We joined Homeexchange.com 5 years ago. Becoming a member of this community has changed the way we experience the world. As the slogan goes "live like a local". When you're staying in a neighbourhood and shopping at the local stores, and get to meet the neighbours it's a completely different perspective than staying in hotels or on a resort. Every member of the Home Exchange community has been so friendly, caring and open. We've had several members of the community offer their home to us even if they weren't able to use our house- this is called a "hospitality exchange". We leave the window open to the idea that if one day down the road they would like to visit, they are more than welcome. We have also opened our house to other members and not stayed at their place. It's just an overwhelming hospitable community to belong to.
Some people have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea of home exchanging. Some of the comments we get when we tell people we swap houses with families around the world are:
- You let a stranger sleep in your bed?!
- YES! But the sheets and mattress cover are cleaned! I have a separate set of pillows I put on the beds, and voila! If you're grossed out by that, then you must not ever stay in a hotel!
- How do you know you can trust them?
- It's called faith in humanity. We find a match from the "members only" community and each time we arrange a swap we tend to communicate A LOT. typically by email, and video chat, sometime on the phone. You get a good sense of the family and they're putting trust into you coming to their home as well.
- What if they break something?
- So what? It's stuff. If there's anything that I really might be worried about getting broken, I either put it away or ask for it not to be used, right now that's a precious wine decanter I brought back all the way from Moser Glass in Prague. And even so, if that was broken, yes I might be upset but it's not the end of the world. We value the experiences we get from home exchanging rather than the possessions we have.
- Do they leave your house clean?
- Of course! We've always cleaned and left the house exactly how we found it, and it's always been the same when we get home to our house!
- You let them drive your car!?
- Why not? I will drive their car too! It saves on having to rent a car, and yes, our insurance covers it! It's just like lending a vehicle to a friend.
- Do you pay the other family anything?
- No, the only payment ever made is a small annual membership fee payed to Homeexchange.com, we don't pay anything to stay or use the family car when home exchanging!
Some of the places we've home exchanged:
Barbados: Simultaneous Swap
|Home we stayed in, Barbados|
|My sister and nephew stayed with us for part of our time in Barbados|
Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada: Simultaneous Swap
|View from the balcony from the home we stayed in, BC|
|My parents were able to join us for part of the time on this exchange, BC|
Gaspe, Quebec, Canada: Hospitality Stay
|The home we stayed in, Gaspe, Quebec|
|Part of the trip Ryan was able to join us on! Gaspe, QC|
Martinique: Hospitality Stay
|Relaxing outside of our home in Martinique|
|Our kids playing with the kids from our host family, Martinique|
Dublin, Ireland: Simultaneous Swap
|Home we stayed in, Dublin, Ireland|