get information about COVID-19 protocols and related recommendations, including those coming from the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The said government agencies may have firmer rules and warnings for some countries, especially those with high numbers of COVID-positive individuals.

Similarly, you also need information from authorities in other countries you are travelling to. Requirements and restrictions vary according to the current COVID-19 status of the destination you are headed for.

2. Face masks are no longer mandatory in many countries.

Woman putting on a face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Masks are a sensitive issue for many travellers, with over 5,700 reports of passengers displaying disruptive, violent behaviour while on the plane, mostly because of disputes about wearing a mask. This will no longer be a problem, however, as U.S. authorities recently announced that face masks are no longer necessary for airline travel.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have also dropped the mandatory wearing of face masks in airlines and airports. Both authorities, however, still recognize that wearing face masks is still one of the most effective and easiest ways to protect oneself from the COVID-19 virus.

However, passengers who are sneezing and coughing are highly encouraged to wear face masks at all times during their travel. Vulnerable passengers must wear high-protection masks, such as KN95, N95, or FFP2.

The rules for face masks vary from one airline to another, specifically those travelling to destinations where mask-wearing is still a strict requirement.

3. COVID-19 vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC no longer requires travellers from foreign countries to submit a proof of negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery before going onboard their flight. This took effect on June 12, 2022, at 12:01 AM ET.

However, the CDC will continue with its periodical assessment of the need for testing, particularly when there are new COVID-19 variants. Since the virus continues to evolve, the CDC will implement full health and safety measures to protect the public when the situation calls for it.

While COVID-19 tests and recovery documents are no longer necessary, authorities still require non-citizen, non-immigrant travellers entering the U.S. to present proof of vaccination against the virus.

4. Change in booking behaviour

Although the number of bookings continues to increase, airline representatives still notice some hesitation on the part of travellers. Many now prefer to book their flights or buy tickets at later dates, sometimes even one day before their chosen departure date. Planning flights months ahead is considered by many as too risky with all the uncertainties of the pandemic.  

5. Budget airlines

Several low-cost airlines did quite well during the pandemic, and some new ones have even launched their services quite recently. While these flights are nothing like the business class types that sell for thousands of dollars, there are reasonable enough alternatives for travellers who need to travel on a budget, especially now that airline fares continue to shoot up.

Most budget airlines travel U.S. and European routes and allow the affordable purchase of one-way tickets. Amenities, such as in-flight meals, may not be available for all flights.

Aside from low-cost airlines in the U.S., travellers may also want to check out budget airlines in Tokyo and the Dominican Republic. Travellers looking for new destinations to visit may also find budget airlines interesting.

6. More travellers prefer private jets.

Private jets at an airport
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

When airports reopened after the long lockdown, the private jet industry thrived because they became the preferred means of air travel by many. Private jets weren’t a new thing for the rich and moneyed, but they were for those who were used to saving so they could travel. Many of these travellers didn’t have the money to charter a private plane, but they still preferred it overriding a commercial airline and risking their health and safety.

Even with most pandemic restrictions already lifted, there are now significantly more private jet travellers. As of January 2022, there is a 40% increase in take-offs and landings in 2021 compared to 2019.

It is safe to say that flights to nowhere will be around for a while, though not all airline companies will adopt the concept.

7. New technologies

Even if millions of people have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, and even if face mask use is no longer strictly implemented, authorities will continue to explore new technologies that ensure the safety of travellers and airlines.

Airline companies will continue to offer contactless check-ins and various virtual services. Travellers will continue to look for safer alternatives for services and amenities they’ve been availing of even before the pandemic. More and more people now prefer to book their flights online. Financially-stable families would rather travel on private charter jets than on commercial airlines.

Long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, new technologies that ensure everyone’s safety will continue to emerge.

Regardless of where you are flying from, where you are going, or what airline you are flying with, expect changes to welcome you. After all, the travel industry is always changing and evolving, especially at a challenging time like the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Author:

Melissa Hull is the Content Marketing Strategist for Aviation Charters, a West Trenton, New Jersey-based private aviation company that provides on-demand aircraft charter, aircraft management, and aircraft acquisition services. Aside from her passion for writing, she loves to travel and read espionage books.

6 Unique Road Trips in Canada

Unique road trips in Canada

Exploring one of the most beautiful countries in the world needs to be something special. Don’t settle for ordinary sightseeing tours. Go on a road trip and tailor your travel according to your preferences. You can make it one of a kind experience where you’ll get a whole new level of enjoyment. Hop in your car and see some of the most beautiful natural sights – and we’ll show you where to go. Exploring this huge country can make you feel puzzled, not knowing what direction you should choose. Well, we’re here to help you. Here are the six unique road trips in Canada – get some gas, pack some snacks and let’s go on a road trip!

Reasons to go on a road trip

Road trips are quite a unique way to explore a certain part of the country. Even though they require a bit of organization and planning, they guarantee many travel benefits. The reasons you’ll enjoy going on a road trip are many:

  • It’s a great way to relax – Driving through the countryside is a way to get some time to think about certain things and relax while enjoying a beautiful view
  • Explore more than just a beaten path– Road trips give you the freedom to make stops and visit places that are not in common sightseeing routes
  • Get closer to your travel companion – Whether you’re traveling with your partner, family, or friends, road trips are a great way to get closer to each other. You’ll share stories, explore new things together, and bond. Also, traveling by yourself is fantastic for getting to know yourself. It gives you time to rethink certain choices and make plans for the future
  • Explore potential places to move to – Road trips are the chance to visit specific locations and see what it’s like to live there. It’s perfect for those looking for a place to move – explore potential homes while traveling. Professional Movers Canada suggests people always visit their future homes and try to find out more about life there. These visits will give you more insight into the life in that area so you can be sure you’ll enjoy it.
A man looking at the sky on a road trip in Canada
Let yourself have the best adventure – explore unique road trips in Canada and plan your next trip.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta

This adventure spreads across 235km (146miles) of the most amazing scenery. Waterfalls, Glaciers, turquoise lakes, and breathtaking valleys – all of these will blow your mind if you opt for Icefields Parkway. This wild route will surely lead you to many amazing spots where you stop to take a picture or simply grasp the beauty of our planet. Some of the stops to include in your itinerary are surely Lake Louise, Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake, and more. However, be smart with the gas situation – there are not so many gas stations along the route. However, there are increased once-in-a-lifetime chances to see common wildlife creatures in the area.

Interlake Region, Manitoba

This is a longer route that you can enjoy for about two or three days. Interlake region is one of the unique road trips in Canada as you can see history and nature connect. This is the place where you can hear stories about Vikings, as many communities here proudly tell about their roots. The region gets its name due to its location. You can find it between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. The area offers spectacular views, but it’s also a favorite place for families to enjoy the beach, birding, and boating. Spots you shouldn’t miss are certainly the wooden piers of Winnipeg Lake, Narcisse Snake Dens, Gimli and Hecla, etc.

Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

If you want to see the world’s highest tides and rare whales, head to the Bay of Fundy. Start with visiting Moncton, then continue to the Hopewell Rocks. These massive formations are surely a sight to see and even walk among. Next, make sure you visit Saint John – a charming old town that is a must-see stop when visiting Canada. This can be your last stop before you reach the final destination – St. Andrews fishing village, located right next to the border of Maine.

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

If you have a couple of days to spend on a road trip, Nova Scotia can be a perfect destination. Even though this trail can be driven in only one day, it’s best to give yourself time to enjoy all the great things on this route. This coastal drive can begin at Margaree Harbour and finish all the way in Baddeck. This route will lead you through Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay, Cape North, and Ingonish Beach. This road trip is on many travelers’ wish lists, and you should find out why!

Vehicles on the road in Canada
Choose a vehicle and begin the road trip of your life.

Wild Yukon Trail

This wild, mountainous, and sparsely populated region is a place to go on a road trip if you’re a true nature lover. Dempster Highway is one of the most unique roads here that can take you on a one-of-a-kind adventure. It’s isolated, it’s wild – it’s beautiful. The highway is about 700 kilometers long, so it will take a bit to prepare. Your vehicle needs to be suitable for this dirt road, and you need to organize the long drives. Warmer months bring more safety to the road, whereas autumn’s foliage makes the scenery even more spectacular.

Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia

If you’re in the Vancouver area and want a shorter route, then the Sea to Sky highway should be your next choice. This is a much shorter road trip than the previous item on this list, but it’s surely one of Canada’s best and most unique road trips. On this 129km drive, you can start with Vancouver and then make stops at Shannon Falls, Capilano Suspension bridge, Whistler, Brandywine Falls, Train Wreck Trail, etc. This can even be a multi-day trip; just be sure to organize your stops and find accommodation in advance.

An aerial view of a road in Canada
British Columbia is the home to spectacular views like this.

Start one of the most unique road trips in Canada

Now, it’s time to choose among these unique road trips in Canada. What will be your next destination? A road trip can be an extraordinary experience – just choose a companion and hit the road.