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.” 

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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

Plan an unforgettable cross-country skiing experience

Whether you already love cross-country skiing or are just dipping a toe
into the popular winter sport, you’re in for a real treat if you have
not yet embarked on a hut-to-hut excursion. We might think of
cross-country skiing as a form of exercise, but in Scandinavia and
China, it’s one of the oldest means of travel. And today, there are all
kinds of hut systems that allow skiers to go on multi-day ski adventures
with the promise of a warm, cozy shelter each night.

In the United States, you can find several hut systems, like the Sun
Valley Linkup in Idaho, the Wallowa Alpine Huts in Oregon, the San Juan
Hut System in Colorado, and the Maine Hut and Trails System. Distances
between the huts range from three to 10 miles, and different systems are
better for different experience and fitness levels. Make sure to do
your research. Find more tips for booking the perfect hut-to-hut cross-country skiing adventure in this helpful infographic!

Cross Country skiing infographic

12 Smart Tips To Improve Your Traveling Experience

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Like most areas in life, you are not born a savvy traveler; smart travel comes with experience and with making a lot of travel mistakes! Some traveling mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You cannot plan for everything, however, keeping a few things in mind will make your travels more enjoyable and make you a better traveler.

Now that things are opening up once again, I want to start booking trips and visiting new places. These smart tips to improve your traveling experience will enable you to save money, sleep better, and be safe.

1. Do Your Research

When you are planning a holiday, you are going to want to find the best deal when it comes to flights and accommodation. The best way to do that is to investigate deals from different travel companies as well as independent travel sites.

When traveling, research can significantly impact your time for the better. Researching prior to setting off can give you deep insights into the area, telling you places to avoid and places that you must go.

When you have settled on a destination, here are some things that you should research:

  • What are the country’s visa requirements?
  • What’s the weather/climate going to be like?
  • Are there any public holidays going on?
  • What is the tipping etiquette?
  • What clothing is culturally appropriate?

As well as being completely relaxed before you even leave, being prepared to travel in advance will make your time in-country a more joyful experience as you will have reduced any potential risks. Here are 5 things you should research when you have chosen a destination:

  • Currency and exchange rates
  • Mode of transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Culture – what is acceptable and what is not

2. Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can give you extra protection if our holiday doesn’t go ahead as planned especially when it comes to the COVID pandemic. It is particularly important to take out travel insurance if you are traveling independently because you may find yourself stranded due to unforeseen traveling problems.

If you are planning to engage in holiday activities such as water sports, it is vital that you check that your insurance policy covers you for activities like diving for example.

3. Make A Packing List

Before your trip, you should make a list of everything you need to pack. Writing a packing list is a great way to stay organised whilst traveling. It is important to write a list so that you do not forget vital travel documents and essentials that you will need. Using a list when you are getting ready to pack can save you time as well as reduce stress.

4. Stay Near Or At The Airport The Night Before

If your funds allow staying overnight either at or near the airport, you’ll start your holiday a little earlier! Instead of rushing to the airport on the day of your flight, you can relax and have a slower start to your day. You will be able to eliminate the stress and worry of being stuck in traffic or missing your train.

5. Take A Credit Card For Emergencies

Disasters can happen. It is always a good idea to have a backup in case you lose your card or even worse, you are robbed. You do not want to be stuck somewhere without access to your funds. It is important that you check your bank when it comes to withdrawing money abroad to ensure that you do not incur any fees. Also, let your card company know that you are traveling and where you are going before you leave. This will enable them to track any fraudulent activity on your account.

6. Take The Correct Plug Adapters

Different countries have different plug sockets, so ensure that you have the right one – do your research! Better still, invest in a universal adapter (covers all sockets worldwide), so that you don’t need to worry. You don’t want your camera, phone, or electric toothbrush to run out of charge!

7. Make Extra Copies Of Your Passport And Important Documents

Don’t forget to email yourself a copy as well. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you as you may not want to carry the originals. Additionally, if your passport is stolen, having a copy will be helpful for your police report and any trips to the embassy that you may need to make.

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8. Don’t Forget An Extra Camera Battery

You never want to reach for your camera to take a photograph of a memorable moment and realize that your camera battery is dead. By bringing an extra battery, you can always ensure that you have one on charge and you can alternate. That way, you’ll always be ready to capture those favorite moments!

9. Roll Your Clothes!

The best way to prevent creases and make the most of your space is to roll your clothes. Lay tops face down, fold in the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up. For trousers, put the legs together and roll from the waist down. Place your shoes and heavier items in first and place your clothes around them. Alternatively, once you’ve rolled your clothes, put them in packing cubes – another space saver.

10. When You Go Out, Take Only What You Need

You should limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if something does go wrong, you can easily recover.

11. Drink Responsibly

This has to be one of the most important safety tips for travelers. There is nothing wrong with exploring the local nightlife. However, keep in mind that it’s even more important to drink responsibly when abroad. When you are away from home, you are more likely to get lost or end up in a dangerous neighborhood. Keep an eye on your drink at all times and don’t accept any from strangers.

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12. Make Sure That You Know The Phone Number For The Emergency Services

Be sure to look up the emergency services number for your destination, even before you get there. It is also a good idea to look up the number for your home country’s nearest embassy before you leave. Save them in your phone, so you will have easy access to them in the event of an emergency.

What Are Your Travel Tips?

These are my top 12 travel tips to help you have a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free holiday. What is one travel tip you would give? I’d love to hear in the comments.

This post was written by Lauren, Bournemouth Girl. She is a creative and personal development blogger from Bournemouth, England. Lauren is a lover of travel among other things.