November 15th, 2012
Have you wanted to travel for a few weeks but were concerned about the cost of the hotels? If you could stay in another home, you’d save on your budget by cooking a majority of your meals. One way is to look into a short term rental. Another is to find the type of hotel that caters to longer term residents. But to really save money, you could try a home exchange. That means that someone will be staying in your home while you’re staying in someone else’s. You may also be able to do your own laundry, have internet connectivity, and free car parking.
There are a number of websites set up to enable people to list their homes as well as list where you want to go. Some are free to list and have a minimum fee after you’ve had a successful exchange. Others are by subscription.
And Home Exchange University has a list of Resources that are well maintained.
Here’s our suggestions:
Your homeowners insurance may cover the visitors as guests, but you should still call to make certain. If you’re a renter, you need to talk to your landlord first to make sure they are ok with someone else staying in their property.
That’s a personal choice. You may want to make your car available. If you do, work with your insurance company if you need an additional rider.
If you feel comfortable with the idea, have a good heart to heart about who will be allowed to drive your car, and verify that they have a valid driver’s license for the US. Agree who will pay the insurance deductible in case of an accident, and set some restrictions. For example, if you live in Carmel, and they are thinking of driving down to Disneyland for the day (don’t laugh. it’s happened.), or spend the morning in Yosemite before having dinner in San Francisco (again, it happened), let them know that you would prefer the car to remain within a certain distance.
Also consider making available boats, RVs, motorcycles, and ATVs. If you’re in snow country, you may also want to make snowmobiles and sporting equipment available.
So, to have a successful home exchange, you need to be flexible, and ask yourself if you’re going to be ok with someone staying in your home while you’re staying in someone else’s. If you’re not sure, try a short home swap such as a long weekend.
Talk with other people who have participated in home exchanges. Some people love going on lots of vacations and provide guest books that get full of fun comments.
Always be polite and respond to everyone who contacts you. You never know when it might be the perfect exchange and you don’t want to burn bridges.
Respect your obligation and don’t cancel out if you get cold feet or if you get what appears to be a better offer.
The bottom line is if you want to go for a long weekend or a month, you could save money and have a more relaxing experience if you exchange your home. Would you ever try this? Or if you have, how did ti work out?