“There’s no place like home” – Dorothy said it best, while she was lost on the Yellow Brick Road in Oz. But if you watched the movie close enough, you probably notice that she managed to have some fun while she was finding her way back home, too. She met friends (if they only had a brain), danced a little, sang a lot, and uncovered a world of color. Of course, eventually she clicked her ruby red slippers back together and was able to get back to good ole’ Kansas, but the point is: time away from home can be vital to remember why home is so homey in the first place. Opportunities to do that, however, can seem few and far between, when a vacation can mean lots of money spent on travel to your destination, a place to stay, eating out…the list of expenses can seem expansive. But if you’re up for sharing, there’s another way…
House swaps. Home exchanges. Switcheroos. Whatever you want to call them, they’ve caught the attention of those overcome with wanderlust in years past, and they’re actually a great way to leverage your home for more vacation time. When you participate in a house exchange, you allow others to stay in your home AirBNB style, but instead of being monetarily compensated, you are paid with the ability to stay in their home simultaneously. So, want to go to the French Riviera, but don’t want to pay for a hotel on the water? Trade places with a French family and experience the location and the lifestyle.
If you’re interested in sharing a bit of your D.C. life in exchange for another home where you can (temporarily) scratch your itch for new horizons, here are your best bets:
One of the original home swap networks, Love Home Swap has been connecting people to their home-away-from-home since 2011, proudly advertising themselves the “world’s simplest holiday idea.” At Love Home Swap, new members can enjoy browsing options during their two-week free trial period. After that, a standard membership will cost $23/ per month billed annually. Once you list your home and fill our your preferences for where you want to go, you will eventually be “matched.” If you don’t match, no worries, you can also offer your home up when you’re away and then use the points for a future non-swap stay later on.
Home Exchange has been around so long that it originally existed offline –– in 1992, it was a mailed book printed and shipped to interested parties. Now, it’s a sprawling social network that helps people live like locals all around the globe. Similar to Love Home Swap, on Home Exchange you add your listing, going to whatever lengths possible to showcase why it’s one-of-a-kind. Form there, you browse destinations and homes and find a match that’s interested in swapping with you. Send a message and let the planning begin!
With a bold claim that they’re “ the words leading home exchange website,” Guest to Guest does have a point. This site has over 300,000 registered homes to choose from in 187 countries around the world. The site works similar to other rental sites, but does operate on a system that is 100% free for those wishing to experience a home swap. Pay extra for amenities that offer peace-of-mind such as insurance, security deposit, and verification.
HomeLink has a smaller selection of homes available, but still offers an impressive array of countries and opportunities for a unique style of vacation. HomeLink also goes above and beyond to offer representatives that make it easier to coordinate an exchange somewhere where the host you need to correspond with speaks a different language. This site allows new users a 30-day free trial, and from there offers year-long membership rates based on if you want to do international exchanges ($95/year) or USA-only exchanges ($50/year).
Truth be told, the world is at your fingertips! (And your little dog, too!)