Travel has all but halted this year since concerns over the spread of COVID have persisted. The idea of staying in a hotel with multiple other guests traveling from several different places and sharing common areas just doesn’t seem entirely safe. And yet, our urge to travel and explore lingers. In fact, if anything, being confined to our homes has made us that much more eager for a change of scenery.
The Denver Post and The New York Times may have found a solution in their recent inquiries into home-swapping services. Basically, homeowners apply for their home to be a part of a pool that can be swapped for other homes in the pool based on coordinating locations and set periods of time. Rather than paying to rent the home, such is the case with companies like Airbnb, there is no exchange of funds, only an exchange of goods. Essentially, I’ll give you my house if you give me yours.
Companies like Love Home Swap, HomeLink International, Homestay, and Thirdhome are all popular home swapping online databases. Even before COVID, these companies and their innovative business concept were becoming increasingly more popular. Because the swap is typically free and members pay only a relatively small monthly or yearly membership fee (and occasionally a small cleaning fee), it offers a convenient vacation at a drastically discounted price. In addition, in recent months it has become a safer alternative to the average hotel. You are exposed to less people and less germs. If your destination is within reasonable driving distance, you can even eliminate the current risks of air travel by driving. It makes for an almost worry-free vacation!
Still skeptical about giving this alternative way of vacationing a try? We have compared two of the most popular services to help you understand how it all works. You and your family just might find a home away from home.
Love Home Swap
A community of like-minded homeowners swapping homes in order to take inspiring and affordable vacations.
Cost: Starts at $132 per year
The Homes: Thousands of homes in 100+ countries.
How it works: Begin searching for your ideal location and amenities. Put photos and alluring details about your home into their database. Securely coordinate a swap directly with another community member.
The Perks: Enjoy all of the amenities and space of your own home while on vacation in a new and exciting place.
What their customers say: “I think the biggest benefit is going to places I wouldn’t have considered going before.
A “luxury travel club” where members trade stays in their second and third vacation homes.
Cost: $650 on average per each weeklong stay
The Homes: 11,000 properties in 95 countries. The average home listed is $2.3 million but some are even more extravagant reaching a price of $6 million or more. The homes cannot be the owner’s primary residence and they must be in a highly desirable location. Appliances, finishes, and furnishings must be updated and high-end. Each home is vetted in person by a company representative.
How It Works: Apply for membership and begin the vetting process. Once approved, unlike most swapping services, just pick your desired destination and accommodations and book your travel. It doesn’t have to be a direct swap of date and location so long as your home is made available in the pool for at least one week of the year for other members to book.
The Perks: Second homeowners can keep cash in their investments, vacation where they would like, and not feel guilty about going somewhere besides their own vacation home.
What their customers say: “It’s been the perfect solution. I get to keep my property and travel the globe and stay in incredible high-end houses for not even a fraction of what they would cost to rent.”
The Risk: Of course, with any home swap, you are opening your home to strangers which may make you feel vulnerable and apprehensive. Most sites do vet their members and their members’ homes extensively. And typically, the community consists of like-minded people who are in the same position. They treat their swapped home as if it was their own because they hope you will do the same.
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