indulging · travel

Home Exchange Love

Home Exchange Love

I love to travel and see the world but travel can be an expensive indulgence.  Eating out, hotels, and rental cars can all really add up.  Now, the first thing we do when the travel bug hits is start searching our favorite home exchange service website.  It wasn’t always like this.  Years ago, I worked really hard to convince my husband to try a home exchange as a frugal way to travel and see the world without spending a fortune.  He was less than enthusiastic and barely lukewarm to the idea.  Home swap our house?  Filled with all of our treasures?  Let strangers sleep in our beds?  My response was:

“The most precious items we keep in our home are the people who live here.”

Having strangers stay in your home can be a little unsettling.  What I’ve come to realize is that once people stay in your home, they’re no longer strangers they’re more like friends.  You get to read about the home exchange people on the InterVac website, see pictures of their home, their family members, and whether they have pets or if they smoke.  There’s e-mailing back and forth or phone calls to discuss details and key placement.  It also helps to keep in mind that you’re going to be in their home, filled with their treasures, and sleeping in their beds.

Home Exchange Love
The Von Tetreaults in Salzburg, Austria

Travelling is a wonderful gift to give yourself and your children.  Home swapping is a way to see the world and experience life and how other people live.  You’re not staying in a tourist area where everyone speaks your language.  It can be challenging and if you’re driving, there’s the added joy of being lost in a foreign country while trying to read maps with your spouse driving a car owned by somebody else.  We won’t talk about that right now!

Where have we gone?  Paris (France), Vienna (Austria), Gouda (The Netherlands), the Oregon coast (three times), this spring we’re headed to San Francisco, CA and in the summer we’re doing an exchange in Alicante (Spain).

Home Exchange Love
Pretending to be statues in Paris, France

If you’d like to register for a home exchange, the site we use is InterVac, which stands for International Vacation.  You’ll receive a $5.00 discount on your membership by entering this code – copy and paste:
in at check out when asked for the promo code.

There’s a dance with home exchanges that involves dates, locations, pets, etc.  If you’re willing to be flexible on destination or timing, it will be a wonderful experience.
Intervac Home Exchange

I’d be happy to speak to your group or organization about frugal travel, home swapping, and travelling with children.  Please contact me here to get on my schedule.

Go Gingham Affiliate link




Related posts
Home Exchange
My interview with The New York Times about home exchanges

9 thoughts on “Home Exchange Love

  1. Great article. I’ve always wanted to try a house swap but didn’t have the courage. As I’ve used to barter all kinds of stuff I think I’m going to use the same page for a potential house swap as you can reciprocate with either goods, services or real estate as well.


  2. oh Sara – I have wanted to do this and my kids are really freaked out by it – I am trying to figure out a way to get them comfortable because it makes tons of sense. Knowing you have done it makes me feel even more brave! Just have to get those pesky kids on board!


    1. Annie, our kids were pretty worried their first time about their special toys, etc. I just tucked them away and everyone felt better. We stayed at a house with a Wii on one of our exchanges (we don’t have games like that at home) and that was a hit! That’s also where the backyard chicken idea was hatched. Just go. They’ll love it!


  3. Hello Sara, what do you do if you have a destination in mind, but no one from there seems to be interested in visiting your hometown? Can you search by people who want to visit you locale, and then go from there? Trying to set up a trip to Ireland this summer with family, and it would be nice if we had a free place to stay.


    1. Hi Eileen! It’s hard to predict if someone wants to come to your hometown but we’ve haven’t had any trouble so far. There’s a better chance of an exchange working out if you’re not super set on dates, times, places, etc. but flexible. It’s worth a try!! Good luck!!


  4. I’ve been wanting to try this, too! My husband is not as keen on the idea…we don’t have kids but do own pets. I did get him to try an alternative to hotels (air b-n-b) and we’ve been using that site to find lodging away from home for a about two years. Having an entire house to ourselves for less than what we’d spend on one small hotel room is always nice. I will check out the exchange site you use and hopefully we may give it a try!


    1. Tina, it’s worked out well for us and I high recommend it! You’d be amazed what people are willing to swap and not having kids will probably be better – many folks say “no small children” in their profile. You can ask for pet care. We’ve card for an outdoor cat and for 7 chickens. That’s how we ended up getting chickens after we enjoyed them so much during a home exchange.


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