“I made a home exchange from Oxford to Spain and saved over € 4,000”

Over the past decade, Airbnb has usurped mainstream hotels and rentals as the vacation accommodation of choice. But now they have serious competition.

Home swapping involves exchanging your house or apartment with someone else in your own country or abroad. This means that both homeowners can stay somewhere else safe in the knowledge that their own home is taken care of – and the only costs are the membership fee.

This type of vacation also appears to be on the rise. UK based Love house swap saw a 282% increase last year compared to 2019, followed by a further 73% increase between May and June 2020 as well. Perhaps they took advantage of the fact that travelers prefer private accommodation over hotels for fear of contracting COVID. Or maybe it’s the feeling of being in a “second home”.

We spoke to a family who had two vacations at Love Home Swap homes.

Why did you start to swap your accommodation?

We are a family of eight (six children ages 1-11) and vacation rentals are getting very expensive for us.

Home swapping allows us to travel further as we only have to pay for the trip and then accommodation is free. The sense of adventure also seduced us.

Why is home exchange appealing to you?

Home swapping means we can stay in beautiful, often centrally located accommodation that we could never normally afford.

We love that houses are houses so you immediately feel right at home especially kids staying in other children’s rooms full of toys and books which is very exciting (this which you don’t normally find in self-catering accommodation).

You’re also open to things you wouldn’t normally do, places you wouldn’t normally choose to go, times of the year you wouldn’t normally leave.

Where have you been on your home exchange vacation and how many have you done?

So far we have been to London for a long weekend and two weeks in San Sebastian.

Our swap from last year was canceled due to COVID. This year, we are exchanging with a family in Cambridge in October. We are paying for our summer vacation in Sussex in August as we were unable to find an exchange when we were looking in January but we have a family that comes to stay in our house while we are away.

They will pay us in Love Home Swap points which we may eventually pay on an “indirect swap” in the future.

What are the benefits of home swapping and what do you find difficult about it?

So many advantages! Beautiful homes to stay for free, store cupboards full of food and ingredients you wouldn’t normally have on a rental vacation. We normally tell our customers to use what they can find but replace whatever you use. There is also a thrill that comes from being contacted out of the blue by people asking to stay in your home.

We have received offers to go to Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The difficulties would likely be cleaning and tidying up your home before you leave, in addition to all the packing that you normally have to do.

I recommend bringing in a cleaner to clean the floors and bathrooms after you leave, to avoid stress.

Other difficulties can be finding a swap – you have to send a lot of requests before you find someone willing to trade with you (this is where the Love Home Swap points system can come in handy), so organizing something as far in advance as possible is advisable.

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