Travel the world, live like a local and save thousands of pounds!


42 people found this feature helpful

Do you love travelling in the UK or abroad?
Do you have a sense of adventure yet like the comforts of home?
Do you enjoy saving money where possible?

If you answered 'yes' to any or the entire list above, home exchanging is for you. Amongst senior travelers it one of the fastest growing segments of travel. It is a fabulous way to become immersed in other cultures and explore new corners of the world while avoiding expensive accommodation and restaurant bills - turning what could seem to be an unaffordable dream into wonderful holiday.

Home exchange, what is it? 
Why don't you stay at my home while I stay at yours? This is the most straightforward description of home exchange. You might be saying to yourself, "Really? How am I going to find someone at one of those interesting destinations who wants to come visit my home?"

Popular theory is that home exchanging started amongst teacher in Europe during the 50’s. With their long summer holidays, there is an opportunity for two parties to explore somewhere new without the high cost of accommodation. Due to these pioneers, today, we can still enjoy home exchanging for adventure and a lot more, but we have a much easier way of finding others to exchange with - the internet. People from all walks of life are benefiting from home exchange, many are just like you. Before looking at how to choose an exchange that is right for you, let's take a look at differing types of exchanges.

The three most popular types of exchange are Direct, Non-Simultaneous, and Hospitality exchanges. Let's explore each of them as you might find one or more perfect for you. Depending on where you are in the world, you might call an exchange a swap or a trade. We will use these terms interchangeably as they essentially mean the same thing.

Western Cape, South Africa - IVHEDirect Exchange - the one most people know, this is when two parties agree to swap locations for the same period of time. 

  • Advantage: Straightforward, with no accommodation costs, this saves the most money.
  • Disadvantage: Two parties have to like each other's properties and locations as well as agree the exact same time for traveling and swapping.

Non-Simultaneous Exchange - when the two parties schedule their vacations at different times. This is most popular when using second or vacation homes, though it is possible to use the primary home if the owners are away.

  • Advantages: When using a property that is not the main residence, there is a lot more flexibility on when the exchanges can occur. When using an exchange network with many second homes, a credit system can be established to account for differing values of properties and time of visits.
  • Disadvantage: Anxiety of not trading at the same time. Overcome by using an established network with an equitable credit system for homes of variable values.

Hospitality Exchange - when one party hosts another in their home while they are there too. The gesture is then reciprocated at a later time.

  • Advantage: Not only do you get to visit a location, but you might also get a personal guide while making new friends.
  • Disadvantage: Not everyone wants to spend vacation time with another family that they have never met. Though when the return trip is made, the parties should know each other pretty well.

New York, USA - IVHELet's review our opening questions
Do you love to travel? There are opportunities around the world, from major cities like New York, Paris, London and Sydney to less frequented destinations such as Alberta, Alabama, Goa, Iceland, Isle of Arran, and Patagonia. As you will come to discover, there is a good chance that no matter where you might want to visit, there is an opportunity for you to enjoy home exchange.

Do you have a sense of adventure yet like the comforts of home? Adventure can be in the activities you do or the location you visit. As you can imagine, a location in a major city is most likely going to be an apartment or maybe a home. When traveling around the globe, you might also have the opportunity to stay on a ranch, in a ski chalet, beach house, game lodge, or even a country estate.

The world of options certainly grows as you search for your next location. No matter what location or type of accommodation you choose, with home exchange, you also get the added benefit of staying where other people live or vacation. This is having the creature comforts of home. Especially when traveling to a new location, it is so nice to relax in a bit more space instead of coming back to a cramped and possibly expensive hotel room.

Does saving money appeal to you? Imagine being able to enjoy fantastic destinations around the globe while having the conveniences of staying in a home and spending only a small fraction of ordinary accommodation costs. With home exchange you not only avoid most of the accommodation costs, you have the space and amenities so you can choose to cook and eat what and when you want, saving money on restaurant bills. You will not need to eat out; of course you are on vacation, so we would recommend getting out a few times to enjoy! But the most important thing is that you have a choice.

Home exchanging is a great way to save lots of money while stepping into someone else's world to experience different cultures and environments.

Are all home exchanges the same?
Haute Savoie, France - IVHEAs you can see above, one or more might be perfect for you. There are many benefits of home swapping. The following are most frequently quoted:

  • Great opportunity to immerse yourself in a destination culture, to live like a local
  • Limited or no accommodation costs for your holiday
  • Homes including a kitchen will give you the option to save on restaurant costs
  • Security: your property will be occupied instead of being vacant
  • Make new friends: inevitably you will get to know your hosts and guests
  • Potential of borrowing a bike, car, boat, and sporting equipment thus avoiding rental costs.

From our experience, the most important of all is HAVING FUN. Enjoy! 

You may also find interesting:

42 people found this feature helpful

Did you find this feature helpful? YES
Enjoy reading other articles and reviews on this subject.
Read more

What are your thoughts?

Discuss this article on our Forum

Create a new thread To leave a comment, please Sign in

Other Members' Thoughts - 33 Comment(s)

  • pzmaid
    over 3 years ago
    Great idea which we've thought about. But earlier this year we signed up with a pet/house sitting group - which is excellent. To date we've done two house/pet sits in the UK - places we've never really been before and its been great. It costs £80 per year and that's it. Everything happens on line and you can pick a sit or you may be approached to do a sit (You need to put your profile on the site). The name of the company is Trusted House Sitters and I can recommend it. You can pick sits from Cornwall to Sydney, long or short, small holdings with lots of animals to one independent cat. It's up to you.
  • sdcakt
    almost 5 years ago
    what a wonderful idea, you get to see the real place not just the lollypop area
  • Kevin-4
    almost 5 years ago
    What a good idea!
  • T-J
    almost 5 years ago
    I always stay in villas abroad which is great for living like a local and used AIRBNB for the 1st time this year to hire a condo right on Santa Monica beach - much cheaper than a hotel and much better accommodation because we had the freedom of a whole apartment and we were right on the boardwalk! I always read reviews thoroughly and only book accommodation with lots of pictures and we've never had a problem in 10 years.
  • Kenbob
    almost 5 years ago
    I think this has got to be the one for me. I love mixing with the local while I am on holiday. I think it is wonderful and can learn a lot about the place and the country.
  • steve65e
    about 5 years ago
    I love to get close to the local culture when abroad, and prefer to self cater so I can use the shops and markets (and save money!). But I'm not sure about home exchange, I don't like the idea of being surrounded by other peoples personal things, and vice versa.
  • Adventurer
    about 5 years ago
    I love mixing with the local and learn about the local ways of lives. I will ive it a try.
  • HazyJ
    about 5 years ago
    Home exchanges sound fab...mean that you get to live and understand the local community rather than driving through. Would allow you to eat locally and shop locally and also just chill and relax without the bustle of a hotel.
  • Jacks10
    about 5 years ago
    I think home exchanges are a great idea. I have never exchanged as yet but have thought long and hard about it. Problem is I would probably have to spend a month cleaning and sorting my house out so that I could feel at ease letting other people use it!!! I am sure it has it's problems but it is an appealing idea and one I will be looking into carefully! Anyway to reduce holiday costs is always welcome!

  • Susan-Lowe
    about 5 years ago
    We don't fancy home exchange , but we DO like to think we sample local life . We go to Greece for 6 weeks regularly , ALWAYS find places to rent with decent cooking facilities , cook the local specialities, drink what the locals drink and recommend , try stuff like pipe fish [ a bit weird ] in backstreet tavernas, etc . We also seek out non-touristy islands / villages , and join in local festivals and festivities. The Greeks are so lovely , you are made especially welcome at big church celebrations and get dragged into local weddings .
  • MHC
    about 5 years ago
    I do wonder about the disparity in standards between house exchangers and how it would impact on my home. I hate outdoor shoes worn indoors for instance - but some might see that as over fussy. I imagine pet owners might have different standards - dogs/ cats on bed - or none allowed in bedrooms.
    I'd hate to leave a list to swappers that might appears unwelcoming - and would probably not like to receive one.
    There must be a happy balance I am sure, but as I cannot see one immediately maybe I am not house swap material.
  • Janet-Smith
    about 5 years ago
    Looks like a great way to see how the locals really live.
  • Vixen
    about 5 years ago
    I have often thought of this but my husband isn't keen on strangers in our home. It would be nice if we could meet the visitors beforehand but I suppose that would cause huge logistical problems, so it looks as if this isn't going to be a possibility for us.

  • lionpops
    about 5 years ago
    I have often thought about this but worry about the impact on my home. Would guests treat my home with respect. What about my car which I treasure.What if things go wrong who sorts it out?

  • Perpetual-traveller
    about 5 years ago
    Sounds wonderful. We have 2 homes - one in the UK and one in South Africa, so might be something for us to consider. Thought about it before, but it's one of those things we 'never got around to'. Maybe now's the time!
  • Rambler
    about 5 years ago
    Great explanation of the variety of home exchange - I did not realise that there was more than one type! And it is also encouraging to know that there are lots of potential destinations for UK residents (not just the USA). Having stayed in some great so-called 'bach' accommodation in New Zealand, which were complete houses or apartments, I can certainly appreciate the idea of home comforts while on holiday. In 'Direct Exchange' have people got to know neighbours or friends? And do you need special insurance when you open up your house to strangers? Does anyone have a bad exchange experience?
    about 5 years ago
    Hello Rowsie, London is a very popular spot for travelers, especially if there are great transport links. Your home sounds lovely, giving it a try, you might really enjoy the results.

    Hello Keljimstock, Yes, many people are very happy to have cats to fed. Just communicate with your guests in advance. Wishing you a very enjoyable retirement.
  • Rowsie
    about 5 years ago
    I have thought about doing this a few times but think the problem is that I am not very confident that anyone would want my house! I am situated in South London with great access by bus, trains and DLR to central London but it isn't a very "trendy" area. My house is a 3 bedroomed terrace but it is very old and the kitchen has never been updated much (and to be honest I use it very rarely). When I look on websites all the houses being offered seem to be very modern, or very rustic and I would be mortified if people travelled all the way here and were disappointed. Maybe there should be a website for 'Homes that have that "lived in" feel'?
  • Susan-Lowe
    about 5 years ago
    Lin..... never underestimate your own home's advantages ! When thinking of my own I realise I have a secluded garden , an attic to sleep or play "houses" in , proximity to Pennine walks, villages and canals.
    And Holmfirth is a few miles away. Bet you could make a similar list !
  • Susan-Lowe
    about 5 years ago
    In answer to keljimstock there are thousands of cat lovers who would be only too pleased to have a feline welcome to their home swap !! And , maybe, they would have their own cats for you to reciprocate !!
  • keljimstock
    about 5 years ago
    We are both newly retired and, being now on a limited income, this idea sounds quite appealing.However, we have two cats who do not like catteries. Could we ask our visitors to fettle them? Has anyone else had experience of this?
  • Lin
    about 5 years ago
    I've often thought of this but was put off because I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to stay in my house! However I've been thinking: it's within five miles of a very exciting city (Manchester). There must be some people who'd be interested in that...
  • SilverTravelUser_3088
    about 5 years ago
    Have often thought of maybe trying this. Your article was very informative and has reawakened my interest and this year I will definitely get round to it now that I am semi retired and have more time on my hands.
  • Marpau
    about 5 years ago
    I think this is a great way to see new places without being shunted to the usual tourist spots. You can really enjoy local venues especially if your homeowner leaves a list of tips
  • Traveller10
    about 5 years ago
    Great way to reduce costs while enjoying all the mod cons and living like a local. Brilliant!