I get a lot of questions about home exchange travel. Somehow, I feel proud when my friends think I’m retired when I work full time. I get to travel, live like a local, meet awesome people, and enjoy the comforts of home with very little expense. It’s called home exchanging.
In 2009, my mom, Bit, and I met a couple from Seattle on one of our travels. They mentioned “while we are here in Alaska, a couple from France is staying in our home in Seattle.” The idea took root and my journey began. Our first exchange was informal. We agreed with the Seattle couple to do the “same two weeks next year” off we went to Seattle.
We’ve since completed more than 23 exchanges: simultaneous, non-simultaneous, reciprocal, and non-reciprocal. We have traveled to and hosted visitors from Maine, Montana, Connecticut, the Netherlands, Italy, NYC, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Paris, and Denmark. During the corona virus pandemic, we explored close to home Florida destinations with five in-state exchanges (highly recommend: pack your food, your suitcase, and travel safely in your own bubble.)
I actively participate in two home exchange communities: People Like Us and Home Exchange. I dabbled in another community Love Home Swap but it didn’t stick.
People Like Us
The People Like Us (PLU) exchange platform launched in 2018. One of our fellow exchangers on the other platform looped us in since they knew we would love it here. We agree. People Like Us is world’s friendliest community of home swappers.
Started in the early 1990s, HomeExchange.com was the first organized home swap service online. You may have seen the home exchange between Kate Winslet (UK snowy cottage) and Cameron Diaz (swanky LA pool home) featured in the 2006 romcom “The Holiday.” Using HomeExchange.com, we can receive guest points when our home would otherwise be vacant. We especially like the option to spend guest points to book a home when the owner doesn’t want to travel to Florida.
You might need to create an account to view the Home Exchange listings.
There are active Facebook groups and blogs for both of these exchange platforms.
I enjoyed reading this Lonely Planet guide to house swapping
. One day I plan to write about my own experiences and friendships.
We’ve consistently enjoyed positive experiences with our home exchanges. We learn about life in other places. We learn to drink coffee from the wall, operate appliances in other languages, learn to do laundry in vastly difference machines. Cooking in someone else’s home not only saves time and money, but it helps you learn to food shop in another country/town/village.
Several of our friends also joined. One family takes their 3 children and their adult friend… travel is easy when they exchange with other families and their exchange homes include all the toys, seasonal clothes, and kid-friendly bikes and gadgets.
Home exchange is not for everyone. My husband likes to stay home while I travel with my mom or friends. A good litmus test: are you comfortable with someone else’s head in your bed? If not, move along. Home exchanging might be a good fit if you believe in sharing, trust, generosity, respect, communication, equality, cooperation, honesty, hospitality, friendship, flexibility, and adventure.
Questions? Please ask.