Free Lodging When You Travel? Yep, It’s Possible.

free travel lodgingWith the price of hotels eating up a larger piece of overall travel expenses, finding good accommodations at reasonable prices has become an important factor when planning any vacation. It is no longer unusual to have accommodation expenses amount to more than half of the total cost of a vacation. Not having to pay for a beautiful place to stay during your next vacation in not only a great deal, it’s also easily accomplished. It’s possible to stay in southern France, downtown New York or any other place in the world you’d like to visit without paying a single cent for the accommodations. All you need to do is look into one of the many vacation home exchange programs.

The basic rational behind these programs is that your house or apartment is an asset which people on vacation in your city would like to use. Instead of leaving this asset empty and unused while you are traveling, you lend it to someone else who happens to live in an area of the world you want to visit. A vacation home exchange allows you to trade your house with someone else so neither party will have any accommodation expenses while on vacation.

Home exchanges are not geared for the weekend traveler. People interested in these exchanges usually plan a minimum stay of two weeks, although shorter exchanges are possible. Not only does a home give an excellent base to take short day trips or longer weekend excursions, but it also gives you the advantage of instantly making you a part of the community in the city or country you’re visiting. This enables you to enjoy your vacation from a unique perspective unavailable to the average tourist.

The greatest worry most people have is whether or not their home is going to be in good hands. Although there are no guarantees, the odds are good that your house will be taken well care of. The families that exchange houses are usually well traveled and will have the exact same anxieties about their own house. House exchange agencies report that even minor complaints are rare, with lack of housekeeping topping the list. Frequent correspondences by mail or phone should build a trust which will ease the anxiety. It also never hurts to plan a meeting with your trading partner at one of your homes to begin the exchange.

Attempting to arrange a home exchange by yourself is possible, but troublesome. It usually entails taking out an advertisement in a local newspaper or magazine in the place where you want to travel. A much easier way is to go through one of the many home exchange companies which have thousands of listings all over the world. You list your house in their directory and receive a directory with periodic updates for a fixed price. It is also possible to receive the directories without listing your house for a small fee.

The home exchange company doesn’t actually arrange the home exchange. These services give you like minded contacts who may be willing to exchange accommodations with you. It is up to you to contact and make the arrangements with the individuals listed in the guides. The home exchange companies will provide useful information to help make the home exchange easy and thorough, as well as advice on how to avoid the most common problems.

Planning as far ahead as possible is essential and being flexible will greatly increase your chances of finding a good exchange. Participants are largely concentrated in north America and western Europe, with participants in other parts of the world much more scarce. No matter where you live, keep your expectations realistic. A person with a large house in a prime tourist city will have many more opportunities than a person with a small house in the countryside. The more attractive your home to other exchangers, the more opportunities you’ll have.

To increase your chances of finding an exchange partner, contact all the listed houses which you are interested in instead of each individually one at a time. The more letters you write, the better your chances are of finding an exchange partner. Also take the time to consider exactly what your house has to offer and what you expect in an exchange house. The more in tune you are with your expectations, the more likely you are to find the right partner for a house exchange.

With the continual rise in hotel prices, house exchanges are becoming extremely popular. It makes perfect sense. Not only do your receive quality accommodations exactly where you want them, you significantly cut your overall vacation expenses allowing for more time to get to know the city or country you decide to visit.

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2 Responses to Free Lodging When You Travel? Yep, It’s Possible.

  1. ben says:

    Has anyone tried this? Does it work?

  2. Melisa says:

    Another alternative is The Couchsurfing Project (check out their website, or the post I recently wrote on my blog). It’s a bit more geared toward the weekend traveler, but it’s a great way to meet locals, immerse yourself in the culture, and save some money.

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