Maybe you’ve seen the rom-com ‘The Holiday’? In this film two women with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love. Now I can’t guarantee that you will meet someone and fall in love, but you can save money on a holiday if you swap homes with somebody.
All you need to do is register your home on a website. Some websites offer this service for free, while others charge a fee. It will make life easier for you if you swap with someone with a similar family situation. You might not want two or three kids running around your bachelor pad, for example.
An article in the Daily Telegraph predicted that 1.6 million people would be swapping homes to save on the cost of a holiday.
There is also the option of a more basic type of Home Exchange. This is where you put up the other member as a house guest. There are two types; Hospitality Exchange, where you take it in turns to be a host and a house guest, or ‘Couch-Surfing’, where there is no requirement for you to return the favour. Couch Surfing is just a term, you may be staying in a spare bedroom!
Yet another alternative is House Sitting. Here you can look after someone’s home while they are away, hopefully preventing a burglary or just looking after pets. In some case you can even get paid a nominal amount! However you will be responsible for any utility bills.
Make use of any review systems that a website may offer before making contact. Choose a host who is a long term member with positive feedback. Do check your home insurance to be on the safe side.
Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list and book unique accommodations around the world. It could be for an apartment for a night or a villa for a month. They reckon to offer more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries.
You can bypass the typical hotel experience by staying at the home of a local and learning about their culture.
Currently this website offers free membership. It does offer a cover scheme (for a fee).
This is an online community to offer you free accommodation all over the world. Thereby saving you money and getting you to see the world from a local’s perspective.
HomeLink was established in 1953 and has helped like-minded families exchange homes all around the world. They are the largest UK-based home exchange holiday organisation. There is an annual membership fee.
Home Exchange offers you the chance to swap your home, or your hospitality with members from over 100 countries. This is where you host the stranger in your home and then they return the favour. There is a monthly fee.
House Carers is a world-wide house sitting directory based in Newcastle, Australia. They have been matching Homeowners with House Sitters for over 10 years.
The Hospitality Club
The aim of the Hospitality Club is to bring people together – hosts and guests, travellers and locals. Members help each other when they are traveling – be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. It is free to join. There are forums where members can swap tips and news.
International Home Exchange Network
Here you pay a fee to list your home, but you do not have any extra fees to pay when you exchange.
Intervac was started in the early 1950’s by a group of teachers based in Europe. Currently Intervac offers its services around the world and facilitates home exchanges for 30,000 families in over 50 countries. There is a membership fee, but they also offer a free 14 day trial.
MindMyHouse provide an online matching service to bring home owners and house sitters together for the free exchange of goods (accommodation) for services (house and pet sitting). There is a membership fee.
Seniors Home Exchange
This website offers you the chance to swap hospitality or home exchanges if you are a senior citizen. There is a membership fee and it is an American website.
Singles Home Exchange
This service can be used by anyone including students, seniors, families, couples or singles, who are looking for decent accommodations away from home.
Stay 4 Free
This has various levels of membership, starting from free.
Tripping is a global community of travellers who believe in making the world a better place through cultural exchange. It covers over 175 countries.
Unusual Hotels of the World
If you want to stay underground, inside an igloo, up a tree or even underwater, this website gives you the chance to book rooms at unusual and unique properties.