indulging · travel

Home Swapping 3 Different Methods

Today’s guest post is by Shelley Miller, Home Exchange Expert.  Shelley has done many home exchanges and she and I both agree that home swapping makes travel affordable for families.  Shelley has lots of great tips about travel so please check out her site.

Your next vacation could be a home exchange and these 3 practical alternatives make it possible.  Did you realize that there are three ways to save money when you home exchange?  My family has experienced each of them and they all have benefits. Read on to find out which one works best for you.

1.  Simultaneous Home Exchange:  This form of exchange is when you swap houses with your exchange partner on identical travel dates. The home exchange is “simultaneous” and straightforward. Sometimes you meet your visitors, sometimes you don’t. It’s up to you. One time we did an exchange with a Seattle family; they flew south down the coast to San Diego and we flew north. We literally passed in the air!


Simultaneous home exchange in Windsor, England – This was the humble abode of my family’s very first home exchange. The mansion was built in 1485!

Bottom line: Choose this one if you like privacy, want your own space, can figure out a new state or country on your own and enjoy being independent.

2.  Non-Simultaneous Home Exchange:  Not all home exchangers swap their homes at the same time. In home exchange lingo, it’s referred to as a “non-simultaneous” exchange. As the term implies, you live in each others’ homes on different dates.

For example, a few years ago my family wanted to do a home exchange over the Christmas season with an American expat family living in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong family had already scheduled a holiday in Thailand, so their house was empty and available during the last two weeks of December.

I e-mailed the homeowner about the idea of a non-simultaneous exchange. She told me they wanted to visit to San Diego the following summer. So that’s what we did. My family visited their 3-story home overlooking the South China Sea in December 2006; their family visited our home overlooking the San Diego Bay in July 2007. Everybody got what they wanted!

Non-simultaneous home swap

View of the South China Sea – Our Non-Simultaneous home swap in Hong Kong included a car swap, a Mercedes. A 3-story home AND a Mercedes. Sometimes life is really, really good.

Bottom line: This option works well if you’re eager to book an exchange in a particular city. It can be a scheduling challenge to move out of your home six months or a year later when payback time arrives, but perhaps it’s no big deal if you’re planning another trip anyway. If you want to vacation in a city with uber expensive hotel rooms, for example expect to pay about $335 per night in Paris, a non-simultaneous exchange would definitely be worth it.

3.  Hospitality Home Exchange:  This is when you stay in a member’s home while they are living there too. Sometime later, you return the favor and host them in your home.

I’ll admit, when I first heard about a “hospitality” exchange, it seemed a bit strange. But after trying it a couple times, I found there are clear advantages. Your home swap partners can show you around their community and answer questions. You really feel like a local!

When we did a hospitality exchange in Germany, our hostess Monika baked us a delicious apricot cake; she delivered it to the 2-bedroom apartment they provided to us on the second floor of their home. Monika’s husband, Gerhard, was always helpful with mapping out our day trips.

Home swapping hospitality exchange

Prosciutto & Melon Salad Appetizer – Monkia, our hospitality exchange partner in Germany, prepared a fabulous welcome meal for us.

Bottom line: Hospitality exchange is a good choice if you like getting to know your exchange partners and meeting their friends too. Before finalizing the exchange, be sure you understand the layout of the home so that you and your travel partners are comfortable with the living arrangement. Good communication leads to realistic expectations. This option is particularly beneficial if you’re traveling solo.

So there you have it, three home exchange choices: simultaneous, non-simultaneous and hospitality. All are good options.

Which home swapping method do you want to try first?

Shelly Miller, home exchange expert


Shelley Miller, a home exchange expert, writes articles and leads workshops that show travelers how to experience the world authentically and affordably with home swap vacations. She and her family have completed 13 home exchanges in 12 years. Visit Shelley at:, Twitter :@HomeExchangeKey and Facebook: Facebook HomeExchangeExpert

Shelley took all of the beautiful photographs in this post.

Thanks, for sharing these tips, Shelley!!

Go Gingham related links:

Ready your home for an exchange – it’s easy!
Why I love home exchanges is here
Our first home exchange
Travel packing tips are here complete with a check-off chart
With a home exchange, you can eat at home – vacation meal planning
Travel tips to the Northwest – my local favorite spots!

2 thoughts on “Home Swapping 3 Different Methods

  1. I have always wanted to do this, but haven’t known how.

    Thanks for the step by step and so glad you’re having a wonderful trip.

    Hope to see you again soon!


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