There is no doubt that traveling can be expensive … especially if you’re looking for a hotel in a popular destination. But what if you could get pet friendly accommodations for free? There’s a way to do it, and this guest post by Brian Luckhurst will explain how …
My wife was horrified when I first mentioned home exchanging, “I can’t have someone staying in my house … anyway who would want to?” or words to that effect. She wasn’t worried about the security or privacy, simply that our house wasn’t smart enough to let others stay in it. But she had to agree, it was an economical way to see the world.
Home exchanging or home swapping is when you agree to swap homes, and sometimes cars, with someone – you stay in their home and they stay in yours, without any money changing hands. It started in the 1950’s when some teachers decided to swap homes for the summer, however more and more of us, from all walks of life, are now doing it – not least to save money in these financially difficult times. And what better way to see the best locations without breaking the bank?
Home exchanging can take several forms. A traditional exchange is when you swap homes at the same time. A non-simultaneous exchange, which can offer more flexibility, is when one or both of you have the ability to stay somewhere else, often a second home, and the dates for the exchange do not have to coincide.
A hospitality exchange is the third type and this is when you take turns staying as guests in each other’s homes. This form of exchange appeals to those who are used to entertaining and I think works particularly well for anyone nervous about travelling alone in a different city or country. This can also work if you have a lodger or older offspring living with you and a traditional exchange may not be appropriate as you can’t provide an empty home.
It is normal and good practice when exchanging to leave a welcome pack with lots of interesting information about your house and the local area – where to shop and eat, local attractions, and any tips you can offer. Often with a hospitality exchange this local info is taken to another level and the homeowner acts as a sightseeing guide, taking you out for a meal, and perhaps even for a round of golf at their club.
What if you have a pet? Many home exchangers are happy to have you include your pet in your holiday plans. Alternatively, if arrangement are made in advance, sometimes pets can stay at home and be looked after by the visiting home exchangers who are vacationing in the property.
Home exchange has some obvious benefits – with no accommodation costs, the savings can be substantial. Other major savings can be achieved by swapping cars, not having to dine out every night, and by playing as a guest at your host’s sports/golf club. You have the freedom to do what you want, when you want – armed with the local knowledge of your exchange partner rather than just a guide book.
Brian Luckhurst is a Scot who now lives in London. He and his wife of 35 years, Catriona, have a son and daughter, both of whom have flown the nest. Brian who is now in his early 60s, is semi-retired and in October 2009 he and Catriona launched a home exchange travel website for folks over 50, which he sees as a step towards a full, yet busy, retirement.
Are your wheels spinning with the idea of home exchanging? If you’re hesitant to jump in, consider first swapping with a friend or family member. It may be the perfect situation for this summer’s vacation – for both of you!
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