7 Things You Should (but Don’t) Know About Vacation Home Exchange

Would you like to spend your vacation in a million-dollar home, almost for free?

Like most non-traditional vacation types, luxury vacation home exchange providers have seen an uptick in occupancy during the pandemic, especially when it comes to high-end properties. Now, you can book your space in a property with staff and all manner of high-end extras, if you’ve got something to trade for it.

You could also opt for something a little lower key. This flexible type of vacation’s the ideal solution for a staycation that isn’t in your own home.

Are you considering a vacation home exchange for your next getaway? Find out what’s really involved here.

Fees Vary Wildly

Although you can arrange a home swap any way you like, it’s best to work through a reputable agency like HomeSwap, THIRDHOME, or IVHE.

One of the cheapest memberships starts at $39, but you can expect to pay more for luxury home swaps, or those in foreign locations.

By charging a set fee, and thoroughly vetting their members, these organizations prevent security issues and ensure you get good quality accommodation for your vacation.

Although your actual exchange is free, you can expect to pay extra for things like travel insurance, safety deposits, and additional security vetting.

Points Exchanges

Some of these groups work like timeshare points clubs where you trade your home in and receive a certain allocation of points that you can use against future accommodation. When you use your points at a lower-rated home, you get to keep the rest for future exchanges.

These systems only apply to homeowners who have a second home they’re offering up for an exchange. Otherwise, you could end up homeless if someone wants to vacation in your home while you’re in residence.

There are two other ways to arrange these exchanges. You can stay in someone else’s home while they inhabit yours, or you could stay in someone’s home while they’re there.

Some exchange clubs focus on only one type of exchange, so make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you pay over your hard-earned cash.

It’s a Safe Vacation Option 

There’s rarely any incident of vandalism or theft during home swaps. Some organizations report that they haven’t experienced a single incident in over 60 years of operation.

When you swap homes with someone, it’s an arrangement based on mutual trust.

If you’re going to make your home available for home exchanges, it’s best to store irreplaceable valuables in a safe or keep them offsite. Accidents happen.

A Vacation Home Exchange Isn’t for Everyone

If you feel uncomfortable about allowing strangers access to your home, this vacation option isn’t for you.

Most people agree that arranging an exchange via a reputable organization is a safe way to transact, only you can decide if you’re comfortable with the concept.

You will get to interact with your house guest quite a bit before the exchange, and that might help put your mind at ease.

These discussions can help alleviate most of the concerns regarding a home-based vacation exchange. Be sure to iron out the following issues at this time:

  • Will you leave food for your guests?
  • Who will take responsibility for cleaning?
  • How will you swap keys?
  • Is a vehicle provided?

It’s important to discuss any gray areas upfront and honestly with your guest/host. You can also research vacation home exchange reviews for that particular property on websites that specialize in these vacations.

Can You Swap Cars Too?

When you’re swapping homes, you’ll need transportation for things like shopping and sightseeing. Swapping vehicles is a cheap way to enjoy this convenience.

You can leave your own car at the airport for your guest to pick up, and vice versa.

Car insurance providers usually cover this arrangement, so it’s worth offering this feature if you’re part of a home exchange club.

Be Flexible

If you’re doing a direct home swap, you’ll need to keep an open mind. Stay open to all offers and see if you can work your vacations around them.

After all, these exchanges are like a free vacation to a surprise destination. When you keep an open mind, you could discover a new favorite destination. Some people have traveled as far afield as Hawaii, Australia, and Ireland.

Those who have a second home get the ultimate convenience when arranging these types of vacations, as they needn’t reschedule – unless they’re offered an exchange to a highly desirable destination.

You could also offer your home up for exchange if you’re going to stay with friends for a week, or intend to occupy your second home during your vacation. If you’re signed up with one of the points clubs, this means you’ll get an extra vacation in hand – it’s a win-win situation.

Is a Home Exchange Worth it?

If you’re looking for a safe, affordable, and novel way to vacation, a home exchange is well worth it. You could get to see another part of the country and enjoy all the comforts of home in the process.

These homes offer more personal touches and everyday comforts that simply don’t exist in hotels and self-catering outlets. It also provides interesting insights into other people’s lives.

If you’re squeamish about staying in someone else’s home or worried that your small children might wreck their stuff, a home exchange vacation isn’t the right option for you.

Get Away From It All

Does a vacation home exchange seem way out of your comfort levels? There are plenty of other options.

As travel slowly starts to open up, now’s the ideal time to explore your own country, or venture to foreign destinations you haven’t tried before.

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