For the frugal traveler who want to enjoy the local culture, a home exchange might be just what you're looking for.
Hotel rooms are expensive, especially when you consider how much time will be spent outside taking in the sights. For those of us more frugal, a home exchange might be more up your alley.
The basic idea of the home exchange is that you swap homes with someone else. Then you get to experience the English countryside while the person you swap with enjoys California wine country.
The best part about the swap is that it’s free, plus the cost of listing on a home exchange site, which usually runs $100 or more a year,
. So for the price of one night in a decent hotel, you can get lodging for a full vacation. Some of the perks include living like a local and being able to swap into … unique lodgings. For instance, you might swap into an RV or even a yacht.
As convenient as a home exchange vacation might be, there’s still the rather discomforting idea that someone is in your house while you are thousands (and possibly an ocean) away. Yet
claims that “in 19 years and tens of thousands of exchanges, we’ve never had a report of a theft, malicious vandalism, or a case of someone getting to their exchange home and finding a vacant lot.”
In fact, all the site recommends is that you hide valuable items and jewelry, but otherwise you can leave the house as is. One of the things that will keep your house guests behaving is the knowledge that you will be staying at their house at the same time.
However, this isn’t a quickly planned trip, according to Money Crashers. A home exchange may be cheaper, but it’s more time consuming. Before the vacation, there are a number of things you’ll have to set up — make sure your insurance covers any injuries or damage and leave instructions for appliances. But you’ll also be in fairly regular correspondence with the people you swap with before the vacation. Home Exchange likens it to online dating.
“Before you would actually go on a date with someone you met on the internet, you would exchange some emails, talk on the phone a few times, and swap recent photos. By the time you agreed to meet, it wouldn't be with a ‘stranger.’ You wouldn't go on a date if you didn't feel a connection, and the same goes for a home exchange.”