Budget Travel

April 21, 2009

House Swap: Not an ABC Special

Filed under: Budget Travel — twdhf @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

By: Meg Hoppe

A few years ago I watched the movie, The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. In the movie, Diaz and Winslet “swap” houses for a holiday. I watched this phenomenon with a strange allure. Did people really do that? After watching the movie, loving it, and returning it to Blockbuster, house swapping fell off of my radar. Now, with the recession and my desire to travel once again, I’ve re-kindled my fascination of this budget travel tactic that so many people overlook.Colorful House Swap

House swapping, or home exchanges as people call it, is precisely what you think it might be. You place an ad telling people where you are and where you would like to go. In most instances that I’ve noted, residents will place photos of their homes or apartments up with their ad and the time in which they would like to travel. Once someone responds to your ad, you build up a rapport with that person and inevitably decide whether or not to ship your keys out for a little R&R.

While perusing the Internet for house swapping ads, I was drawn in by the photographs of foreign apartments. I can easily be taken in by a great photo of a magnificently decorated apartment. However, I also started to imagine my apartment with someone else in it. I pictured someone sleeping in my bed, re-programming my TV, and drying off with my towels after a shower in my bathroom. How could I entrust my personal space to someone I had never met?

Upon looking into reviews for this new technique I stumbled upon this question and so many others that I had. Security of my items, how could I be assured that things wouldn’t be missing or broken upon my return? Will my decorating tendencies and yellow Ikea chairs with my dark wood dining table become an international butt of ridicule? It’s hard to say really.

The best advice that I have to counter house swapping fears is this; really look into who you are swapping homes with. Most people realize that you are in their home as well and have these same questions and fears. Create an open dialogue and get to know your homeowner well enough to feel comfortable picturing them as a friend who is staying in your apartment while you’re away.
In the end, house swapping is a great way to see the world on a budget. Not only are you able to travel, but you’re able to fully immerse yourself in a culture and way of life. Keep your eyes open and look at Craigslist for house swaps in your area and report back with your stories and photos!

*Meg Hoppe is a freelance writer and marketing professional from Chicago. Visit her other blog here.

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