I checked some major world currencies against the dollar this morning. One US dollar buys the following: £0.498828 (British pound), CN$1.1227 (Canadian dollar), €0.73524 (Euro), AUS$1.19574 (Australian dollar).
These figures are effectively putting a stranglehold on Americans vacationing abroad. They add up the airfare, hotel or vacation rental charges, cost of a rental car and eating out in restaurants, and decide that the budget simply cannot be stretched that far.
But this is where home exchange comes into its own. Plan a home swapping vacation and the only major cost is for the airfare to reach your destination. No hotel, no rental home, probably no rental car, and eating out can be reduced drastically. In short, the very home you live in can be your passport to an exciting and affordable vacation.
No money ever changes hands between home exchange partners. You are in their home while they are in yours. You pay all your home expenses such as mortgage, utilities, etc. as you normally would. It’s sometimes agreed that people pay for their own phone calls, if they are likely to be excessive once the exchange is completed and the phone bills arrive.
Many home swapping arrangements also include a car, which of course represents more significant savings. Expensive restaurant meals can also be eliminated, or at least substantially reduced. Exchange partners often leave information on good, non-touristy restaurants that they recommend, while some will go the extra mile and obtain some great coupons and certificates for their exchange partners.
People who are new to the idea of home exchanging are very often very apprehensive at the prospect of inviting “strangers” to live in their home completely unsupervised. To reassure them, I like to compare home swapping to Internet dating. Before couples ever get around to meeting they exchange emails, photographs and phone calls. If they sense incompatibility they drop that particular pairing and move on.
Setting up a home exchange follows those same principles. By the time the exchange actually takes place, the two parties involved are never strangers. In the initial selection process they would have swapped emails, then as the arrangements progressed, phone calls, photographs, possibly videos and certainly many more emails would have been exchanged. Everyone involved feels very compatible and comfortable with each other
Good initial communications are what makes home exchange work. In the 20+ years I’ve been promoting the home exchange concept with probably tens of thousands of exchanges arranged, Ive never received a report of a theft, malicious damage, vandalism, or a case of someone arriving at their exchange destination and finding a vacant lot. It just doesn’t happen!
Many members join initially to save money while they travel. That wish can be accomplished, with savings of thousands of dollars on hotels, rentals, cars and restaurants. But much more than that, many will often confess that the greater advantages they unexpectedly discovered are the experiences of living an area like a local, not a tourist and enjoying the comforts of staying in a home rather than a cramped hotel room with all the associated restrictions.