I’ve always loved travelling with my husband. We go on at least one long trip every year. For many years we booked our trips with a local travel agent, but one day, waiting for an appointment with my dentist, I was sitting next to a couple discussing home exchanging. Overall, they came to the conclusion it was something they would never do. I must admit I felt the same way, but I got curious and decided to learn more about it, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to try.

While there are several informative home exchange websites, I tend to use a few which seem to have the easiest interfaces and appealing offers. Most of my exchanges have come through To sign up, you have to pay about $120 annually and create a profile of your family, home, and neighbourhood. To make your listing more tempting, you can add pictures and links as well as a list of places you’d like to visit. Your approximate travel dates might also be helpful for someone considering swapping houses with you. Initially, I wrongly assumed that home exchange destinations were mainly limited to North America and Europe, but as I explored the website, I was astonished to discover that there were so many opportunities of accommodation advertised in more exotic locations.

One of the earliest exchanges which my husband and I tried was in San Diego. The homeowner was a great guy. He made us feel really at home and gave us many valuable tips when we arrived. For example, he told us that one of his favourite breakfast places would be celebrating its birthday while we were there and encouraged us to pop in. We didn’t give it a try but it was nice of him to suggest it. He also recommended a professional city guide but we didn’t contact him as we prefer visiting places on our own.

Of course, not everything about a home exchange works out perfectly but the rewards definitely extend far beyond the money saved. On an exchange in Hawaii, we lived in a remote house on the Big Island near its fabulous black volcanic sand beaches. The house looked out over the ocean and a field of volcanic rock. The views were stunning especially when we had dinner on the terrace with the sun setting in the distance! I wondered why the homeowner told us to clean up immediately after meals. We very quickly found out. One day we left some chicken on the kitchen counter, and after a whole day out, we returned to battle ants for the next couple of hours.

All in all, after my initial concern about home exchange and some doubts I had about living in someone else’s house, I must say my attitude has gradually changed. Home exchanging provides an extra dimension that allows people to experience diverse aspects of daily life in another country. Thanks to the home exchanges I’ve made, I now have design ideas for my home, have mastered the art of metric cooking and have learned to operate several styles of door locks and different household appliances. So it has turned out to be very educational.
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