Everyone looks forward to holidays even if there are many details that need to be taken into consideration: choosing the destination, accommodation, expenses, visas, arrangements for the care of your cat, dog, etc. Many of these problems can be avoided, though, if you follow the example of the Hollywood film “The Holiday” and choose to arrange a home exchange or a home swap with someone abroad.
Where did it all start? Although early adaptors started bartering in this way in the 1950s, exchanging houses grew in popularity with the invention of the World Wide Web and the spread of the Internet around the globe.
What are the steps to be taken? Basically you sign up on a website like Home Base Holidays, describing your home, location and areas you would like to visit. The system is as follows: usually two homeowners exchange their houses or apartments for an agreed period, which is usually short, in order to benefit from a cheap vacation. Typically, exchanges are made between different countries, but exchanging within the same country is popular too, often between very different locations (a house owner who lives near the sea might for example want an exchange to the mountains or in a city).
There is a growing trend for businesses catering for this segment of the travel market: websites that host these types of exchanges have been developed specifically for people who want to arrange home swaps. Members pay an annual fee that shows their commitment to arranging exchanges but the fee is very small when compared to the benefits of a holiday abroad with no accommodation costs.
When you take part in a home swap, you eliminate the major expenses of hotels and often car rental too if cars are swapped as part of the agreement. As you will have a kitchen, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant three times a day. Because of the savings, many families can afford to visit places that until now they had only dreamt about. The money saved can be used for other amusements, such as visiting new places or shopping for gifts for yourself, friends and family.
When you get back “home” after a long day of site seeing or shopping, you will be able to relax in the comfort and space of a real house or apartment. The whole family will enjoy having their own space and not being crammed into a hotel room together. If you exchange houses, you are not restricted to taking your holidays at a particular time of year. You can choose to exchange houses for longer holidays or for shorter periods, even weekends closer to home. You will not have to bother with hotel reservations or gratuities and, once you close the deal with the owners in the location you want to go to, you will share local information so that you will know what to expect before you arrive.
There are many advantages to choosing to home swap. As well as the cost savings and comfort, you have the opportunity to live like the locals do, really getting to know a new area.
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