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.

 

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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.

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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

Why You Should Visit Scandinavia in Summer

The view of colorful buildings next to the river where there are several boats.

Scandinavia consists of three countries: Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. As these countries are located in the north, it is natural that the colder months can be pretty harsh. But in the summer and early fall, the weather is enjoyable, allowing you to create fantastic memories. Here are some reasons to visit Scandinavia in summer, as well as our suggestions for the places you shouldn’t miss there.

Midsummer Eve celebrations

On June 23rd, people around Scandinavia celebrate Midsummer Eve. This is the longest day of the year, and the presence of daylight is very important in the northern regions. The reason is that a human being experiences various discomforts when there is a continuous lack of sunlight. Therefore, the summer solstice is highly appreciated and celebrated. In all parts of Scandinavia, people light bonfires and organize various parties on this day.

In Darlana, Sweden, you will experience a traditional Midsummer celebration like nowhere else

For the most traditional celebration of Midsummer, you should go to Darlana. In the past, women and girls put flowers in their hair and danced around a decorated pole. Because the custom lived on, you will get a chance to do the same during Darlana on June 23rd. On the big day, everything runs according to the schedule. The day before, women gather flowers they will use to decorate the maypole and their hair. In the morning, everyone meets for the decorating. And after that comes a traditional lunch that includes herrings, baked salmon, and moose, among other customary dishes. As for the drinks, there is beer and local spiced vodka. After lunch, the maypole is raised, and the dancing, fun, and games begin. This is immensely fun for everyone involved, as anyone present gets to be involved, making it one experience you will never forget.

Visit Scandinavia in summer to explore the fjords of Norway

The coast of Norway is one of the most remarkable works of art that nature has blessed us with. Approximately 1200 fjords along its west coast offer an excellent array of outdoor activities. This area is among those you should visit in Scandinavia in summer because the weather is optimal for everything this part of the world has to offer. The first reason to go there is to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the waterways, cliffs, villages, and towns. Something like that is extremely rare. If you are one of those travelers who prefer to be on the move, visiting the fjords is ideal for you. There, you can ride a bike, hike on one of the most amazing trails that ever existed, or simply spend some time kayaking in this surreal environment. 

An aerial view of one of the fjords.
The fjords of Norway are enchanting, and if you visit Scandinavia in summer, you will enjoy their full potential.

Roskilde Festival in Denmark is a perfect place for music events enthusiasts

In 1971, two high school students and a friend came up with an idea to organize a music festival. The idea was great, but it required lots of labor, so the non-profit Roskilde Foundation took over and is running it to this day. Apart from being one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, it is also one of the biggest fundraising events. With most of the work done by volunteers, all the profits go to charity organizations. The foundation allows the festival participants to decide which organization should receive the funds raised by the festival. So, this festival has immense entertainment value and supports humanitarian organizations, making it extremely special among its kind. No Festivalgoer should miss it. 

Visit the capitals of Scandinavian countries without wearing heavy winter clothes

There is no doubt that these (as any other) cities are just as enchanting when draped in snow. But the truth is, you will be able to stay outside longer in warmer weather and be more comfortable without having to wear multi-layered winter clothes. Here’s what to do in each of the three unique capital cities when you visit Scandinavia in summer:

Oslo. In Oslo, you will adore the boat trip around the Oslofjord. Or, if you prefer to break some sweat, you can kayak your way around the fjord. There’s a walking tour, AKA the hipster walking tour you will love. Alternatively, you can be part of the barefoot tradition taking place in the parks.

Copenhagen. Take pictures! This city has a great way of making everyone’s photographs look surreal. Of course, there is plenty to do in this city, ranging from bike riding, a tradition here, to enjoying swimming in the perfectly clean old industrial harbor.

Stockholm. This city offers an impressive archipelago for you to explore. Also, there’s a fantastic open-air museum of Sweden’s history. And when there, do not miss the chance to witness the Change of Royal Guards, an exciting traditional event.

There are so many things to do in these cities and never to get bored. If you are feeling adventurous, hop on the first plane there. If you prefer to leave your items safe and are wondering whether you will be able to pack for storage on short notice, fret not, it is doable, and it will be worth it.

A picture of a woman’s profile while standing on the bridge with lots of padlocks.
After visiting Copenhagen, you will have some amazing photographs.

Let the beaches of Norway mesmerize you in the summer

Some of us love enjoying the paradise beaches but want to avoid the heat. Well, the beaches of Norway are the solution. Many beaches in this fantastic northern country will stun you with their beauty, yet sitting on them in summer is quite pleasant. The temperatures are spring-like; you might even need a sweater on some days in June or September. What is characteristic about these beaches is that one experiences them in a completely different way than is the case with regular, hot weather beaches.

For example, you can visit the beaches in Jæren and enjoy the soul-soothing walk that goes on and on since there are kilometers of it. Some secluded beaches in Northern Norway will make you wonder whether you have somehow ended up in the Maldives. Trøndelag is where you will find one of the finest beach bars if that is more of your cup of tea. Some of the beaches offer you cutting the waves on horseback. If you happen to be taking the soul-searching trip on your own, consider these unusual beaches because what you will find there might be exactly what you are looking for.

A view of the beach with white sand and turquoise water.
Visit Scandinavia in summer to see some truly unique white-sand beaches.

Final thoughts

As you can see, these northern countries are fantastic any time of the year. You should visit Scandinavia in summer to enjoy it to the fullest with the weather on your side. And early fall is also a good time to visit. Just don’t forget to bring enough storage space in your device for the photos because you will need it.

European Capitals You Must Visit at Least Once

Push pins on a world map.

There is a reason why most people place European capitals on their wish lists! Each and every capital city in Europe presents an intriguing combination of rich history, mesmerizing architecture, friendly people, tasty food, incredible nightlife, exquisite artwork, and many more. No matter which city you decide to visit, be sure that you will fall in love as soon as you arrive. You will fall in love not with another person but with small pathways, quirky stores, flowery balconies, and roads leading to the beach. Or, who knows – maybe you do fall in love with a local too! So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bag, buy that ticket and start exploring! But, if you don’t know where to go first, we got you! We prepared a list of European capitals you must visit at least once! Thus, keep on reading.

London, England

Without a doubt, one of the European capitals you must visit at least once is London – the capital of England! This capital is host to several million tourists every year. Some tourists see the fantastic London architecture, some learn about the United Kingdom’s rich history, and some just want to have fun in a city full of posh shops and restaurants.

The best way to experience all of the things mentioned above is to hop on a New Routemaster – a double-decker bus that will take you to all of London’s hotspots and allow you to take some Insta-worthy photos. For instance, it will take you to the Tower of London, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, and many more.

Moreover, when it comes to London, we have to give you some essential tips for essential travel – get yourself an umbrella as soon as you arrive. Rain is a common sight here, so if you don’t want to be disturbed by it, have a small umbrella by your side at all times.

A picture of Big Ben and London Bridge.
London will forever be one of the European capitals you must visit at least once.

Paris, France

Welcome to the City of Light. Or, let us say, welcome to the City of Love and one of the best European destinations for singles! Just like London, Paris is also one of the European Capitals you must visit at least once in your life! Or, if you are really lucky, visit it a couple of times as one trip is not enough to see everything this beautiful city has to offer.

Some of the sights you simply can’t miss out on while in Paris are Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Arc de Triumph, Place de la Concorde, etc. But, don’t just look at these sights – learn about them! Find a tour guide who will explain these sights’ role in history. Moreover, while here, don’t forget to sit in one of those famous Parisian cafes and order an espresso and a chocolate croissant. And, check out the street vendors and buy a beret too!

Also, don’t hesitate to visit Paris in winter! The city lights will leave you breathless! And, when you get tired of all the walking and exploring the city, why not go to some of the famous ski resorts in and around Paris, such as Montmartre or Les Trois Vallées. Trust us, there are many reasons for a ski trip to Europe, that is, to Paris and France, but we will leave it up to you to find out. 

A view of Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Going to Paris must be on your bucket list!

Rome, Italy 

Ahh, Italy! There is not a person in this world who wouldn’t like to visit this sunny county where everything smells like pasta and wine and where everybody wants to be your friend. But, to understand the true spirit of Italy, one must go to its capital – Rome. Rome is, above all, a city telling Roman Empire’s history. You can see that when through the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, etc. And you can see that when just walking through the streets of Rome.

We assure you – once you start exploring the city, you will get an instant wish to move here. And why wouldn’t you? Just hire movers and let them relocate you. If you want to avoid stress when packing, the key is starting early. But, we wouldn’t worry about stress here – Rome is just naturally peaceful. 

Moreover, movers are not the only ones who can help you relocate – Trevi Fountain also can. Namely, it is believed that if you toss one coin into this fountain, you are destined to return to the Eternal City (Rome). And, if you want to return and also find the love of your life here, you must toss two coins. So, be careful what you wish for!

Trevi Fountain in Rome.
One thing is for sure – you will want to come back to Rome!

Athens, Greece 

We simply cannot talk about the European capitals you must visit at least once without mentioning Athens – the capital of Greece. Athens is, without any doubt, the oldest capital of the world. Historical landmarks stretched throughout the city for as long as the eye can see. Acropolis, Parthenon, Plaka, Herod Atticus Odeon, Panathenaic Stadium, Agora, etc., are just some of the must-see places in Athens. 

Moreover, while here, don’t forget to go to one of the many museums and galleries. This is where you will be able to learn the most about Greek history and culture. And, when you get tired of all the sightseeing (which will doubt will happen), sit in some local greek restaurant and try some authentic food and drinks. The Greeks will welcome you with amazing hospitality and, if you are lucky enough, they may play some music or let you break some plates to celebrate your trip. 

There are many European capitals you must visit at least once. We mentioned just four of them, but you already know that there are many more with visiting. So, do your own research. Maybe you will find a capital that suits your preferences more. But don’t hesitate to visit the ones we mentioned either – they are on top of all traveler’s lists for a reason.