Have you ever wondered what it is like to stay in a luxury condo overlooking the ocean, or a penthouse apartment in the heart of a city? All around the world travellers are turning to a new way to stay in luxury accommodation – the holiday home swap. And Love Home Swap is one of the most popular of these new kids on the travel block. But how does home swapping work, and can it work for you?
Holiday home or second home swaps are becoming increasingly popular, especially with independent travellers keen on ‘living like a local’, enjoying authentic experiences and exploring a destination from a local resident’s perspective.
With a house swap, you lend your own home to another family while you live in theirs. Not only can this result in a more immersive holiday experience, but it can also be a great way of travelling in luxury for less.
Love Home Swap is a leading home exchange platform that allows its members to make savings of up to 90 per cent on their holiday accommodation costs.
It has an extensive portfolio of homes around the world, with member properties in destinations including Provence in France, California and New York in the US, Tuscany in Italy, Bali in Indonesia, and many more. The platform attracts a variety of travellers, including families, couples and retirees, with the aim of bringing together holidaymakers across the world to share their local knowledge and travel with all the comforts of home.
The Love Home Swap experience
One of Love Home Swap’s members, Jennifer Bocchi from Reno, Nevada, explained what it’s like to be a home swapper, sharing some of the impressive holidays she and her family have enjoyed using their membership.
“We love to travel with our two children, so when we heard about swapping homes with others as an affordable and comfortable way to travel, we put our holiday home at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, into the Love Home Swap exchange pool, becoming members about three years ago.”
Users of the holiday swap platform can search for homes based on location, size, amenities, or those that are family friendly or great for groups. You can also filter your results by searching for options such as ‘by the sea’ or ‘mountain view’.
Love Home Swap operates a classic swap option, allowing you to visit the home of the people you’ve swapped with at the same time or at a later date. There is also a points system whereby you can swap your home for points which can be used wherever and whenever it suits you. The points give you the flexibility to be able to take your holiday at a different time of year than the week your own property is being used by another member.
Jennifer explained: “We do both the 1-4-1 home exchange, as well as using Love Home Swap points. Our membership comes with so much flexibility. We did a swap with a couple who stayed at ours for five nights, while we split our stay into two weekend getaways.
“Having taken 13 holiday home swaps in three years, we love the lifestyle. First, it’s the quality. Every one of our swap experiences has been amazing. The locations have been fabulous and most of the properties far nicer than our own, and certainly way better than a hotel room. We visited Disney, staying in a hotel, and my four- and five-year-olds were not impressed. ‘What is this? Only one room?’ they asked.
“Our own property at Lake Tahoe, which we use to swap, sleeps 13 people and has a pool, hot tub and a gym, so it’s great for families. Plus it is a townhouse, and yet only seconds from the beach, which makes it a very attractive vacation stay. And we get to stay in some pretty amazing places in return. One swap property was a beautiful house in Chicago. The owners had children the same age as ours and the home had a playroom and all the space you could want; we even swapped cars and child seats with them for our stay.
“Our Saint Lucia swap was simply fabulous. We stayed in a clifftop villa for 10 days with three other couples. Saint Lucia was beautiful, a piece of paradise here on earth, while the swap was out of this world – it came with a concierge and a crewed boat we could use. And that is what is so cool about Love Home Swap membership – you get to enjoy so many different kinds of holiday with it.
“We have turned our holiday home into all our vacations. We’ve had family breaks, romantic getaways and holidays for the girls – I took my Mum and three sisters to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and it was such a special time together in an incredible place. One of my sisters has always wanted to visit New Zealand and so we are doing a swap in January with a home there, but we have gifted our end of the swap to my sister and her husband so they’ll be off on the holiday of their dreams.”
Safety is foremost for any traveller, and Jennifer added: “We have always felt very safe, finding the other swappers to be really good people, loving this lifestyle and happy to share their experiences with you. Up to now, we’ve never stayed in a home with the hosts or hosted ourselves, but you can, and you get points for the guest stay period. A few of those we have swapped homes with have become our friends, so we are creating a community for those who love to travel. Love Home Swap has been a hugely positive experience for us all.”
How to do a holiday home swap like a pro
Prep your property
You’ll want to put your best foot forward when holiday house swapping and, first, this means prepping your property to make sure it’s attractive to other swappers so photograph your house well.
Consider your requirements
If you’re travelling with small children it will be important that the house is child-friendly with unfussy furnishings and a garden. If you enjoy food and want to spend time sampling local produce or to eat out to try the local fare, it makes sense to find a property with a good kitchen that’s close to restaurants or grocery stores. You can even use a pet filter if you wish to take your dog on holiday with you.
Do your research
Take time to research potential exchange partners. House swap companies don’t visit properties, so it’s important to study photos carefully, look at the feedback and communicate fully with the owner well in advance. When setting up your swap with another home swapper, why not Skype them to chat and see more of their home?
Arrange your home
Create a lockable ‘personal closet’ of things you don’t want to be accessed by your house guests, or to be on display when you are hosting. Set up a neighbour or cleaner as a local contact for your guests. Usually, each owner continues to pay their own utility bills, except for phone calls. You may want to swap cars as well as houses, in which case you should inform your car insurer. Some owners may even leave their pets behind to be looked after if you agree to it.
As the arrangement with your holiday home swapper is non-commercial, your household insurance shouldn’t be affected, but you should double-check that your policy will remain in place while you’re away, especially if you plan to be away for some weeks.
Make sure your holiday insurance includes cancellation cover in case an unforeseen issue arises with your house swap just before you’re due to depart.
Love Home Swap membership starts from £144 a year with unlimited home swaps during that time.
Want to try home swapping yourself free? Take out a two week free trial; or you can get in touch with a member of the Love Home Swap team to find out more.
For more inspirational travel and holiday stories and guides, visit the RCI Blog.
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