Skip to Content

Swap Houses and Get a Cheap Vacation

Posted In:  travel

Have you ever wanted to spend a romantic week in Paris or Venice, go skiing in Aspen or visit the mighty China? Everyone without exception fantasizes of visiting foreign places and going on vacation of their dreams. The major hindrance is typically the limited budget. Decent accommodations are expensive and combined with the cost of travel, meals and entertainment, usually prevent many families from vacationing as often as they would like. Now there is a method of affordable travel without losing your shirt in the process. The growing community of house swappers makes it possible to see the world within your financial means.

Types of Vacation Trading

  • Home Exchange – Homeowners trade their apartments, condominiums or houses with each other. Both parties have to agree on the same period of time. Often the homes are exchanged for the use of the boat or RV. Many homeowners include the use of their car as part of the package. You are not likely to meet the owners of the house in person and you have to feel comfortable with strangers staying in your house. The biggest advantage of this type of exchange is that your home is looked after while you are away.
  • Hospitality Exchange – Arrangements are made for you to stay at your host’s home at a time convenient for both parties. When they need accommodations in your area, they stay with you as your guests. Many individuals prefer this type of arrangement as it alleviates the anxiety aspect of not being able to meet the people who are temporarily occupying your dwelling. The opposite is actually true. You are able to meet your exchange partners and stay at home at the same time. You may also want to offer your help with sightseeing, lending your car or entertainment. Many hospitably exchanges lead to lifelong friendships and offer the flexibility of free accommodations, therefore allowing you to stretch your budget for longer stays.

How to Start the Process of Home Exchange

Although the idea of home swapping may seem unorthodox at first, the opportunities are limitless and many individuals feel very comfortable with it. Once you decide you would like to start the process, you should visit a reliable home exchange website. It will be vital to keep your dates flexible and keep an open mind. You will also have to exercise some patience, as home swapping requires advanced planning.

When you decide on a location, type of accommodations and time to take your vacation, you should start with contacting the potential exchange colleague by expressing your interest in their home. Simple, but friendly e-mail is typically all that is required. If you receive a favorable response, you may want to follow up with a phone call introducing yourself and providing more details about your trip.

It's important you act quickly, as other potential exchangers may be interested in the same listing. This will also be a good time to provide more information about your home, its inhabitants and local attractions. You should specify if you accept pets, smoking and if you require any additional responsibilities to be included such as watering the plants. This simple method will start building the trust with your prospective swapper and lead to a successful exchange. The process should be completed by a written agreement signed by both parties with all details specified, including insurance coverage, unexpected repairs, mail collection and the use of home appliances. Any language barriers should also be addressed at this point.

How to Prepare Your Home for the Exchange

Welcome your home swappers the same way you would like to be welcomed. Below you will find a list of helpful tips.

  • Create an owner’s manual where you will specify the use of electronics, appliances, alarms, heating and cooling units.
  • Leave a list of emergency numbers.
  • Make space in your closets and drawers.
  • Provide clean linens and towels.
  • Stock your pantry with paper towels, toilet tissues, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo and cleaning supplies.
  • Leave your home clean and inviting.
  • Leave your phone number in case your temporary tenants will have to get in touch with you.
  • If you include your car in the agreement, be sure to provide the keys to your vehicle, the insurance information and registration.

Home swapping is based on goodwill and trust. Remember, what you expect from the prospective tenants, will be expected of you as well. However, this very affordable way of traveling may take you to places you always wanted to visit, but never could afford. You will also find yourself being able to voyage more often, because your budget will not be as restricted. Bring your sense of adventure, positive attitude and book your trip today.

Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email Thanks!


Related Tips

Graduation Season: Gifts that Won't Drain Your Wallet Spring is here. It's the season of flowers, sun, longer days, and graduations...
Re-evaluate: Have You Turned into a Cheapskate? Learning to live within your means is an important part of being financially responsible, but it can be taken too far...
How to Pick a Good Mattress Based on the Facts Note from the editor: I recently had to buy a mattress for my son's twin bed...
luxury for less
Cheap Luxury: Make Life Feel More Luxurious on a Tiny Budget Some little luxuries can make ordinary life feel a lot less… well, ordinary...