Milan from Travel By Home Exchange and her family of six have saved over $14,000 vacationing by home exchange over the last 5 years. I found this really interesting and asked her to guest post on what a home exchange was and how it works. You can follow Milan on twitter at @HomeExchangeMom for tips on how to find house swaps.

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The Home Exchange Family

Traveling by Home Exchange

There are many ways to travel, hotel, cruise, safari, RV, and hostels to name a few. One method of travel you may not have heard of is house swapping.  A house swap is where you and your family stay at someone else’s home, while that family stays at your home. Exchanging homes is a great way to save money while traveling, or extend your travel experiences by using your travel budget on other things like airfare or activities.

Benefits of Traveling By Home Exchange

No Accommodation Expenses – Obviously this is the largest benefit. Trading homes means you have no hotel or hostel expenses, which can save you thousands a week.

Larger Accommodations – If you are used to staying in hotels or hostels, having an entire house or apartment can seem almost decadent. I can tell you from our experiences we almost hate to travel any other way now. Traveling with a family and having your own bedrooms for adults and children can really impact your vacation, in a good way.

Cooking Your Own Meals – When you are staying in someone’s home you have access to a full kitchen so you can shop for your own groceries and avoid eating out. While it’s nice to sample the local cuisine, it can get expensive so having the ability to buy local produce and prepare your own meals can extend your travel budget, and even help your digestion.

Disadvantages to House Swaps

Privacy – Always one of the biggest fears of exchanging homes, you do have to come to grips with the fact that virtual strangers are staying in your home and have access to your private areas. You can take measures to store your valuables, but they will be using your daily items like sleeping in your bed and using your shower. Frankly I don’t think this is any worse than staying in a hotel where thousands of strangers have slept in the bed. It’s just a mental block you need to get over in order to enjoy your vacation.

Taking Care of The Home You are Visiting – Almost as nerve wracking, is making sure you don’t harm the home you are staying in, especially if you have children. When you stay in a hotel you can disassociate the experience because the room doesn’t belong to a ‘real person,’ but when you are staying at someone’s home you are always on guard to make sure you are careful. While most of us are careful no matter where we are, spilling a drink on a hotel room rug is a different experience from spilling it on a family heirloom rug that means something to someone.

If you are open to the experience, weighing the pros and cons of exchanging homes can open up a whole new world of travel. One of the best parts of house swaps is being able to really live like locals by having a connection to the community through your exchange partners. You’ll be living right in the community with access and information about restaurants and activities that residents love.

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